This time of year you will find a wide variety of nutritious cool-season vegetable starts at the nursery. Purple sprouting broccoli is one that is well worth a try though it takes up a bit more space. The nutty, chewy leaves and numerous purple heads are delicious. The purpleness fades to deep green when cooked. Here are a few more things to know:
It takes time: It will take a few months from planting the starts before harvest begins. It can take around 200-plus days until cutting. This means planting now will yield results late next spring.
It gets big: Those cute little purple broccoli starts planted will grow tall and wide. Plants average about 3-feet tall and about as wide when buds first begin to show. It’s best to plant this broccoli in a wind-protected area, or stake up, as plants can topple over in a storm or spring wind event.
Low maintenance: Once the rainy season begins, mulch the bed with rice straw. One of the best things about fall/winter broccoli is that there are no pests like aphids and green cabbage worms that can render heads and leaves inedible at times.
Long harvest: Every time you cut the heads of purple sprouting broccoli, more come back. This is a good value crop. Even though it takes up space, harvest can be had for several weeks.
Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.