Purple sprouting smugness

Apparently (heard it on the radio – link here to the report) there’s a shortage of some winter vegetables in the supermarkets at the moment due to the harsh weather conditions we had in November and December last year. Farmers have lost a lot of their crops, though mainly cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli. Knowing how much they charge for a tiny punnet of PSB in Waitrose is a good enough reason for me to grow it, but now I feel even more smug that I have a good supply of it on my allotment.

Even better is the fact that it was a free packet of seed that I’ve been using for the past 3 years, so it really only costs me the price of a bit of compost to get them started, and a splash of seaweed feed when they start producing.

They did suffer a bit when the hard frosts struck us back in November, and as I didn’t get a chance to get down there to cover them up, I feared they’d be lost. But thankfully they survived okay, and have now bounced back. They are much later than normal (this is Extra Early Rudolph that normally crops from late November), a lot of the lower leaves have fallen off, and they’re not as tall as those I grew in the first year, but that’s okay as they’re less likely to topple over, and they have plenty of shoots on them which is the important bit.

I came back from the plot with this little lot today. The leaves are as tasty as the heads. This year I’m going to be growing a summer variety that supposedly is ready around June time. This is really unusual as PSB normally needs a long growing season, so whether these will crop this June or next I’m not sure! I’ve sown the seeds for them today, so we’ll see how they get on.

My cold frame is filling up already. Got some more broad beans sown, leeks, lettuce and sugar snap peas are all through, some hardy annuals are now germinating, and I have 3 sweet peas that survived from an autumn sowing. They look a bit straggly but have got good roots on them, so I’ve repotted them in the hope they’ll pick up. I have now sown some more. Also in the heated propagator are Brussel sprouts, the PSB mentioned above, and some peppers that will be grown indoors. And it’s still only February.


  1. these are a veg I should try and grow in the winter as we don’t get frost!
    Studying your pictures I note there is fine gravel on the pots. Are there seeds underneath or do you add the gravel when you transplant the seedling? Sorry may seem bit of an obvious question
    but why do you do this?
    PiP 8)


    • Hi PiP, you should definitely try growing this. Start them off in March or April and you’ll have crops through the winter months when not much else is growing. It’s not gravel that I put over my seeds but vermiculite. It’s very light and absorbent. I mix some of it into the soil that I sow the seeds in, and then sprinkle some over the top. The idea is that it absorbs any excess moisture and releases it to the seeds when they need it. It stops any mould growing over the surface of the soil, and helps avoid something called ‘damping off disease’ which seeds can suffer from. Also, if I’m sowing very fine seed, I don’t put any extra soil over them, just a layer of vermiculite, it allows the light through but keeps the seeds in place. It’s also like a mini duvet, keeping them warm and happy. It’s not absolutely necessary, but I’ve found that I have more success when I use this, and so have always stuck with it. I think everyone finds their own method through trial and error.


  2. Hi Thanks for explanation. I will see if I can buy this in Portugal 🙂

    If you start off in March April – it seems an awfully long gorwing period…I will have to see if they sell seed here 🙂 Will let you know how I get on 🙂


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