About Purple Sprouting Broccoli: Though this extremely cold hardy Purple Sprouting broccoli was bred in England, the plant from which modern broccoli is derived first grew in the wild in the Mediterranean region and in Asia Minor. The Italians appreciated it so much that it got the name "Italian asparagus." Broccoli gradually spread to the rest of Europe and to the New World, where Thomas Jefferson included this strange new vegetable in his experimental garden.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli Germination: Broccoli grows best in cool weather, so starting the seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before the last expected frost will ensure a faster crop. Shortly after the last frost, prepare the ground with organic matter or fertilizer; when the seedlings reach about 6" tall, plant them 1-2' apart in rows 2-3' apart. For direct sowing seeds, plant them 1/2" deep and 12" apart in full sun and rich soil, after the last expected spring frost; thin them to 3' apart. Keep the soil moist. For companion planting benefits, plant broccoli with herbs, potatoes, or onions; avoid planting it with tomatoes or pole beans.
Growing Purple Sprouting Broccoli Seeds: Keep the young plants watered and remove weeds carefully. Mulch helps discourage weeds and regulate soil temperature, and several applications of fertilizer or compost will also be needed.
Harvesting Purple Sprouting Broccoli: The first small heads of broccoli should be ready to harvest in early spring, about 220 days after planting. Harvest them while they are still tight, and before the tiny buds begin to open; cut them with the stems attached, since these are also edible. Side shoots will continue to develop along the stem, and can be harvested as well; the plant will keep producing as long as weather conditions are favorable.
Saving Purple Sprouting Broccoli Seeds: Allowing broccoli to produce seed will take an entire growing season, and may require digging up the plants for the winter or mulching them well. Broccoli will cross pollinate with other members of the cabbage family such as cauliflower, and isolation of at least 1/4 a mile is recommended to prevent cross breeding. Once the flowers have bloomed and produced seed pods, let them dry and carefully remove them from the plant. Separate the seeds from the pods. Store in a dry, cool place for up to five years.
Detailed Purple Sprouting Broccoli Info: Brassica oleracea. Annual. 60 days. 10700 seeds an oz. 18-36" height. 24-30" spacing. These purple heads grow fairly small and turn green when cooked.