Seasons Firsts

It’s time to celebrate, the new seasons crops are ready.

The first new crops of the season are extra special. I’ve waited all winter to taste fresh new growth. The plants themselves have sat throughout the winter months, taking a battering from the weather – be it rain, snow, wind or frost, and yes some weak rays of warmth from the sun.

And what better way to celebrate than with Purple Sprouting Broccoli. The seeds were sown in late April last year, planted out sometime in May and have weathered neglect marvellously. This year I grew some under the Climbing French Beans, a suggestion I picked up from a gardening forum. It worked – the pigeons couldn’t get to the plants, what is it about Pigeons and their love of greens? And the usual caterpillar damage and white fly infestations that are often a problem here, simply didn’t happen.

I spotted the first signs of the tender stems of Purple Sprouting Broccoli in February, but have had to wait till now before I was able to get a proper picking. On Friday I collected a carrier bag full, too much just for me, friends were invited and before I knew it we had a splendid evening planned with dishes made and brought along, wine consumed alongside plenty of chat and laughter.

I love them lightly steamed, don’t boil these babies – there’s no need. You want to cook them so that they still retain some crunch. A few minutes is all it takes. When cooked they are the deepest green you can imagine, almost black in colour. I’m convinced you can taste the vitamins and iron! We ate them plain with butter and salt and pepper. They have a delicate flavour and don’t need anything fancy. Dressed with anchovy butter is divine, but one of my favourites is to have them mixed in with some Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino.

I got lucky, there were leftovers, a rarity in this house. So I had them cold the next day, dressed with an Asian Style Vinaigrette of soy, rice wine vingear, lime juice, garlic, chilli and some toasted sesame seeds. Bliss!

They are in the ground for a long time, getting on for a year, but with careful planning and planting they don’t take up too much room. And those first tender stems are worth the wait! It will soon be time to start sowing again…..

Purple Sprouting Broccoli – from RealSeeds – Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli


  • Divine! You are so lucky having plants grow through the winter, though we do have lettuce and radishes ready soon and of course the dandelion salad is always a goodie at this time of year! Speaking of which now is the best time to pick the leaves, best i get busy! c

    • Divine darhling (always makes me think of Ab Fab!) Have you thought of getting/making a polytunnel? Or would that not work for you out there in flat land with wind raising the roof?

  • Lucky! My attempts at cole crops have always been thwarted by bugs…
    But I CAN buy it from others who have better luck than I…
    Love the anchovy butter sugestion!

    • It’s one of the few greens I seem to manage to grow – cabbages get mullered by slugs, cauliflowers bolt. But the PSB seems to do just fine.
      And phew you can get some locally – it’s grown commercially in Kent and Sussex, but is very expensive, I’m told one of the reasons is that it has a short shelf life the other being that they can’t mechanically pick it. But it is tasty!

  • Beautiful broccoli! I’ve been missing broccoli and green beans, but we will have them soon. I like the sound of your Asian marinade and I love broccoli thrown into cooking pasta for the last thirty seconds.

    • I know what you mean about missing certain fruit and veg. I saw the red currants and blueberries now have some teeny shoots on them, a sure sign of summer food to come!

    • Boing! Back in the Uk for a few days, then back to Fance for a few more, then back again…. Boing said Zebedee!! I’m doing my bit for greenhouse emissions…… NOT!

  • This looks wonderful Claire. Like you, I’ll take my broccoli with pasta aglio e olio, thank you very much! If I ever get a place with more space for a garden, broccoli will surely get a spot, no doubt about it.

  • Morning Claire .. oh, this looks absolutely delicious!! and how nice that they can’t be harvested by machines. A peaceful way to grow a nutritious crop. Ok, I’ll have to find some seeds and plant some of this broccoli.
    p.s. how do you put your name on the photos? I’d like to do that also.
    πŸ™‚ A.M.

    • Hi Anne Marie, and thanks. Re the photos, do you edit your photos at all – i.e crop and re-size them? If so there will be a feature in your picture editing software that allows you to add a test box (often you will see a symbol with a large letter), basically I created a word document with my name in a font and size I like then I copy it into the text box in the photo. It takes a bit of shuffling around and to be honest this probably isn’t the best way to do it, but it works ok and is simple!! Hope this helps

  • I’m so jealous of you gardeners!! At least I can share in your harvest virtually! I’d enjoy these as well with the pasta; that’s one of my favorite dishes. And your leftovers sound just as good!! Happy gardening Claire!

  • Purple broccoli! Now that’s something we haven’t tried yet, but we do have quite good luck with growing broccoli in general, although none of this year’s have yet formed heads. We’re trying to grow romanescu for the first time too! Enjoy your crop – it’s such an amazing treat to be able to eat produce that’s freshly harvested, especially when there are friends to share it with!

    • This is the sprouting kind it comes in either white or purple, and is different to the standard broccoli grown, But if you can grow standard broccoli then go for it! And I’ll look forward to hearing about the Romanescu, not something I’ve tried yet. I wonder if it is easier than cauliflowers – I’m not very successful with those…….

