This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Broccoli and Calabrese, and Vegetable Gardening Guides

Growing Guide

During the last few days I have been preparing some more Gardening Guides for the GardenMessenger web-site. This time they are introductions to Vegetable Gardening, dealt with crop by crop. To give an idea of their scope the following is the Vegetable Guide for Broccoli and Calabrese

Broccoli is now a name restricted to sprouting broccoli, the so-called cauliflower broccoli being regarded as winter and spring cauliflowers respectively. Sprouting broccoli in both its purple and white forms are invaluable green vegetable crops for the darkest days of winter in cold and temperate areas.

There are two main purple sprouting cultivars known quite logically as ‘Early Purple Sprouting’ and ‘Late Purple Sprouting’. The early kind can be harvested from late autumn until mid-winter, when the late kind takes over and continues until the middle of spring. White sprouting broccoli is late maturing and usually ready to pick at the same time as the later purple kinds.

Calabrese is grown rather like sprouting broccoli, but is not as tough. It is sown during spring and harvested in late summer or autumn. The heads that are harvested are bright or grey-green, fewer in number, and larger than sprouting broccoli. There are innumerable cultivars, but ‘Express Corona’ and ‘Corvet’ are well tried kinds.

Sprouting broccoli and calabrese are sown at varying times during the spring according to cultivar. It is best to sow them in a nursery bed and then transplant them as young plants in their permanent positions. Both broccoli and calabrese germinate freely and should be sown very thinly. They are subject to flea beetle attacks in their seedling stages and dusting with an insecticidal powder is a wise precaution. Flea beetles pepper the leaves of seedling brassicas with tiny holes and often cause their demise.

Once the first two or three true leaves appear the plants can be planted in their permanent positions. The planting distances depend upon the cultivar, but sufficient space should be left between the rows to permit regular hoeing. Soil preparations for broccoli and calabrese are very important. The soil should be in good heart, but must not have been recently dressed with organic matter as this may promote soft, cold-vulnerable growth. Prior to planting the soil should be firmed and raked.

To visit the Vegetable Gardening Guides presently on the GardenMessenger web-site, visit click here

Happy Gardening



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