Purple Sprouting Broccoli for the Patient Gardener

I confess to not being a very patient person in many areas of my life, however, I’ve discovered that I am in fact a very patient gardener. For a whole year I’ve been waiting for Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB) to reward my efforts, I’m pleased to announce the wait is finally over. If you’re not a patient gardener, this crop is not for you. Sow from February, plant out from late spring and harvest the following spring. Now that’s a long old wait.

I will admit, wood pigeons set the harvest period back slightly, stripping the top florets just as they began to grow in February. I could have prevented that from happening by netting the plants, but, as regular readers to my blog will know, that’s not something I feel comfortable doing. The weather was awful in February, greenery and food were scarce for most wildlife (I do put out food for wild birds but the heavy snow kept covering it), with a heavy heart I turned a very blind eye to the destructive survival antics of the wood pigeons, remaining the ever patient gardener for just a bit longer than I would have liked.

At the moment, the pigeons no longer rely on my generosity to survive which means the PSB has had time to recover, right now it’s sending out side shoots of purple florets, just for me. I’m eagerly harvesting these florets, and jolly nice they are too. The more you pick the more you get, just don’t let those pretty purple buds flower, otherwise it’s game over. Would I grow it again? Probably. For the sheer fact that it’s a very tasty crop when little else is available in the vegetable garden. It’s rather expensive to buy in the supermarkets too, another good reason to grow it. Would I recommend PSB to other veg gardeners? Yes. If they have enough room….and plenty of patience.

82 comments

  1. From all the purple sprouting plants we started off with, only one made it to the finish. We suffered pigeon, chicken and child damage. We harvested the first spears this week and they were yummy! I would highly recommend growing some. Her x

  2. I love PSB but don’t have the space at the allotment to devote to it really. Patience isn’t my strong point either so for now I rely on my local farmers market for my supply of organic PSB. I think it’s one of those crops, like asparagus that are the next stage on for growers, the ones to feel really chuffed about when you have your own home grown ones.

    The photo shows how beautiful they are as well.

  3. Glad you managed to get some to harvest Willow Cottage Gardeners.
    Thank you for the comments on my photos!
    I’m growing Kale for the first time this year, it has been on my list of things to try for a long while. Thanks for the tip about the flowers!

  4. I had the same problem as you with the pigeons but I waited and was rewarded – we have had so many meals from the plants. I swore I wouldn’t bother with them again but they have redeemed themselves.

  5. Great photos Karen – and I have had the same experience with PSB. The packet said to sow in May and I’d be harvesting from November! I actually had my first harvest 3 weeks ago, so I’m already sowing for next year’s crop.

  6. Gorgeous photos. We’re trying PSB for the first time this year, after reading this I think we’ll be sowing it much sooner.

  7. I had planned on growing some PSB this year from some plug plants I picked up from my local garden centre seeing as my rabbit goes bezerk for it but i’m glad i read your post otherwise i would have been dispairing that it did not crop sooner. The rabbit and I shall have to learn some patience i fear

  8. There is a summer sprouting variety that doesn’t need the cold period that early varieties need. I’ve haven’t grown it so cannot comment on the cropping time.

  9. I’m impressed. I’ll admit to having neither the requisite patience or a green enough thumb — but I’m more than happy to live vicariously through your ventures!

    ;)

    So is the flavor the same as “traditional” broccoli?

  10. Congrats on finally getting some broccoli! I am not a patient gardener, I pull our carrots months before they are ready every year, so props to you for waiting.

  11. Lovely. Thank you for sharing. Your patience is so admirable, thinking I must grow me some purple flowering broccoli that my patience might also bloom so well :)

  12. Great photos!! I normally don’t have a thing for purple but I’ve gotta say that the shades of the second picture is truly amazing!! And I also need to confess that while I have patience for other things, I don’t really have a patience when it comes to gardening… especially weeding!! :P

  13. My husband grew some this year and I couldn’t believe how long he seemed to be saying ‘the purple sprouting broccoli is coming on well’. Finally it was ready but, the first time he cooked it, he overdid it a bit and put too many of the surrounding dark leaves in with it so it put me off a bit and I neglected the harvesting. Now the little yellow flowers are appearing and I feel guilty.

  14. I’m going to allow one plant to flower, just because they’re very pretty and bees go crazy for them.

  15. I’m currently on my second attempt at growing Purple Sprouting Broccoli, and seem to have planted it way too late again! My plants are tiny (we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, so just heading in to winter) but I’m hoping that there will be something to harvest in the spring. I shall definitely be sowing my seeds much earlier for the next growing season!

  16. I’ve started summer sprouting seeds already (plants almost ready to plant out) and will also sow purple sprouting soon. Hopefully, I can extend the picking season. Well, that’s the plan!

