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Entries in broccoli (3)


On the Allotment

Although my allotment digging is still behind schedule I always get excited about the new season ahead. A few bright days and some dry weather mean that I usually manage to catch up with digging through February and begin to sow some early crops such as Broad Beans in good time.

Some of my fellow allotment holders sow broad beans in autumn, but I wait until early March because I don’t like the plants sitting in cold, wet soil through the winter. My early spring sowings all but catch up with the autumn ones as long as the mice leave them alone!

This week I have been to my local garden centre to peruse their selection of seed potatoes. Last year, by storing our second earlies ‘Estima’ and main crop ‘Sarpo Mira’ the crop lasted us until Christmas. As well as these two later varieties, I also grew ‘Arran Pilot’ and ‘International Kidney’ (also known as ‘Jersey Royals’) as earlies, which we used from the ground as required. I have plenty of room again this year and although cheap to buy in the shops, potatoes are a low maintenance crop once they are planted and not fussy about soil. They always seem to taste so much better dug straight from the ground!  I will return to buy my potato ‘seed’ as soon as I have made my decision on varieties, before the popular ones sell out!

My next job is to start saving egg boxes so that the seed potatoes can be put into them for ‘chitting’ at the end of February.

Cavalo Nero plantsI have planned my crop rotation for the coming year and have made a cropping plan, which I first did last year. Having a record of what was planted and when has been very useful to look back on and hopefully rectify any failures! I must learn to be more patient in the spring once the ground is dug over and wait for the soil to warm up before I sow lots of seed. Sowing too early can be an expensive mistake and very demoralising when the germination is poor or non -existent!

As well as planning for this seasons bumper crops, we are still using vegetables that were planted last year, including Purple Sprouting broccoli, which will crop from now until May if the spears are cut regularly. The parsnips, which were so promising early on, are suffering with canker; I think due to the wet, cold soil so I will make it a matter of urgency to lift these now and freeze the surplus. Mrs McGregor cuts them into batons and blanches them before coating them in flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs.  They are great with any main meal roasted straight from the freezer! My leeks, although small, have been very tasty and there are still plenty for use as we need them, along with the last of the sprouts and my Black Kale (Cavolo Nero) which I will certainly grow again for its sweet flavour!

Happy Gardening!

Mr McGregor 


Growing Calabrese and Garlic

Growing Broccoli and GarlicIf you want to start growing some crops in your vegetable patch, January is the time to start growing garlic and calabrese. Over January through to June you can grow your calabrese, the close cousin of broccoli. However, there are certain time slots when you can plant your garlic bulbs; January through to February and October through to December.

How to grow Calabrese

1.       Plant brocoli seeds approximately 65-75cm apart, burying stretched stems.

2.       Gently firm the soil around the roots well with your fingers and water well. Continue to water well especially in dry spells.

3.       Calabrese may become top heavy, especially in exposed areas, so staking each plant is essential and earth up around the base. 

4.       Remove weeds as they appear to prevent them competing with the plants. Removing the weeds can also prevent diseases and the encouragement of pests. However, once the plant is established in your plot pests will become less of a problem.

How to grow Garlic

1.       Plant approximately 2.5cm-5cm deep and 15cm apart.

2.       If you soil is heavy clay and in time gets waterlogged, wait until February to plant your bulbs or alternatively add horticultural sand.

3.       In spring add a nitrogen feed to encourage growth.

4.       Garlic likes plenty of water during the growing period, but reduce the amount of watering from about May.

Happy growing



Veg Of The Month

The Veg of the Month this time has to go to the Broccoli. It is the ultimate winter crop and always goes down well at meal times. Well at least in does in the McGregor household. What is even better is the fact that broccoli is go good for you, but keep that quiet the kids don’t know that just yet. Broccoli contains Vitamins C, K and A and generates roughly 10% of your daily protein and calcium.

How to grow Broccoli

1. Plant approximately 65-75cm apart

2. Burying any stretched stems and gently firming the soil around the roots well with your fingers.

3. Water well and continue to maintain watering in dry spells.

4. Stake each plant

5. On exposed sites, broccoli is likely to become top heavy, so stake each plant with a strong cane if necessary and earth up around the base. Remember to firm with the heel to prevent root damage that can be caused by wind rock.

6. Remove weeds as they appear with hand trowel.

7. This prevents weeds competing with the broccoli plants, which can also cause diseases and encourage pests. Pests will become less of a problem once the plant is established in your plot.


Top tips

A must try recipe

If you are a fan of French cuisine, then you will love this Broccoli Quiche. It takes 40 minutes to cook, but is well worth the wait. Serves 6.


1 round unsweetened pie crust                                                  2 cups small broccoli florets

1 onion, peeled and chopped                                                     1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup shredded cheese                                                              4 eggs

11/2 cups crème fraîche                                                             pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper



1. I have always preferred to cheat when it comes to pastry and crusts. So if you like the pre-made pastry crusts, place in a tart pan and prick the base about 20 times with a fork.  Otherwise make your own pastry using this pastry recipe from Delia.

2. Place the crust in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6).

3. Remove the crust from the freezer and place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Cool for a further 10 minutes and turn down the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5).

4. Steam the broccoli in the microwave (helps lock in the flavour) for about 3 minutes

5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Cook until soft.

6. Evenly spread the broccoli and onions on the crust and sprinkle the cheese over the top.

7. In a bowl whisk the rest of the ingredients together until blended and pour over the vegetables in the crust.

8. Oven bake for 40 minutes.


Mr McGregor