Thursday, November 8, 2012

Let's Talk Brussels Sprouts

I'll bet I sucked a whole bunch of you in with that titillating topic title, didn't I?

Both Papa Pea and I LOVE Brussels sprouts.  I've tried growing them without much success a couple of times previously.  This past gardening season, I gave them another try.

I have trouble (that's an understatement) with worms (shudder!) in my brassica.

So this year I followed the advice of the Agribon Queen, Sue over at Sue's Garden Journal, and planted my Brussels sprouts under a tent of Agribon. 


I also planted my broccoli under an Agribon cover and had wonderful success.  (It's good stuff!)


These days we're frequently enjoying fresh frozen Brussels sprouts as a nutritious, delicious green veggie with our meals.  But my harvest wasn't nearly enough to carry us over the winter months.

Matter of fact, even though I was able to grow them without any worm infestation (for the first time ever), I don't know if I will grow them again.

Why?  If the harvest from the seven plants I grew this year was indicative of the harvest I could expect to get per plant each year, I would have to devote a larger (much larger) part of the garden to Brussels sprouts.  The plants grew a good three feet tall and might have produced more heavily if I had given them a little more breathing room by spacing them out a little more.

When harvest time came, each little sprout had to be cut off the hefty stem with a sharp knife.  No quick task as the little buggers were stuck like glue and didn't relinquish their hold easily.  This proved to be a time consuming task for me.

Then (wormaphobe that I am) I soaked the whole harvest for a couple of hours in warm, salt water.  (Nary a worm to be found.  Phew, that was REALLY good news!)

Next I individually cleaned each one of the little miniature "cabbages."  Another stage in the process that took a long time.  Then I blanched them and packed them for the freezer.

I suppose when you get right down to it, it's a personal thing as far as the time, space and effort each of us is willing to give to a specific vegetable grown in our gardens.  For instance, I give a lot of garden space to rows of pea trellises on which to grow my shelling peas.  The picking of the mature pea pods goes rather quickly but sitting (for hours) and shelling the peas is an onerous task for some people.  But to get our winter's supply of fresh frozen peas, it's a task I don't mind.

Well.  I guess I'll be thinking over my little Brussels sprouts dilemma (to grow or not to grow, that is the question) this winter.  What do you think?  Will I grow them again next year? 

33 comments:

  1. I would only grow them if you liked them "enough". Enough would depend on your own preferences. I personally don't care for them boiled, but I like them well enough cut in half and pan seared cut side down in olive oil and garlic. Yum...

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    1. Jen - Thanks for a "new" way to prepare them!

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  2. I LOVE Brussels sprouts, but don't know if I would grown them because of the reasons you mentioned. I'm a lazy gardener and want the most veggie bang for my gardening buck. They DO look DEE-licious though! And how much fun is it to eat a bunch of mini-cabbages?!

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    1. CR - Wonder if you could grate raw ones for coleslaw? Naaaah.

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  3. I have the same struggle with a couple of different food items, not necessarily growing them. I made tamales one time with a bunch of friends. The good taste was not near the amount of work and time that went into them. Same with asparagus. I love fresh asparagus, but in Oregon, getting it to grow, and produce enough to make it worth my while is a problem. Hmmm, decisions in your future.

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    1. Ruth - Yep, I know exactly what you mean about the amount of time needed to prepare certain dishes. Is it worth it? Supposedly Helen Nearing refused to make any dish that took longer to prepare than to eat. Yowzer! That would sure put the kabosh on a lot of food, wouldn't it?

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  4. Don't grow them. They stink when you cook them and taste nasty. If I come see you (oops I mean when I come see you =} I would not like them. ;)

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    1. Lisa - Got a good belly laugh out of your comment! Methinks you have not experienced fresh-grown-in-your-own-garden Brussels sprouts, m'dear! They do not stink when you cook them and they are deli-ishous!

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  5. Nope, don't like brussels sprouts at all. My dad calls them martian brains! They do not agree with my digestion at all.
    But if you like them you go ahead and eat them all. My husband likes them and the only time he gets to eat them is during Thanksgiving and Christmas supper. Poor deprived guy.

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    1. Sparkless - Hee-hee! They were a very favorite vegetable of my EX son-in-law and I always made them at Thanksgiving and Christmas for him. But I only did it 'cause I liked them so much. :o/

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  6. I was just reading last night in Johnnys catalog about a variety that is shorter--yet is still supposed to put out 50-100 of those adorable buttons each.
    My problem this year (my first year growing) was they froze.......and turned BLACK. I thought they were supposed to enjoy frosts??
    I'm going to try them again next year--it's only one bed for me. And I will be raising up the hoops on that bed a bit. I grew the 3 footers and WOW-they were tall in there!!
    :)

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    1. Sue - Yes, I had always thought they got "sweeter" with cold weather . . . even frosts! And mine survived two frosts before I harvested them. (I still think your garden was just all-around mad at you because you left it this summer!)

