Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brussels Sprouts Brouhaha

I'm not a huge Brussels Sprouts fan, but I have to admit that they are much better home grown. The Kitchen Goddess, on the other hand, loves them. Consequently I am now in the Brussels Sprouts doghouse, and here's why.

This year I decided to follow the method advocated by our own University of New Hampshire's
Ag School, in this article:

This was a complete departure from my normal method of starting and transplanting them at the
same time as the spring broccoli, and letting the plants grow until fall. They get huge. Here's a picture taken last October:

And this is what we harvested in early November (after periodically robbing the stems):

In a nutshell, the steps in the UNH article are:
  1. Start seeds indoors on June 18
  2. Transplant July 14
  3. Top the plants and remove lower leaves September 17 ("when the largest sprouts are 0.5 inches in diameter")
  4. Harvest on November 12
So I'm sure that topping keeps the plant from growing any taller. Depending on the variety
they grew, the "marketable stem length" varied from 20 cm (8 inches) to 27 cm (10.8 inches).
That's not very long, compared to the plants I grew in prior years. But their results look good.

I followed the first two time steps almost exactly. And here we are at the third time step where the plants are to be topped. But what's the point of topping 6 inch stems, with only vestigial sprouts?

UNH is only 25 miles away as the crow flies, so I don't think climate is much of a factor.
And I made sure the bed they are in was well-fertilized (at least at the beginning of the
season). It may be that the sun's position at this time of the year causes this section to only have partial-day sunshine. So perhaps it's not a fair comparison. But whatever, I'm pretty sure I'll go back to the old way of planting in spring and letting them get big in the summer.

And yes, I'm getting plenty of "I told you sos" from you-know-who.


  1. They are huge! Too bad the experiment didn't work this year, but hope next will be better.

  2. Too bad it didn't work. I always try something similar and it never works for me either. Maybe I should just give in and start them early. I hate a crop that takes all year to grow though.

  3. The thing about experimenting with a new method is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't - but we never know until try. The sprouts in the first photo are just amazing!