Wednesday 25 March 2015

PSB update

This year the Purple Sprouting Broccoli has been very good. The quality has been good, and the timing has been good. Much as I like PSB, I don't want it all to come on at the same time. It doesn't freeze well, and is best eaten as soon as possible after harvesting.

This is a "Red Spear" plant moments before cutting - at its best.

This, on the other hand is a "Rudolph" plant putting up another flush of little spears three weeks after the main head was cut. They are not as big or as succulent as the first lot, but acceptable nonetheless.

Meanwhile, this is "Red Arrow", biding its time. It has a tight cluster of nascent spears snuggled down under the leaves, just waiting for the right moment to spring into action.

This year my four different varieties of PSB have all developed at different times, which is just what I wanted. It spreads the harvesting time over a period of about two months. The crop has been coming on at a rate with which we can keep pace. Enough for us, but also some to give away, because our daughter Emma and her husband Dave like it as much as we do and it is nice to be able to give them some sometimes.

For the record, the order of maturity has been: Rudolph (Feb), Red Spear (March), Red Arrow (soon - probably early April) and Early Purple Sprouting (Despite its name, looks like being ready last - late April I would say).  They were all sown at the same time, in the first week of May 2014.

Having grown PSB for many years, I think the key to success is to get the plants to grow as big as possible during the Summer and Early Autumn, because after that they hardly grow at all. This means that you need to sow the seeds promptly. Anything after the end of May would be too late, in my opinion. Last year I also went to great lengths to protect my PSB from butterflies / caterpillars. If you don't keep on top of this they can damage your plants a lot and weaken them. This year I will try the same approach, using my Build-a-Ball kits and netting.


  1. Your PSB really has been fabulous this year. Sadly it isn't something I can grow as it wouldn't survive the winter, but it looks like such a wonderful plant.

  2. It's good that you can extend the season by planting different varieties. Are they all much of a muchness or can you tell the difference between them? Is one variety better tasting than the rest?

  3. Jo, in terms of taste I think they are very similar, but in terms of plant structure they can be very different, and I would certainly be able to tell them apart.

  4. The PSB is very impressive - I especially like the fact that it keeps producing after the main head is cut back. But like Daphne, it is not something that we can grow in our climate.

  5. Lucky you Mark in the balmy south.
    My PSB is very disappointing so far and we have had persistent cold winds and temperatures down at 2 to 5C fairly frequently. I am hoping for some fine spears but they are VERY slow.
    Worse the collared doves love them and with such slow growth hold the plant back even further.
    Like you I had magnificent sturdy plants before the winter.

  6. Very impressive Mark, they look wonderfully healthy, all that hard work paid off.

  7. I'm impressed with your purple sprouting broccoli we really should get round growing some again.

  8. You've done well to get your four different varieties of PSB developing at different times, and it's good to share home grown veg!

    All the best Jan


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