Posts Tagged ‘Growing Brussels Sprouts’

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Chickens don’t like Brussels Sprouts

November 19, 2010

The first of September, I planted a dozen or more Brussels sprout seedlings. Although it would be 90 days before harvest, I made room in the freezer for a sizable yield that would compliment many meals, hopefully for a few months. Every week the stocks grew a little taller and the foliage grew bigger and wider. But as it sometimes happens with farmers, this week I had to take a loss and pull every plant out of the earth.

Unable to check on the vegetable garden during the three weeks that I was sick, hundreds of aphids attacked my beautiful Brussels sprout plants. The Brussels had just started to develop, but the number of aphids was so severe it would have taken a chemical pesticide to get rid of them. The idea of growing my own vegetables is to avoid harmful chemicals. If caught early, I could have washed the aphids off with the water hose, pruned off the infected parts, or used an insecticidal soap.

Thinking my hens would love the Brussels sprout foliage and the aphids I filled up the wheelbarrow and dumped the half-grown plants in the chicken pasture. Little did I know that chickens don’t like aphids or Brussels sprout plants, at least my hens don’t.

Usually, when I take raw vegetable scraps to the chickens, they attack the greens as if they haven’t eaten for days. But this time, they just looked at the foliage, the aphids, the turned-up wheelbarrow, and at me. Some of the hens didn’t even stick around to try a tiny bite.

“What?” I shouted at the chickens, throwing my arms in the air. “You don’t like Brussels sprout plants? Don’t you know they’re good for you?”

Yes, I know, there’s something wrong with a person who scolds chickens for not eating their greens.

When I returned that evening to put the chickens to bed, the pile of Brussels sprout plants, even the aphids, remained untouched. At that moment, as I looked down disgusted at the leafy greens, I decided to stick with winter vegetables that aren’t susceptible to aphids, to grow crops that the hens will eat if I ever have to take another loss. Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre

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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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