episode 8 | show notes & advice
If you’re looking to create a swathe of spring-flowering bulbs naturalised in your garden and to reflect that display in a vase in your home, then narcissi are a wonderful inclusion. While some varieties fit the description of ‘rubber duck yellow’, those with rich colour, rousing scent and good vase life earn the respect of Sarah and Arthur.
For this week’s edible veg, we hear about purple sprouting broccoli, a nutrient-rich food which is incredibly productive at this time of year when there is little else to be harvested. Hear how Sarah includes purple sprouting broccoli in a lovely pasta dish, and Arthur’s advice on complementing your crop with aesthetically pleasing, round structures.
in this episode, discover...
- How to naturalise your garden with an abundance of narcissi
- Sarah and Arthur’s ideal narcissus selection
- Growing a generous crop of purple sprouting broccoli
- Pairing purple sprouting broccoli with pasta, for a delicious dish
links and references
Scented narcissi and purple sprouting broccoli
The first trial Sarah ever did at Perch Hill, over 20 years ago, was inspired by a trip to the Scillies. It was of multi-headed, multi-stemmed and highly scented narcissus – all with a good vase life.
Gives a succession from February to early May
‘Silver Chimes’ Narcissus poeticus var. recurves If you want to extend the flowering season on into the year – add Dutch iris (and alliums). Then come the dahlias – in all their shapes and forms. Plant them all in a bulb lasagne with narcissus down deepest at 15cm (6in), up to dahlias just below the soil surface.
Arthur also loves our native daffodil Narcissus psuedonarcissus, which you see in the wild in huge drifts through orchards, for example, in Gloucestershire.
- Jan – Narcissus foliage starts to emerge and in early years we can pick the odd stem of Narcissus ‘Avalanche’
- Feb – Narcissus ‘Avalanche’ (usually)
- March – Narcissus ‘Avalanche’, N. ‘Geranium’ PLUS hyacinths
- April – Narcissus ‘Silver Chimes’, N. ‘Actea’ and N. ‘Geranium’ PLUS hyacinths
- May – Narcissus poeticus var. recurvusand N. ‘Rose of May’ PLUS Dutch iris and Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
- June – Dutch iris and first Dahlia ‘Gerrie Hoek’ and Allium cristophii
- July – All the dahlias and Allium sphaerocephalon
- August – All the dahlias, plus gladioli
- September – All the dahlias, plus gladioli
- Oct – All the dahlias
- Nov – The dahlias have mostly finished but we still have a few until we cut them back
- Dec – Cut down and mulch the beds for winter
Purple sprouting broccoli
Perfect hungry-gap crop – which (depending on variety) you can pick from February until May. Do need a brassica cage to keep cabbage whitefly off it. Sarah’s favourite recipe for purple sprouting broccoli is with pasta
Purple sprouting broccoli pasta
This is my favourite way to eat purple sprouting broccoli
- 1 tin of anchovies in olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped (depending on how garlicky you like things)
- 1 red chilli, chopped or pinch of dried chopped chilli
- 350g penne or farfalle
- 400g purple sprouting broccoli or calabrese
- Slurp of olive oil
- Black pepper
- Juice and zest on 1 lemon
- Lots of grated Parmesan cheese
- Pour the tin of anchovies with its oil into a frying pan over a gentle heat. The anchovies will gradually dissolve in the oil, in 2–3 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli and fry gently for another minute or two. Be careful not to let the garlic brown. Take the pan off the heat.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
- Trim the purple sprouting broccoli, retaining much of the stem as well as the heads. If the stems are tough, pare off the outer layer (with a peeler or sharp knife) and then cut the stems into chunks. If using calabrese, separate the heads into small florets, breaking them off the main stem.
- Steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Meanwhile start to heat a griddle over a flame.
- Once cooked, divide the steamed broccoli into halves.
- When the griddle is hot, place half of the stems onto it.
- Puree, or roughly chop, the other half together with the anchovy/garlic/chilli mixed with a slurp of olive oil, lemon juice and zest and black pepper to taste. Stir this into the pasta.
- Keep turning the broccoli on the griddle and then add that over the top of the pasta too. Stir carefully and heat it all through.
- Add lots of Parmesan and serve.