Calabrese - a useful vegetable to grow




My mum moved into my downstairs flat in April and since then has been taking over the garden, planting vegetables, a couple of fruit trees and huge amounts of flowers. I enjoy gardening but have not planted on the scale my mum has reached. Plants are everywhere!

Last month I started picking leaves for cooking either in a stew or wilted as a side portion from Calabrese, a broccoli type plant. The difference between Calabrese and Broccoli is that Broccoli is an over-wintered crop and Calabrese are harvested before winter so we should be eating the broccoli heads in autumn. This is a very useful veggie to grow for its long supply period. The leaves are thinner than cabbage and they have a lighter taste. The plant grows quickly and quite large so its easy to harvest a couple of leaves from each plant regularly until the broccoli heads are ready. The leaves are a great source of vitamins A, C and B6, Selenium, Calcium, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese - all essential vitamins and trace minerals our bodies need to prevent cell damage, regulate blood flow and fluid balance and aid nerve function. Eating these or similar leaves as part of your diet can maintain or improve your general wellness.

We have had to keep the slugs off and now Cabbage White caterpillars, ( Yesterday I removed the affected leaves and placed them away from the plants in a pile so the caterpillars will survive. I'm afraid the slugs drowned in lager) but we have a very healthy crop. 12 plants have produced more leaves than we can eat, starting from seed trays to pots indoors to being planted in the veg bed after they were hardened off outside at 5-6 cms high. Rocket was planted in between each plant to make good use of the space and keep us in salad leaves.

I am very lucky to have a garden but even if you have a small private outdoor area, start them off in pots in Spring and when large enough, plant outside in a sunny area in a part full compost bag, or other plastic bag with compost in and a few drainage holes on the underside of the bag. Keep them well watered and you will be harvesting leaves from them by June and the broccoli heads in Autumn.


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