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Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

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By Kate Cummings, class of 2020

Purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) is a welcome reward for the late winter gardener. Deep purple PSB florets bring much-needed color and contrast to the winter garden. Florets turn green when cooked and bring a delicate almost sweet flavor to the winter dinner plate.
And, those rewards keep coming. Cutting the central stalk stimulates side shoots to sprout. Harvesting the mature side shoots stimulates yet more sprouting. Voila - the more you harvest, the more you get.

So what’s required? You’ll need patience (expect 180-200 days to maturity), a good cold snap (chilly nights get florets started), stakes/cages for support (plants grow 3-4 feet tall with shallow roots), vigilant harvesting, and the usual attention to IPM recommendations for cole crops.

What’s the reward? You’ll get beauty (think edible ornamentals), delicate flavor (florets, stalks, and leaves), and, compared to single crown broccoli, more manage-able harvest quantities over a longer time period (great for smaller households).

PSBs shown here were planted as 3-4” seedlings in late August, first harvested in early February, and still producing in late February. These heavy feeders did well with a light side-dressing of 4-5-3 fertilizer when seedlings were first planted and again as florets began to form. Mulch kept the soil moist and helped moderate soil temperatures. Mesh cloches helped to keep pests in check (although September was a battle!).For more information on broccoli and other cole crops:http://ipm.ucanr.edu/home-and-landscape/broccoli/cultural-tips/

Learn more about vegetable gardening in general
http://cagardenweb.ucanr.edu/Vegetables/
http://acmg.ucanr.edu/Your_Garden_Month-by-Month/

What to plant in Alameda and when:
http://acmg.ucanr.edu/files/264645.pdf

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