As promised in the recent entry on browsing heirloom seed catalogs I intend to share some of the interesting plants that I stumble across in my favorite seed catalogs.
Here’s the first new and unusual vegetable variety that I plan to grow in the garden this year; Purple Peacock Broccoli.
Planting Purple Peacock Broccoli
I first sighted this unusual broccoli about a year ago and wanted to plant it immediately but discovered that the seed growers had suffered a crop failure and there just weren’t any seeds available. It’s now back in stock and I’ve seen it listed by a couple of specialty seed suppliers.
I don’t know if this colorful broccoli strain prefers spring or fall plantings, so I’ll try growing it during both seasons and plan to get a few seeds planted under grow lights this weekend. After growing them about four to six weeks indoors the weather should be suitable to harden off and get them transplanted out into the open garden in mid-April.
Ornamental Color in the Garden and Kitchen
What’s so exciting about this rare broccoli variety? Well to start with there’s the unusual color; a purple hued broccoli! You don’t see that every day. And the coloration isn’t limited to the florets, the stems and leaves of the plant also share a touch of the same reddish-purple blush.
Purple Peacock Broccoli is guaranteed to stand out in the garden as well as the in the kitchen. Sure, much of the color is likely to be washed out during cooking, but broccoli is well suited to being prepared and eaten in its raw state, or very briefly steamed to preserve more of the color, especially if it is home grown, picked young, and enjoyed fresh from the garden.
And who knows what additional or unidentified nutrients and vitamins are associated with the unusual color, delivering health benefits beyond what we receive when eating the standard green broccoli varieties.
Three Culinary Treats from One Plant
Not overwhelmed by the color and ornamental possibilities of Purple Peacock Broccoli? Well maybe you’ll be impressed by the plant’s incredible versatility. The young leaves are tender and can be treated as a leafy green and be used as a salad ingredient, while the mature leaves can be prepared and cooked just as you would flavorful kale or collard greens.
Then of course the plant will produce the typical broccoli heads and florets, followed by large quantities of smaller but just as edible side shoots. How’s that for getting your money’s worth out of this versatile and ornamental edible: fresh salads, nutritious greens, and a colorful vegetable entree, all from one plant.
This cultivar is the product of a cross between Green Goliath broccoli and two varieties of kale. I’ll follow up with photos later this season and also provide feedback on how Purple Peacock Broccoli performs in my garden and whether or not I notice any difference from a spring verses a fall planting.
Next up I’ll share the tough decision I made in selecting the fingerling potato variety that will grow in my raised beds this summer. This entry has been submitted as part of the Weekend Herb Blogging Event for the week of March 11, 2007.
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