TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

October 6, 2011

Broccoli reduces risk of prostrate cancer

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 10:14 pm


This week shops in the UK are introducing a new variety of broccoli, Beneforte, which reduces the risk of prostrate cancer in men.



It has long been known that glucoraphanin in broccoli lowers the rates of cancer. In 1983 a wild Italian broccoli variety was found to contain higher levels of glucoraphanin. The John Innes Centre in Norwich have bred this new variety, Beneforte, which contains two to three times the level of glucoraphanin than standard broccoli. 

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have worked with the Institute of Food Research to show that men who ate a broccoli-rich diet experienced changes in the activity of genes associated with tumour survival and growth.

Broccoli also lowers rates of heart disease and some other forms of cancer. It also boosts the body’s antioxidant enzyme levels.

Men who eat broccoli-rich diets have a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer – the most common non-skin cancer for males in western countries.

December 17, 2010

Recipe: Sprouts with Chestnuts

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 6:23 pm

This recipe for sprouts with chestnuts is perfect for Christmas, & will feed 8 – 10 people.

  • 1.5kg Brussels sprouts
  • 250g vacuum-packed chestnuts
  • 100g butter
  • nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper 


  • trim the sprouts
  • halve the chestnuts
  • add the sprouts to a pan of boiling, salted water & cook for 7 minutes
  • drain the sprouts
  • melt the butter in a pan
  • toss the chestnuts in the butter until they are warm, then add the drained sprouts
  • sprinkle with fresh nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste
  • stir the mixture so that the sprouts are well coated with butter
  • serve in a warm dish

This recipe for sprouts with chestnuts will encourage everyone to eat their sprouts!

October 17, 2010


Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 7:30 pm

The term Broccoli is a bit of a minefield and misunderstanding often occurs because supermarkets, seedsman and farmers use different names for the same thing.

Broccoli is Italian for little branches

  • Calabrese is the type of broccoli which has  the little branches as one large head.

This is sold in the supermarkets as broccoli but is known as Calabrese to the seedsmen



 Calabrese originally came from Calabria in Southern Italy.

  • Sprouting broccoli has lots of shoots instead of one big flower. 

If you ask a seedsman for broccoli he will probably give you sprouting broccoli, which is sold in supermarkets as purple (or white) sprouting broccoli. 

spear sprouting broccoli

spear sprouting broccoli

 Sprouting broccoli has a very short season in early spring.

August 3, 2010

Poor Cauliflower Season

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: — TopVeg @ 8:37 am

2010 has been a poor cauliflower season.  The cauliflowers have not grown well and the one in the photo below is only half the size it should be.



The cauliflower is past its best, but one always hopes they will get a bit bigger!  The curd is a poor colour and the insects have had their fair share.  Perhaps the cauliflower season has not been too bad for them!

July 18, 2010

How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 7:22 pm

Brussels Sprouts are a traditional winter vegetable and the plants can stay outside all winter. 

sprouts in snow

sprouts in snow

To grow Brussels Sprouts:

The Brussels Sprout plants prefer soil to be:

  • dug in autumn
  • firmed well down before the seedlings are transplanted
  • fertile – compost or well rotted farm yard manure can be mixed in when dug in autumn
  • not acid – add lime if necessary

Planting out seedlings:

  • plant so lowest leaves are just above surface
  • firm in well
  • leave about 60-80cm (2-2.5ft) between plants
  • water well after planting
  • cover with protective netting against insects & birds

Looking after Brussel Sprouts:

  • keep weeds down by hoeing regularly
  • keep birds off


  • watch out for cabbage whites and aphids


  • stake the plants if they are blowing in the wind


Harvest Brussels Sprouts:

  •  when the lowest buttons are the size of a walnut 




  • the top third of the stem are picked last
  • the sprout tops can be broken off & eaten as greens around Christmas time


How to Plant Brassica Seeds

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 4:31 pm

Seeds for leafy Brassicas are usually sown into a small patch known as a plant bed, and when the seedlings are strong enough, they are transplanted into their final position.  So growing leafy brassicas is a two stage process:

  1. raising the young plants from seeds in a bed
  2. transplanting the young plants, from their bed, out into their final growing position

Sometimes gardeners miss out the first stage and buy the young plants in.

