Calabrese originates from Calabria, the southern region of Italy. Many other of its siblings like cauliflower and sprouting broccoli have similar growing characteristics too. Whilst the others make a good winter vegetable, Calabrese is best enjoyed through the summer months. Calabrese plants form large leaves, which protects a green dome heads in late summer into autumn.
Here's Our Guide to Growing Calabrese:
How, Where & When to Grow Calabrese
Plants prefer rich soil and sunny site to perform well, before planting add 150g per square metre of general-purpose fertiliser such as Growmore. In spring, start seeds where they are to grow in drills 2cm deep or start seeds under protection in seed trays thinning out to individual 7cm pots before settling them into final planting position. Germination is quick and seedlings are up from 5-7 days when suitable conditions are met.
Direct sown should be thinned to 30cm between plants and with 45cm between rows. Potted plants should follow the same distancing as direct sown.
Keep plants well watered in summer months and cover with netting to protect plants from cabbage white butterflies from laying eggs under the leaves and keep netted during winter months to keep bird pest at bay. Water every 10-14 days in dry periods. Add high nitrogen fertiliser, such as sulphate of ammonia, at 35g (1oz) per square metre/yard when plants about 20cm (8in) tall. Better heads are produced in cooler summers as hot weather can encourage plants to run to seed prematurely.
Cut Calabrese heads in summer when they are less than 10cm across, cut when the flower shoots (spears) are well formed but before the individual flowers begin to open. Cut the central spear first. This is followed by a series of sideshoots, which can be picked regularly over four to six weeks.
Calabrese/Broccoli is a great source of vitamins K and C, a good source of folate (folic acid) and also provides potassium, fibre. Vitamin C – builds collagen, which forms body tissue and bone, and helps cuts and wounds heal. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals.
Calabrese/Broccoli has so many uses…sauté it, roast it, and even eat it raw! It is so easy to add it to your existing recipes…throw it raw in to a Caesar salad, add it your egg fried rice, next time your frying a steak try frying the Broccoli in another pan, it creates a super tasty caramelisation on the Broccoli.
If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides.