Saturday, 15 January 2011

Brassicas in close-up

Here's a progress report on my Winter brassicas, with some pictures of Sprouting Broccoli and Cavolo Nero

I think you can see why this kale is called "Black Tuscany"... It's very dark, isn't it?

Cavolo Nero "Nero di Toscana"

The undersides of the leaves are a much fresher shade of green...

Cavolo Nero

This one is white, not black... Sprouting Broccoli "White Eye". Well, the flowering shoots will be white, even if the foliage is not. No sign of any shoots yet though. This is a late variety.

Sprouting Broccoli "White Eye"

Those of you whose blogs are listed on "Blotanical" will probably look closely at the label on the stake in my next photo! Not quite the same, but nearly.

I just love the photo opportunities offered by the shapes and colours of the broccoli...

You can see that this variety is going to be the first one harvested. The shoots are quite big already and growing rapidly.

How do you like this "framed" version of the last photo, with the toning colours? Does it enhance it or not? Should I use techniques like this on my blog, or is it a waste of time? [Did you see my post called "Playing with my Polaroids" on 11th January, where I was experimenting with this sort of thing?]

This is the bed in which both the Cavolo Nero and broccoli are growing... (in the sunshine for a change!)

Today in Fleet it is very windy, and I have been outside making sure that my brassicas are securely tied-up. Don't want them blowing over, or snapping off, at this stage of the game. Whilst doing this task I spotted a ladybird clinging on to one of the stakes. I hope it survives, to assist me with keeping the aphids under control later in the year...

For me, the broccoli harvest is probably the high spot of the gardening calendar: about nine months of patient waiting will be rewarded by about 4 to 6 weeks of harvesting, with fresh broccoli on the menu probably every other day, because it doesn't lend itself to freezing. And broccoli is definitely one of those vegetables that is never anywhere near as good when you buy it in a shop. It HAS to be home-grown!


  1. Hate to say it but I prefer the unframed one! I think if I was going to frame it I would keep the mount white rather than purple and also make is wider. I'm trying to master close-ups as I can still take better ones with my old camera.

  2. Hi GLA; I think I agree with you. The frames are OK once in a while, but perhaps too much of a pfaff to be worth using all the time. I want my blog to be a down-to-earth (no pun intended) record of my gardening and cooking exploits, not an art gallery!

  3. I agree with the others, prefer unframed. I've just got a pack of kale seeds and will be giving them a go this year. Have never even tasted it so it'll be a surprise. I must say I've just about given up on brassicas. They always get eaten by white cabbage moth caterpillars. Would love to have broccoli. I'll give it one more go.

  4. Hi Veggiegobbler; I also suffer from the depredations of the Cabbage Whites, but in Summer I usually manage to deter most of them by netting my brassicas - it's worth the effort, I reckon. The Cavolo Nero is really something special - much better than the "ordinary" curly kale types. (Did you see Jane's 26-Sep-10 recipe for pasta and Cavolo Nero in creamy garlic sauce??)

  5. Hey Mark, it is true that home grown broccoli is nothing like the store bought stuff. I never actually liked broccoli until I grew it myself, and found out that I actually love the stuff! I don't know why, but I had great success with it too, it was one of my best performing vegetables. I haven't tried kale, it looks a beautiful colour.

    Do you eat the broccoli leaves? They are very tasty when young.

    I don't mind the polaroid style frame, however it does lend the photos a slightly frivolous air. And growing vegetables is serious stuff!

  6. Beautiful brassica crop!! I love the Tuscan kale!

  7. Hi Ali; Yes, I like eating the small broccoli leaves. I also like the small leaves of cauliflower, and the (peeled) main stem of cauli, calabrese etc. Actually, I think the stem is the best bit because it has texture as well as flavour.
    This year I am going to try Brokali - a new hybrid of broccoli and kale.
    Re photos - I think I will stick with the no-frills type of photo most of the time.

  8. Still can't get over the apparent mildness of your winter!

  9. I hate to admit it, but I agree with everything Ali said. :-( Commercially produced broccoli (in Australia anyway() i one of the most sprayed crops and has a high 'chemical footprint'. No wonder home grown stuff is so much better. Tuscan Kale is one of my is so handsome.

  10. Cavolo nero is my very very very favourite brassica!

  11. That variety of kale is my daughter's favorite (she oddly prefers kale to junk food). That sounds like an amazing broccoli harvest. We have sporadic luck -- it depends on how cold our spring stays.

  12. It's interesting that so many of you (e.g. Eliza, Alessandra, Holly, Hazel..) speak so highly of Tuscan Kale. Here in the UK people are mostly a bit "suspicious" of it I think, perhaps because it is still a comparitive rarity.

  13. Hi Mark, you are really getting the hang of your camera, lovely sharp images. Plus one for "no coloured frame" for the photos though.

    Really looking forward to my own first crop of sprouting broccoli. Of course first I have to have a bed in which to grow them!

  14. I have been growing and selling kale on my market stand for a little while now. One regular customer makes kale chips by coating them with a spice mix and baking them. I havent tried yet but from all reports it is good!!!!!I have also been experimenting with making new plants from the little plantlets? that form on the stem as the plant ages. Have you noticed them and have you tried to propagate them? I have had some sucess but have never read anything about this sort of propagation. Your garden is so neat! It looks great, I will be back.

  15. Hi JB; No, I have not tried propagating kale or broccoli from the spears / sideshoots. I hope you will do a post about this technique for us.


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