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Eat your greens

Sprouting broccoli is utterly delicious and easy to grow, says Hannah Stephenson

This delicious green vegetable with its purple or white flowery heads is among the first to herald the start of spring. Its sweet heads and tender stalks are perfect when picked young and steamed for a few minutes.

While it is slower to grow than calabrese, it’s useful to have in the garden during the months when there’s not much else around. It’s a hardy and high-yielding cut-and-come-again crop.

Seeds are sown in spring and planted out in the summer, in a sunny spot on firm ground, rich in organic matter. Seeds should be sown thinly and later thinned out further to around 8cm apart. They will need to be well watered the day before moving the seedlings to their permanent home.

They will need watering during dry weather in summer and mulching to save moisture. Draw up the soil around the stems as winter approaches and firm the stems if they are loosened by windrock.

When harvesting, cut the spears (flower shoots) when they are well-formed but before the small flower buds have opened. Good purple sprouting varieties include ‘Claret’ and ‘Early Purple Sprouting’.

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