  17. We’re in late autumn, so I think that means you’re in early spring at the moment? So are you sowing the seeds in late winter? I need to get a handle on when I should start sowing! Same goes for my red brussels sprouts (I choose veges based on how exciting a colour they are!).

  18. Yes it’s spring here at the moment, funnily enough I’m also growing red sprouts this year. Summer sprouting seeds are started in early spring to crop in summer and early sprouting (confusing name I know) are started in early spring to early summer to crop the following spring.

  19. […] The Garden Smallholder tells us that you should be patient to grow purple sprouting broccoli, … right now it’s sending out side shoots of purple florets, just for me. I’m eagerly harvesting these florets, and jolly nice they are too. The more you pick the more you get, just don’t let those pretty purple buds flower, otherwise it’s game over. Would I grow it again? Probably. For the sheer fact that it’s a very tasty crop when little else is available in the vegetable garden. It’s rather expensive to buy in the supermarkets too, another good reason to grow it. […]

  20. Beautiful and you are right–no patience here for that crop. I am lucky to get the spinach to grow this spring. What crazy weather this year! The seeds won’t germinate and if they do, they do not grow, and the nestling birds are dying in their cold boxes! Mother Nature is really testing us this year. Congrats on FP. Please visit my world/blog. D.

  21. I’ve never tried purple broccoli, but it is certainly unique in appearance! My husband and I just started our vegetable garden this spring at our new house. We’ve been pretty patient with all that we’ve planted so far, so maybe we have the patience to try this one next season.

    Great photos!

  22. beautiful photos, it looks like a gorgeous plant. Is it something that would grow here in the colder temps of Alberta, Canada? I’m assuming you’re in the UK.

    Congrats on being FP’d.

  23. That’s too long a wait for PBS. Enjoyed your post. Congratulations for being selected for ‘Freshly Pressed.’

  24. I’ll give you a tip. plant F1 purple sprouting broccoli. I don’t plant till mid summer at earliest and i still get full sized plants the next spring. 9 months in ground instead of almost 12. you can fit another quick crop in that time as its prime growing season

  25. Last spring was so hot, hottest on record. Everything went out earlier than usual which is why the plants occupied the ground longer. But yes, the usual time would be what you’ve described. Still a long wait for most gardeners.

  26. My son tried this broccoli last year. It was frustrating and he gave up.

    This year he found it growing in his compost pile, very nicely! Go figure.

  27. Oh, I might try my hand at growing some! I love purple and they look delicious! I wonder if the color adds any health benefits?

  28. The purple broccoli must be very happy with all the attention she’s been getting. How lucky to have a patient gardener, eh?

    Best of luck to you and your garden.

  29. Thrice times congratulations Karen – first on your patience, it was well worth it, second on capturing such great photos, the colour is wonderful and third is being shown on Freshly Pressed. I tried growing broccoli last year to no success.

  30. Lovely post and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I am a cancer health educator and healthy food blogger so I am a big advocate of PSB, not only for its unique and gorgeous taste and appearance, but also its tremendous anti-cancer properties. A growing list of recipes featuring it on my blog (as well as kale) but I have yet to grow it. Mainly because we have backyard hens who, as you will know, strip anything edible that noses through the soil. Lucky you with such a beautiful crop – and the patience to grow it.

  31. Nothing can beat spring broccoli for flavour and tenderness – around here we can seed it in June or even July for a spring crop – so It doesn’t take all THAT long…

  32. So beautiful!!! Does it taste as good as green brocoli? I bet it states amazing!

  33. Congratulations, on the broccoli! I too love nature, and find myself able to be patient with it in a very serene way, when I am awaiting something wonderful. Blessings on your journey and continued joy to you and your garden! Erin, Bella Bleue

  34. I’ve never heard of purple broccoli. Now I’ll have to look up more informaiton on it. Our family loves broccoli… especially my 6 year old boy (believe it or not). Does this change colors back to green when cooked (like purple beans)?

  35. I havent grown broccoli since I was a kid in New Jersey. When I did, it grew like crazy. I remember just tons of broccoli – it was awsome. Never saw the purple kind, not even at the market, so this is a pleasant surprise. Cant grow it now it the warm climate of florida, at least I havent tried it. I think it is prob too warm here for it. Thanks for the pics and bringing back memories . .

  36. I have never even heard of purple sprouting broccoli. Lovely pics and congrats on getting featured on FP!

    Shobha

  37. Sherre, yes you’re correct. It turns green once cooked, to answer previous questions it does taste like Calabrese or the well known larger broccoli – also known as Calabrese.

    Thanks for all the lovely comments everyone. I will be growing the summer variety (also purple), hopefully it will crop this summer. Right now the UK is having a really wet and cold spring!

  38. How did I miss this post? You are more generous to wood pigeons than I am, Karen. We don’t have much space for cabbages this year, but I will net the ones we do grow and put copper rings around the bottom to deter slugs and snails. You have inspired me to want to grow psb when we have more room, though.

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