Real Men Sow

Anxious Times for the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Wishing It Would Get Colder

In my house, one of the favourite crops of the year is the prolific purple sprouting broccoli.

These little purple florets are real nuggets of flavour, and Ailsa especially loves them. Together with rhubarb, they burst on to the scene, bringing colour and life to the plot again after the winter.

Slow Start
My PSB was slow to get going this year, and initially only one plant was producing. I made my first picking around the middle of March, and once the other three plants caught up, I was harvesting decent crops about every three days.

Between March 13th and April 9th, I picked 654g of broccoli, worth over a fiver. This was more than enough for the two of us, and provided lovely accompaniments to dinners. I also found a delicious and very quick PSB pasta dish, which I made a couple of times. Purple sprouting life was good.

Stemmy and Seedy
Then something strange happened. PSB is a cut and come again plant, and it suddenly began growing very ‘stemmy’, with little or none of the nutritious leaves, and the florets were very ‘seedy’.

I’m not sure why this has occurred, and my only idea is the unusually high temperatures we’re currently experiencing. This got another couple of sunny days this weekend, with temperatures predicted to rising to five degrees centigrade higher than the average for the time of year.

We’ve also had two weekends where temperatures have reached 20 degrees centigrade.

Please Don’t Go to Seed
To try and beat this, I’ve been continued to pick the PSB to make sure it keeps going. The purple heads on the florets are buds, and left to their own devices will turn into flowers, and the plant won’t produce anything more. However, with a rather sad face, I’ve chucked it all into the compost bin due to the stemmy, seed nature of the stalks.

I haven’t eaten any PSB since April 9th, which is eight days ago. Its gutting to see the plants in this way, especially since we’ve now entered the hungry gap, and there is very little else coming off the plot. In recent years I’ve come to rely on purple sprouting for my greens during spring, and there’s only so much spinach one man can eat.

Normally, my PSB is so bountiful that I’m up to my neck in it, but I’m worried that this might be the end, unless the weather cools down and stops fooling the plants in to thinking they’re weeks on. We’re going away over Easter, and I’m fretting that if there is nobody about to keep picking, the florets will go to seed and that’ll be my PSB lot for 2011.

Some Cold Weather Would Be Nice. And Rain.
I never thought I’d find myself wishing for colder weather, but it would make my week to see a big old dip in temperatures. And while I’m at it, a few of these April showers would be nice. They seem to be missing in action round my way.

On the bright side, the rhubarb’s doing well, and I have two asparagus spears poking through. I also realised the importance of my spring greens, so I gave them some TLC today. I’m going to need them over the coming weeks, and having managed to keep those pesky pigeons away, they’re looking splendid.

All is not lost. *Internet smiley face*

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8 Comments

  1. Alan @ it's not work it's gardeningApril 18, 2011 at 12:56 pmReply

    This plant is so rarely grown over here from what I can tell. I’d love to give it a try, but think we get too cold for it to overwinter successfully.

    Is it behaving how it usually does at the end of its season (summer I assume)?

  2. NomeApril 18, 2011 at 1:31 pmReply

    I’m a total failure when it comes to PSB – I just can’t seem to keep it safe from the pigeons, caterpillars, flea beetles, snow… This year I made it through to March with ONE live healthy plant for the first time… and it all went to flower before I harvested any! :( Not sure if it’s entirely the weather’s fault or just my own tardiness… But oh well, here I go again…

  3. PaulApril 19, 2011 at 6:05 amReply

    I know what you mean about wanting a bit of cold wet weather… It’d be nice to not have to water the plot this much in April, esp as it probably means it’ll rain all summer ;)

  4. TopVegApril 19, 2011 at 7:44 amReply

    We love psb too. But we usually get ours in March. It seems better to murder it by taking really short shoots – but it is so disappointing when it gets stringy. Think you are right about it being too warm -

  5. JohnApril 21, 2011 at 7:05 pmReply

    This hot weather is weird. Had some rhubarb going to seed the other day.

    • Jono

      JonoApril 27, 2011 at 6:31 amReplyAuthor

      Hi John – mine is going to flower too. Never seen that before, even later in the year. Really odd. Half my plot thinks its mid summer.

  6. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » This Crazy Weather, It’s Effects on the Plot, and Some Ways Around It.May 23, 2011 at 9:03 pmReply

    [...] broccoli, acting as some kind of time machine, and persuading the plants that it was 6 weeks later. After a promising start, the broccoli grew leggy, and in a flash, little yellow flowers appeared and the PSB had gone to seed for this [...]

  7. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » I Have Aubergines, But Don’t Really Know WhySeptember 16, 2011 at 5:13 pmReply

    [...] April and May were positively balmy. Lovely for an unusually dry and warm Easter weekend in the Brecon Beacons, but for the veggies it was too hot, too early. My rhubarb flopped and my PSB went to seed. [...]

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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