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Another Reason to go to the Farmers Market

March 22nd, 2012

I’m a big advocate of shopping locally, mainly because it’s good for both you and the local community. Even though I have a fairly large edible garden I still head to the local market a few times a month throughout the year. Besides purchasing eggs, cheese and milk there, I also wander the stands in search of new kinds of vegetables to try or to grow in my garden. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the local farmers are branching out to sustain a year-round market, you might find yourself with a whole new world of vegetables to try to grow in your own garden.

Take this sprouting broccoli for example. I’ve tried growing it in my garden before, but I had a hard time finding specific cultivation information and thus was not successful in getting it produce. I was reading Tender“>’Tender’ by Nigel Slater the other evening and discovered how it needed to be cultivated in order to produce. I spent some time searching the internet for a few varieties that would survive my zone 5 winter and came across West Coast Seeds who sells a nice variety of sprouting broccoli. Essentially, you start sprouting broccoli in late summer and allow it to overwinter. In spring, around this time, it will start producing shoots of broccoli, not one large head, but small side sprouts.

Wouldn’t you know it, I went to Local Roots in Wooster, OH last week and one of the farmers was selling sprouting broccoli! You know I’m going to order some seeds for a few different varieties and I’ll be starting them in late summer to overwinter. There’s nothing I would love more than to be harvesting broccoli from my own garden right now – and I know for sure that it can be done in my area thanks to my friendly local farmer.

Have you ever heard of sprouting broccoli or grown it in your garden?

I cannot recommend this book more, it’s part gardening manual, part cookbook it really is quite a bargain for around $25. Nigel recommends specific varieties of vegetables to grow and cultivation information. The recipes are usually simple and any that I have tried are outstanding. After checking it out of the library several time I finally have a copy on my bookshelf.

17 Comments to “Another Reason to go to the Farmers Market”
  1. Mich on March 22, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I love Nigel Slater have you read Tender vol 2 – fruit garden? Yes I grow purple sprouting it is great especially at this time of the year.. It does take a bit of protecting here from caterpillars, pigeons but well worth it.

    Reply to Mich's comment

    • Susy on March 22, 2012 at 7:35 am

      I haven’t read his fruit book yet, I don’t think our library has a copy yet.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Kathi Cook on March 22, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I may have to try sprouting broccoli. The regular type of broccoli that I buy as very small seedlings always does fantastic here in Ct. Once I cut the main heads I get side shoots for a long time afterwards. Do these plants require any kind of row covers or protection? Is the taste similar?

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

    • Susy on March 22, 2012 at 7:37 am

      The taste is the same as regular broccoli, though the heads are a bit looser than broccoli. I don’t believe that the hardier varieties need protecting, at least that’s what my current research suggests. I’m hoping to try 3 or 4 different varieties this coming fall/winter. The variety I tried previously wasn’t really hardy enough to overwinter here in my garden.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Mich on March 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm

        Some night temps of -12c here this winter and my purple sprouting was fine; its a tough plant.
        Its foes are pigeons and in the Uk the Cabbage White butterfly…as the name suggests it uses the brassica group to lay its eggs.

        to Mich's comment

  3. Little Homestead in the Village on March 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the info. I have sprouting Broccoli seeds. This is my first time planting them. I am also zone 5 in Central NY.

    Reply to Little Homestead in the Village's comment

  4. S on March 22, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I love using the farmer’s market for research–not that I’m also not shopping, ha! You can see what varieties are prolific and easy to grow for market farmers in your area–hey, those might be good at home too (duh!). Now that I have the hoop house, I watch at the winter’s market for what people are offering, and it gives me an idea on what I can overwinter, and when I need to plant to have things to size at the right time.

    Reply to S's comment

  5. Lori on March 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Do you think Tender would work well on a Kindle, in terms of the content layout? I really want to get it, but I’m not sure I’d want to carry around such a large item if it’s more of a memoir/essay collection! But then I know many gardening books work best as reference manuals that you page through. If Tender is like that, I’d rather have paper.
    What do you think?

    Reply to Lori's comment

    • Susy on March 22, 2012 at 9:51 am

      I don’t have a Kindle and I’m not much of a virtual book person (I love the tactile nature of reading a book). I’m guessing book would be best in paper form, it is a HUGE book. Though it is really great for reading bits here and there on when you have a few spare moments, which might make it valuable for your Kindle if you carry it with you to make use of those bits of time throughout your day.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Brittany P. on March 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I also just love a real paper book. I can’t stand to do a lot of reading while looking at a screen. I think all of Slater’s books are on my wish list! Something else I love about shopping local at small nurserys, farmers markets, stores, etc. is that the people there actually have a knowledge of what they are selling. Try going to Walmart and asking questions about products or plants… LOL! A 18 year old employee will look at you like you are a martian, mouth hung open, and speechless.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  7. igardendaily on March 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Very cool Susy! I love to grow regular Broccoli and have had lots of success with it. However, I was not familiar with sprouting broccoli. I’m always looking for things I could plant in the fall and have grow during winter (this year I did garlic and it’s already coming up ;)) and then harvest in early spring. This sounds like a great thing to try. Will have to try WCS.

    Reply to igardendaily's comment

  8. KimH on March 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I dont guess I’ve ever grown spouting broccoli… So is it the same thing as broccolini or brocolette? I love them… just a bit of bitter to them, but yum! M’honey doest care for it, so that means I get to eat it all! ;)

    I’ll have to look into it.. Now you’ve got me wondering. ;)

    I’ve always done the same thing as Kathi Cook.. I’ve always eaten the side shoots that continue to grow on regular broccoli’s stalks.

    I think broccoli is the other most favorite veggie I couldnt live without along with squash.

    Reply to KimH's comment

    • Susy on March 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      I know what you mean, I’ve purchased broccolini before that was so bitter none of us could eat it (and I don’t mind bitter).

      Wikipedia says sprouting broccoli is a variety of broccoli with a large number of small meads while broccolini is a hybrid cross between broccoli and Chinese kai-lan. I’m guessing broccolini must be like brussels sprouts or kale in that they would sweeten nicely after a frost and thus be less bitter. Perhaps that’s why sprouting broccoli isn’t bitter since it spends the winter in the garden sweetening up.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimH on March 22, 2012 at 10:24 pm

        Awesome.. thanks for looking that up & sharing it.. I just now at 10pm got home.. and have to get up in 7 hours.. no rest for the wicked I guess. ;)

        to KimH's comment

  9. Tee on March 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Whoa… Of course I have grown regular broccoli but never like you said.
    Hmm…. Sounds like a fun experiment.

    Reply to Tee's comment

  10. elaine on March 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I grow quite a few different types of broccoli every year – the Calabrese which after the central head has been cut off produces tenderstem spears over quite a few weeks – these you grow over the summer. The purple sprouting broc (which my fellow bloggers and I call PSB) is started in April (it needs a long growing season) and harvested the following year during what we call ‘the hungry gap’ when there isn’t anything else in the garden to eat. I have all Nigels’ books and love his Simple Suppers tv programme.

    Reply to elaine's comment

    • Susy on March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks for the tip on starting it early. I tried a purple sprouting variety two different years. One year it was started early one it was started late, both times it failed to survive the winter so it wasn’t as hardy as it needs to be for my zone. Definitely will be trying a hardier variety, or a few, this coming winter.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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