Leafy brassicas include brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower & brocolli. Root brassicas, such as turnips and swedes, are not transplanted.  The seeds of root brassicas are usually sown on the site they will grow for their lifetime.

preparing-to-plant-seeds preparing-to-plant-seeds


  • It is most important to prepare a seed bed to give the best growing conditions for the seeds. 
  • Place markers in position at either end of the row, using a tape measure to give the correct row width.
  • Gently firm the soil down.
  • Use a walk-board, which is not resting on the soil, but supported at either end of the bed. Line the board up with the row markers.
  • Draw a seeding groove with a spade. Use the walking board to produce a straight line, & work carefully to get the correct depth.
making-seed-row making-seed-row 
creating-seed-row creating-seed-row 

Sowing Vegetable Seed

    * *only place a few seeds in the hand
    * *pinch a few seeds between finger and thumb and work them out
    * *try to get them dropping singly, not in a bunch
    * *take plenty of time, as it is worth the result
    * *make a mark in the row, before taking another pinch of seeds from the hand, as you loose sight of the last seed
    * *avoid sowing doubles

seed line seed line 

*Cover the seed with fine soil. Then put a few small cobbly bits on top & gently firm in. These lumps help to keep the soil open and prevent capping

*Water  the vegetable seeds in.

 Planting brassica seeds carefully will allow them to develop into good, strong plants.

May 18, 2010

Cauliflower consumption drops

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: — TopVeg @ 8:43 am

Cauliflower consumption has dropped by 50% according to a report on  BBC radio.

Rachel Green says that cauliflower can be used in many ways:

  • raw in salads
  • cooked in curries
  • cauliflower cheese
  • deep fried


The nutty flavoured white curd of cauliflower makes it an attractive addition to a plate, contrasting with  the green leaves, which are full of vitamins and minerals.

Cauliflower is a useful vegetable and it is interesting to hear that consumption has dropped.

May 4, 2010

3 Super Veg to Grow in the Garden

Filed under: brassicas, pea&beans — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:54 pm

These 3 super veg are extra healthy and very easy to grow in the garden!

Kidney beans

  • great source of protein, iron, and fibre – lowers cholesterol
  • low in sugar and saturated fat
  • low on the GI scale (glycemic index),  releasing energy slowly, helping to keep you fuller for longer.



  • High in antioxidants , & folic acid – prevents heart disease
  • Very low on the GI scale
  • Low in calories



  • Highly nutritious green vegetable
  • One cup contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin K and A, and most of manganese and folate your body needs
  • Low in calories
  • Contains many flavonoids – prevent cancer
  • Rich in magnesium – lowers blood pressure.


These 3 Super Veg can be sown now and will grow in the Garden over the summer.

April 6, 2010

End of Sprout Harvest

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 9:16 pm

The Brussel Sprout harvest has come to an end.  The sprouts on the stalk have started to blow, puff out, and will soon be producing flowers and shoots.



Pigeons have been eating the sprout leaves and making quite a mess of the plants.



We have been clearing away the winter vegetables, to make room for our new 2010 vegetables. 



The brussel sprouts have been pulled up and will be left on the compost heap to rot.



In the Channel Islands the sprout stalks are dried and turned into walking sticks. 

An antique, 32 inch long, walking stick made from a sprout stalk was sold on ebay in March 2010 for £75.

Now the end of the sprout harvest has come, the Brussel sprout plants have been pulled up to make way for lettuce and radish.

February 2, 2010

How to pick sprouting broccoli

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , , , , , — TopVeg @ 10:19 pm
Pick the sprouting broccoli spears:

  • just before the flower buds open 



  • about 10cm long


  • when young, so very tender & not stringy
early sprouting rudolph

early sprouting rudolph

  • leaving some stem on the plant, so that the buds will produce more spears – cut & come again!


The central head on the sprouting broccoli plant will be larger than the side shoots, but not as big as the standard broccoli sold in the shops. This is actually calabrese – quite different from sprouting broccoli harvested in the early spring.

Cut the large central head  out before the flower buds open, when still tender. Cutting out the central head will encourage the side shoots to develop.



Pick sprouting broccoli every few days to make sure the shoots are young and tender.  It is often difficult to see the sprouts in amongst the leaves, particularly the purple sprouts, but white sprouting broccoli is easier to see and pick!

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