The difference between Calabrese and Broccoli can be difficult to determine. For gardeners and growers Broccoli is an over-wintering vegetable, whereas Calabrese will provide a crop during the same season it is sown. Calabrese has a milder flavour, and it will also, even provide a second crop of sprouting Calabrese all before the winter.
Calabrese is part of the brassica family and from a growing point of view should be treated as such.
Calabrese does not like its roots to be disturbed and so the best way to sow it from seed, is to sow in modular trays or pots first from early spring, until June-July when they can be transported into their final growing position.
Prepare the soil with compost in a sunny and sheltered position, in well-drained soil. Plant the Calabrese plants approximately 50cm apart, depending on the variety and protect as you would other brassicas in a cage or covered with netting.
Keep weed-free and watered during dry spells. Watch out for the usual brassica-associated pests and diseases.
Most varieties of Calabrese will give you two crops from one plant. First the central dome will form. Harvest this before the beads begin to loosen. The plant will then produce small side shoots that can also be harvested for a second crop of Calabrese spears.
Calabrese is best cooked by steaming it rather than boiling it to retain the flavour and texture. It is also enjoyed widely in stir frys.