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Bragging on Brussels Sprouts

October 4, 2010

It’s hard to believe that these squatty plants will grow into a tall stock* of little green balls that children—and many adults—would rather use in a game of dodge ball then eat. There’s nothing sweet about Brussels sprouts, but they are nutritious. 

The first time I served Brussels sprouts to my family, no one ate them. The second time, I smothered them in a creamy, cheese sauce. Unimpressed, my two young sons rolled Brussels sprouts around their plate like a game of hockey. It was several years later (after the boys left the coop) that I reintroduced Brussels sprouts to my husband. As I learned to prepare them different ways (pan and oven roasted are a favorite), Brussels sprouts have become a regular vegetable at our dinner table. Now, I’m growing them. Why not? Brussels sprouts are easy to freeze, and unlike frozen string beans, they maintain their fresh flavor.

Growing Tips:

  • Plant mid or late summer in full sun in fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Before planting work in 2-4 inches organic compost matter and all-purpose fertilizer.**
  • Plant 12-18 inches apart and 24-30 inches between rows.
  • Place transplants deep in the soil like you would a tomato plant.
  • Water deep (from the bottom, not overhead) and infrequent.
  • Don’t fertilize during sprout growth which can cause loose, soft sprouts, and splitting.

Watch for:

  • Aphids and ants
  • Cabbageworms and loopers

Harvest Tips:

Pick sprouts about 1-inch in diameter from the bottom up as they mature.

Nutrition:

  • High in vitamin C, iron, calcium, and fiber
  • Low in calories and carbohydrates
  • Zero saturated and trans fat

*The Brussels sprout stock in above photo was purchased at Trader Joe’s. The “squatty plants” are in my garden.

**Gardner & Bloome has a “Natural and Organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer.”

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4 comments

  1. Thanks Dianne, I gonna’ go get me some! But how do you control cabbage worms?
    I saw the whole stalks of brussel sprouts at Traders Joe’s. That was the first time I’ve ever seen them!

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    • The best and non-chemical method is handpicking. Not a favorite pastime, I know. Keep an eye out for white to yellowish butterflies with four black spots on the upper area of the wings. The butterfly’s eggs are pale yellow to orange, shaped like a football standing on end. Usually, the eggs hatch a few days after the butterflies are spotted. Cabbageworms don’t move very far. They love new tender growth. (Usually you won’t see them on old growth.) Look for holes, then check the undersides of leaves and start picking. Cabbageworms are small. A magnifying glass is helpful. You might find some organic products on the market. I hope this helps.

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  2. Most people don’t care for brussel sprouts, but they are good & healthy too. Being on weight watchers, I steam my brussel sprouts first, then lightly sautee them in a bit of butter, a swish of sugar free maple syrup and sometimes add some slivered almonds. Yummy & healthy too. Bernadine

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