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  7. I'd love to attempt it but I'm the only one that like them. Last year id didn't get one head of broccli or cali. before the worms feasted! However, I do like the sturdy look of thise hoop coversand need to look at those to extend the growing season

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    1. Katidids - But has the rest of your family ever had fresh grown ones? They really are much different than store bought frozen ones or even so called fresh ones that have traveled 2,000 miles across country in a crate.

      I find it sooooo hard to grow any of the brassicas without some protection from those dang egg laying/worm hatching little white butterflies! Ugh, I hate 'em.

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  8. You pulled me in with it, because I love them! I am the only one though, so maybe it would be worth it for me :) Curious to see what you decide.

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    1. Stephanie - Oh, do try them. You might make some converts in your family by serving them fresh from the garden!

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  9. By all means, grow Brussel Sprouts again!! In the past, I had trouble getting the sprouts to a decent size. Then another gardener taught me to lop off the top 8 to 10 inches of the BS plant around mid-August to produce larger and quality sprouts. Apparently it forces the plant to put all of its energy into the sides rather than into growing taller. It does seem to work. I also observed the same thing in deer-grazed Brussel Sprouts. The "chomped" plants grew bigger sprouts! But I still had to hire my sweet engineer to build a barrier to protect what was left of the plants. Oh what we all go through just to grow healthy organic food!-"M"

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    1. "M" - You are a treasure trove of gardening tips! I will definitely do that.

      Do you remember telling me that to grow big onions I need to remove the dirt from around the bulbs? I think of you every single year when I do that little task. And it's worth it 'cause I get some nice sized onions by doing it.

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    2. I would like some details on this removing dirt from around onion bulbs business. That's one I hadn't heard of until just now.

      I grew BS for the first time this year. Guess I should go out and harvest some tomorrow to see how they've turned out.

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    3. Hi, Larry - Re the onions . . . when the onion bulb starts to "crown" and show above the soil line, I take a finger and go round and round the bulb pulling soil away from the onion. This makes the onion stick up out of the soil more . . . and seems to give it more air to breathe in (I'm just making this up!) or something because the onions really seem to size up after being freed of the soil over and around them. It works for me anyway. Good luck!

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  10. I would grow them just because I like to have a little garden going in the winter, it keeps my garden mojo up!!!! I like brussel sprouts too, my kids, not so much!!!

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    1. Kelly - Well, if you can grow them in the winter, I'll bet you aren't bothered by that little white butterfly/moth, are you? Try melting cheese over the top of the Brussels sprouts to tempt your kids to taste them.

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  11. I have not grown them for the same reason - the space. However, I L.O.V.E. Brussels sprouts! Which is quite amazing, since I was a child of the late 50s when veggies were cooked to DEATH. And we all know what happens when you over-boil the BS. Luckily, I tried them again oven roasted and was hooked. I might try the shorter variety. And definitely under the Agribon! Your dinner looks delish, by the way...

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    1. Susan - IF I grow them next year (you know I will!), I think I'll still use some of the (tall variety) seeds I have left but will chop off the tops as "M" suggested above.

      That dinner was a ground beef patty with onion and cheese and a potato patty made with leftover mashed potatoes. My dad had to have meat and potatoes for every meal so my mom often made more mashed potatoes than she needed for one meal so she could make potato patties the next night.

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  12. We love them as well. Of course, we put stuff on them that makes them not as healthy as they could be (that means lots of butter & sometimes cheese). I am trying some in my fall garden, just ot see if they will grow at all. Will definitely keep an eye out for worms. Thanks for the tip.

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    1. DFW - Oh ya, gotten have them with melted butter! Remember our bodies NEED a certain amount of fat to utilize nutrients properly (that's why fat-free diets don't work!) and the very best fats are animal fats . . . and butter certainly qualifies for that!

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  13. I tried growing them, only because they are pretty and add interest to the garden LOL! I was overjoyed when they bolted and had worms since I didn't have to worry about actually eating them hahaha!

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  14. word verification LOL....." terrbPres"

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  15. Erin - I'm guessing your climate is too warm for Brussels sprouts as they do like to mature in cool (fall-ish) weather. They're like broccoli and like cool growing conditions, too. When you move back to the Land of the Frozen, you should try them again. With your expertise at pickling, I'm imagining they would make wonderful little appetizers made that way!

    P.S. Word verification: "terrbPres" Hmmm, what forces are at work in Blogger???!

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  16. Holy molly,to early in the morning for words like brassica,you trying to kill me ,hot tea down my throat--jk I know about Brussels spouts ,I fed them to Jerry all the time ,great for his pancreas,Yes he continues to do good,A few transfusions now and again and waiting to hear if they might change his chemo type,They seem to think something else might shrink the tumors more .I am fearful of change

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    1. judy - I still say it's your fantastic TLC that is so good for Jerry! (Brussels sprouts and all.)

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  17. we have never grown any and we love them...I always thought they were kinda hard to grow here in the south...great post!!

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    1. Kathryn - Since they do like cool weather, I wonder if you couldn't get a good crop from them by planting in late summer and harvesting during the winter?

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