Today it rained all day. However, there was a ray of sunshine in the form of lots of little purple heads on my sprouting broccoli plants (pictured).
I’d harvested a couple of small handfuls of PSB over the last fortnight, but this morning I picked a good bag full, which provided a welcome pick me up after a difficult winter.
I’ve lost my leeks, the kale’s not been itself and my sprouts were tiny. Even the perpetual spinach hasn’t been as productive as normal, but the sight of PSB heads on my plants this morning certainly brought a smile to my face.
I even weighed the harvest, just for old times’ sake. The heads weighed 136g, worth £1.16 in the supermarket.
A Crop for Last Year or This Year?
PSB is a funny old vegetable. Sown from March to May, it’s not normally ready until February of the next year, so I’m not sure if I’d describe PSB as the first of the new season’s crops, or the final one of last year.
That’s a broccoli brainteaser right there – am I growing for this season or next??
As you’re essentially overwintering, a hardy variety is important, and I’ve found Mr. Fothergill’s Early Purple Sprouting a good choice, and gives harvests from Feb to May.
Picking Out the Middle Head
I always make sure I keep an eye on my PSB once the new year comes, as a bigger purple head will develop on the plant. Nipping this off before it grows too large will encourage lots of smaller side shoots.
Last year saw broccoli trauma on my plot, as the unusually warm weather sent the plant to seed very early. Cue veggie heartbreak, as PSB is much loved in our house, particularly considering it arrives when there isn’t much else worth harvesting.
Purple sprouting, with a little lemon squeezed over the top, makes a lovely side dish but I cooked this Waitrose PSB pasta dish tonight, which is a favourite way of using the little purple heads. The recipe is a fairly plain one, but more than enough flavour comes from the fresh broccoli.
Hopefully, this year will be better than last and a more measured build-up to summer will give a good harvest, whether it’s the last of the previous year or the first of this.
One thing I do know though: despite the rain and chilly winds, a tasty purple sprouting broccoli dinner is another sign that spring is well and truly on its way.