Brussels sprouts – it's the vegetable of childhood nightmares, the mere mention of which is enough to make some adults react with pure horror while others light up with enthusiasm. Originally called "Borecole" they have been enjoyed (or otherwise) at the dinner table since at least the 14th century when they were grown in Belguim - hence the name Brussels. A member of the brassica family and extremely nutritious, they are high in vitamin K, C and A.
Growing heirloom and open pollinated vegetable seedlings and herbs for the locals farmers market I like to be able to give good growing advice. Sucessful Brussels sprout growing had eluded me until finally this season the alien forms of six Brussels sprout plants, all laden with their minature cabbage-like fruit stand tall in the garden. Living in South Canterbury I started the seedlings indoors in late July and planted them out in late September. Brussels sprouts require a long growing season so planting in spring ensures a crop the following winter. To the soil, I added a little old well rotted sheep manure (they don't like excess nitrogen). I chose Long Island Improved, an heirloom variety from the 1890's and as they grew I pulled off each leaf allowing the plants energy to go into sprout formation. Their taste improves after a frost as the cold encourages them to produce sugars making them sweeter. They taste great with a distinctly buttery flavour. So good in fact my husband has gone from a hater to a lover!
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