  • Nothing better than fresh veg from your own garden! You’re very lucky to have such a successful crop. Every bit of something green & edible that I plant goes to the birds, or bugs, or monkeys in my garden!

    • Monkey’s aren’t something I have to contend with here πŸ™‚ not sure how I’d manage if I did, it’s bad enough dealing with the usual pests without added “interest” !!

  • You are making me feel positively delinquent! I planted a section of onions and garlics and they are sprouting wonderfully, and today I put in peas, lettuces, spinach, radish, turnips. and beets. The weather here is too warm, and I hope it cools back down a bit, or all of my work will be for naught. But seriously, I am happy for your success!
    ~ Lynda

    • Bring on the delinquency I say!!
      The thought of peas, lettuce, radish – all the summer goodies. YUM. And thanks for the compliment Lynda, as I’m sure you know with gardening, not everything works out to plan!

  • After a post like this, you wonder how I could live vicariously through your blog? How could I not? Food and gardening and Alps — yummy! πŸ™‚

  • I’m so impressed you keep the broccoli going all year round! We have such an “easy” climate, but I have never considered trying! The purple is very special, and your recipes sound just wonderful. You inspire me to think about this…what might I do that I haven’t previously considered! Love it! Debra

    • That’s lovely Debra, thank you. This particular kind of broccoli is a cool season crop, and over-winters brilliantly for me, I’ve seen it under a foot of snow in previous years, and out it comes like magic in early Spring. It’s the first real taste of Spring for me. Claire

    • Hi Tandy, they are delicious to eat, and for me and easy crop to grow – they don’t need a lot of fuss and attention – always a bonus in the garden!

  • so tasty and full of goodness! we are still picking broccolini, so no down time for us this year, the new plants are almost ready to fruit …or they would have been if a few kangaroos did not get in and have a browse!

    • I must look out for broccolini, it sounds good. And tut tut to the naughty kanagroos! But I gues sthey just think, oh how nice someone has set up some lovely fresh shoots for us to eat!!

  • Yay–a gardening post! I have been waiting all winter for your wonderful gardening tips. Maybe by the end of this season you will have helped me turn from a “not very green thumb” gardener to a “fairly competent” gardener. I am definitely going to try the purple broccoli for over-wintering next yearll those pictures look SO good.

    • Nancy that is so kind, and it’s lovely to hear from you. I have to admit I’ve been longing to get back out into the garden, and get my hands into the soil and start working with nature again. And blimey that’s a challenge you’ve set me, but I’m sure you are a great gardener; there are many things I fail at, and I will be writing about those too – maybe sharing my failures I’ll get some good tips from you and other readers πŸ™‚
      The purple sprouting broccoli is stunning, very delicate in flavour, Claire

  • I just love that you can grow purple sprouting broccoli!! That is so awesome, pretty and I bet it tastes incredibly fresh prepared just how you’ve done it!

  • Way beauteous broccoli! Have never tasted straight from the ground, but I’m making an honest effort to imagine how fabulous that would be!

  • Traveling between France and home must be so nice. You get to visit with your friends, check on your garden and then take lovely goodies back with you.

    • I’ve been a bot lazy about taking things back with me, but my next trip is definitely one for Nougat, the French make wonderful Nougat, and several friends will be very happy I think to be able to snack on this sweet treat.

  • Exciting! I sowed some myself in early October, and here I was thinking ” early” would get me to harvest time before the heat set in for good. (84Β°F the last three days already…) Perhaps if I start some inside here early May to get a head start?

    • My goodness 84 that’s warm!! I don’t think I’d bother starting them indoors as seedlings as they don’t need massive warmth to germinate, I start mine outside in April / May, at considerably cooler temps and they’ve always done well (so far…..). I’ll be interested to see how your’s get on, we are having a warm spell at the moment (and no rain) but nowhere near your temperatures πŸ™‚

      • It is warm – it makes us concerned for the coming summer. Last summer was record-setting hot and dry. We’ll have to see.

        I was thinking I’d start them indoors in order to avoid the heat. We start hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit here in May, stay in the 90s most days when its not 100, and don’t regularly drop out of 90-100 until the end of September. Do you think that would work? Start indoors (to get the 75 degree AC temps) and then put out as seedlings at the start of October when it’s only in the 80s?

        • Ah, I see what you mean now about starting them indoors, that makes much more sense to me now! We’ve had some very dry years here too, and we have a hosepipe ban coming into force any day now as the reseviors are very low, it just means as a gardener I need to mulch, mulch, mulch!

  • Hi! Thanks for visiting me – Your purple sprouting looks absolutely fabulous and I am purpley green with friendly envy, I love the tip about hiding them under the beans too. Those pesky pigeons are so naughty, they ravaged my attempt at kohl rabi last year πŸ™‚

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad I found you too – all thanks to Brdget and her awards πŸ™‚ The tip about planting them with the beans really worked for the broccoli, but looking back my beans weren’t great last year, ok but not great. So I may plant some of the beans with no broccoli interplanted to see if there is any difference – it’s always a game of learning on the plot πŸ™‚ And I managed to forget to sow Kohl Rabi last year (along with parsnips) so they are firmly back on my list – I just hope they don’t get devoured

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