A sunny spot with fertile soil
Broccoli and calabrese plants all need a sunny site with deep, firm, moisture retentive soil.
Raised beds & traditional veg plots are best
Broccoli and calabrese will prefer to be grown in raised beds or a well dug veg patch.
How far apart
30-40cm is about right
Protect with a brassica collar
You can make these easily out of cardboard. Cut a 10cm diameter disc, cut into the centre and make a slit so that you can pop it around the base of the plant. This is to prevent cabbage root fly larvae from hatching by the base of the plant and burying under the soil to eat the roots.
Net against pigeons & butterflies
Pigeons love brassica plants and will easily destroy a crop of young plants in a morning. Meanwhile, cabbage white butterflies are attracted to brassicas and lay eggs on the leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are quick to nibble away the leaves and strip the plant bare. To protect against both these pests, cover plants with fine mesh netting or horticultural fleece.
Earth up as plants get taller
When plants start to grow a little taller, it is worth earthing them up at the base to keep them stable, particularly as we come into autumn with windier weather. Simply bring a little soil up around the base of the plant, like a molehill, and pat down firmly. You could stake them if they are in a particularly windy spot.
Keep well watered during dry spells
Try not to let the soil dry out, instead keeping the plants well watered so that the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged.
When to harvest
You will see the first broccoli spear/head forming at the top of the plant. Harvest it before the florets start to open by cutting off with a knife. Afterwards, you’ll see new spears appearing on side shoots, harvest these as they reach the right size and whilst the florets are still closed.