Wednesday 9 July 2014

Planting Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Twenty-four hours after my Broad Bean plants came out of the ground they have been replaced by some PSB plants:

I cut the Broad Bean plants down to ground level, but I left the roots in place. They have nodules on them that retain nitrogen, which will be beneficial to the PSB plants. I also added Growmore general-purpose fertiliser to restore some vigour to the soil.

Can you see that there is a plant tied to a bamboo can in the middle of the bed? It is a volunteer "Love-in-a-Mist" (Nigella Damascena). I hadn't the heart to pull it up, so it can take its chances and live with the PSB for a bit...

I have planted six PSB plants, two each of "Early Purple Sprouting" and "Rudolph", and one each of "Red Arrow" and "Red Spear". This is a deliberate ploy to try to extend the cropping season. This is how big they are at planting time:

I normally plant them quite deep, with the soil level with the lowest leaf. This will encourage their roots to go deep which will in turn aid stability. So here we are - six plants settling in to their new home.

In a line around the edge of the bed I have planted some Corn Salad (aka Lamb's Lettuce, Mache) and some Landcress (aka American Cress).

Both of those are small, low-growing vegetables that won't interfere with the main crop. This technique is called "inter-cropping" or "under-planting". It allows me to get two crops simultaneously from the same space.

I had some fun (not!) with a net to cover the PSB. The only net I had left is a lightweight extruded plastic one, which is really hard to handle because it is quite stiff, not at all soft or flexible. In other words, it has a mind of its own! And to make matters worse, it is square, not rectangular. Because of this I had to put in some supporting stakes that are really too short for my liking, otherwise the net would not reach the ground. This means that in a few weeks time I will have to replace the stakes with taller ones, and the net with a better one - probably the one which currently protects my Blueberries. You can see that after pegging-down the net I was left with quite a bit of excess material at the sides, which I have tried to control with some heavy stones.

Just before putting the net in place I treated the bed with nematodes to reduce the likelihood of infestation by Cabbage Root Fly, and I sprinkled some slug pellets around to keep the molluscs at bay. Unfortunately without all these precautions the PSB would probably not survive very long!

I have five PSB plants left over now, which I will keep as spares, just in case of casualties.

Once I'm confident that the main plants are settled in and growing nicely, I'll dispose of the spares. Now all I have to do is wait another 9 months or so until harvest-time!


  1. My goal next year is to plant some PSB!! When did you start your plants? March or April? Is it too late to plant by seeds?

    1. Juliet, according to my records, I sowed the PSB seeds on 2nd May. I think it is probably too late to sow for this year. If you could get seedlings or small plants, that would be OK of course. Or you could sow the Summer types instead...

    2. Thanks for info. I just ordered some organic PSB seeds through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Guess I'll be patient and wait till next May!

  2. It is lucky that it is one of you favorite plants, because that takes a long time. Like you when my fava beans got ripped out, I immediately planted up. I took out the whole plant though including the roots. I was planting carrots and I needed to loosen the soil up and remove all the obstructions. And my compost pile probably needed the nitrogen more than the carrots.


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