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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Broccoli ‘Rioja’: New from Plants of Distinction

Posted by Graham Rice on 20 Dec 2011 at 04:33 PM

Sprouting broccoli 'Rioja'- a new multiseason variety. Image © Elsoms SeedsSprouting broccoli is not a crop that excites every vegetable gardener but, as with so many traditional vegetables, new developments have made sprouting broccoli much more appealing to the home veg grower.

‘Rioja’ is a new bred-in-Britain, purple sprouting broccoli which is more flexible in its cropping season, an ideal feature for home gardeners who can make two or three sowings from one packet of seed for crops at different seasons.

Keeley Watson of Elsoms Seeds in Lincolnshire, who developed this variety, told me: “Rioja could be planted at the same time as ‘traditional’ purple sprouting broccoli, in July and August, and it will produce spears in late February and March. It can also produce spears in October and November from earlier plantings but the spears are not of such a high quality.”

Another valuable feature of ‘Rioja’ is that its spears are noticeably outward facing which made them especially easy to pick and they also snapped off easily. The plants are also less tall, at about 28in/70cm, so are more manageable in the garden and less likely to fall over under the weight of snow, but their early vigour is just right for cropping so soon after winter.

By the way, broccoli not only contains more Vitamin C than oranges, but is also a significant source of glucosinolates, compounds which help liver function and are also said to have anti-cancer properties.

Seed of sprouting broccoli ‘Rioja’ is available from Plants of Distinction.

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