No less than a fortnight after sowing my green magic broccoli and all year round cauliflower seeds – they’d sprouted!
Seeing fresh seedlings is such a great sight and I could see that I run the risk of these seedlings going leggy. Seedlings go leggy after the plant grows to find as much light possible. As it tries to get closer and closer to the light, the plant becomes floppy and will struggle to support itself.
I usually like to wait until the seedlings have two sets of leaves on them before I transplant them into individual pots – but I thought, on this occasion, it won’t hurt to give them a little more room.
Transplanting seedlings, you just have to be really gently and avoid handling the seedlings by the stem.
- Fill a pot with multi-purpose compost or potting compost and water, transplanting the seedlings into moist environment encourages root growth.
- Make a hole in the centre of the pot – using a tea spoon or a dibber gently prise out the seedlings from the cells making sure you take lots of the root ball with it.
- Plant the seedlings into the pot covering the base of the plant as much as you can.
And that’s all there is to it really.
Be sure to keep your seedlings watered and harden them off before you plant them outside.
Last year I grew Broccoli purple sprouting and I’m sorry to report that for me, these were a total disappointment. They’re still planted in the ground, and I’ve not had a single sprig off of any of them in the past 12 months. It won’t be long before I dig these out and place these on the compost heap. The year before I grew broccoli Green Magic and the results were quite outstanding – so I’m going back to growing them for now.
Broccoli Green Magic offered a good yield and were low maintenance – perfect for growing at the allotment. Much like the cauliflower ‘All of the year round’, I’ve decided to start these off inside of the cold frame – again I’ve averaged around four seeds per cell. Green Magic Broccoli was created by the botanists at the Sakata Seed Co-orporation in 2003-2003 and has been developed to survive western growing conditions.
Growing Broccoli at the allotment or in your own back garden is easier than you think. I filled up a polystyrene planter with some multi-purpose compost, pushed the cells with a block of wood and carefully dropped four seeds into each cell. Cover with more multi-purpose soil and don’t forget to water.
Broccoli seeds look a lot like cauliflower seeds, so be sure to label your planters correctly to avoid any confusion. That said, I’ll be inter cropping these with the cauliflower as the mixture of scents helps to reduce any problems with pests and diseases.
I suffer with quite a bit of flea beetle at the allotment and I’ll hopefully be tackling and solving the issue this year.
Recently, cancer-fighting compounds have been found in broccoli and is arguably the most nutritious of all the brassicaceae. I can’t wait to harvest these and try out some new recipes in the kitchen. Fresh, tasty broccoli really helps to take your stir fry to another level.
I’ve been cultivating Brussels Sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli over the last few weeks and they’ve now reached the stage whereby they’re big enough to plant out. The plants are around 15-20cm tall with good robust steams and accompanying lovely foliage.
I’ve prepared a bed, (and by prepare, I mean weeded) that has good exposure to the sun. I’ve also chosen to plant the brussels sprouts and broccoli together as the mixture of scents will cut down on the amount of pests that are likely to attack the plants.
Not so long ago I teased out the seedlings and planted them in to pots to give them a bit of room to grow. Since then I lost of couple of Brussels sprout plants to slug attacks – something I’ll have to bare in mind for later on. Planting Brussels sprouts and broccoli is very simple, just dig a hole big enough for the root stock, place the plant in the hole and cover well. I’ve mulched the surface of the bed with some goodness from the compost bin, I’m hoping this will retain water and keep the weeds down.
Brussels sprouts and broccoli are both from Brassica oleracea specie so it’s safe to say that they’re both likely to attract the same pests.
Brassica pests and diseases
Slugs: It’s no surprise that slugs will try and go for my plants, they eat anything in their path and the sprouts and broccoli are clear targets. I’ve peppered the bed with slug pellets to try and keep damage to a minimal.
Flea Beetle: I think these are already attacking my broad beans, you know you’ve got flea beetle to deal with when you notice little white holes in the leaves of your plants. As I’ve said before, I’ve planted broccoli and sprouts together to use the mixture of scents to confuse flea beetles and any other pests.
Pigeons and butterflies: Pigeons and butterflies love sprouts, broccoli, cabbages and cauliflower and they’ll soon make short work of your plants if you’re not careful. I’ve put together a rudimentary frame and covered the plants with netting to try and stop butterflies and pigeons getting in to eat the plants.
Earlier on in the year I planted some Early Purple Sprouting seeds in some polystyrene cells and they’ve really done well.
Like the Brussels sprouts I’ve got to the point whereby I need to separate them into their own pots.
I’m conscious of separating seedlings early on so that they do not become ‘leggy’. They become leggy because they get too much heat and not enough light – this is often the case in seed trays as each of them compete for both – they result are spindly looking seedlings.
If the plants are on a heat bench or in a propagator and they are looking spindly, turn the heat down and try to give them as much light as possible.
As a rule of thumb, seedlings can be thinned out when their leaves begin to touch their neighbor and when they have sprouted their second set of leaves. This is known as the true leaf stage.
To separate the seedlings, gently tease them out using an old spoon or a dibber and then carefully separate the seedlings by holding them by the leaves. Avoid holding the stem or the roots as they can damage easily.
In a pot, With the dibber, create a large hole deep and wide enough to hold the root system and then lower a seedling in and firm the soil around the base of the seedling. As a rule, I tend to water the pot before I place the seedlings in so that I know that that the seedlings are going into moist conditions.
It’s important to keep seedlings properly watered before you plant them out in the garden, however, that said, Generally speaking, you’re better off under watering your plants ever so slightly. This may sound strange but you’re encouraging the roots to search for water and that develop a better root system.
Before I plant out, I need to harden the plants off, this means getting them used to the outdoor temperatures. I keep my seedlings in a cold frame so I will place these outside for a week to 10 days before I plant out.
I’ve chosen to sow the seeds of Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli, because it’s a hardy variety, bursting with flavour which, with a bit of luck, will satisfy food stocks with some heavy cropping.
I think they’ll also look pretty funky next to the Brussels sprouts and some cabbage and no roast dinner would be complete without some broccoli on the side.
Early purple sprouting broccoli was the broccoli of choice for the Romans, and its name comes from the Italian ‘brocco’, meaning arm or branch. Broccoli has been grown it the UK since the 18th century, but this particular variety has only really become popular in the last 30 years or so.
Broccoli, as a variety, is in the same family as the cabbage and is related to the cauliflower. Last year I planted broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower together and it kept pests and diseases down, due to the mixture of scents and smells.
I’ve filled the seed tray of six cells and planted two seeds to each cell, and placed them about two centimetres under the compost. I expect germination within two weeks.
Broccoli is a great source of iron but it also has other health benefits. Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which when injected into the body is transformed into sulforaphane – a compound used to fight cancer cells.
Broccoli also reduces cholesterol and improves bone health. If you have heart problems, or issues controlling blood sugar levels, broccoli will help.
(Yes I did Google the information above, as I’m not a scientist 🙂 ).
Remember that when your mother tries to force it down you!