Brussels sprouts

by Jane Moore

I really love Christmas - it's the only thing that cheers up winter for me (except snowdrops - they give me something to smile about in February).

Harvesting Brussels sproutsI really love Christmas - it's the only thing that cheers up winter for me (except snowdrops, which give me something to smile about in February). 'Bah humbug' is simply not in my vocabulary. And the kitschier and more traditional Christmas is the better, as far as I'm concerned.

I love playing Christmas games and having a proper tree and proper food - preferably from the plot. We're still working our way through the sacks of potatoes in the garage so it's going to be roasted 'Picasso' and boiled 'Charlotte' for our lunch. (I've still got a few Charlottes left in store and although it's a second early salad variety I find it keeps really rather well). I've also got plenty of garlic and onions still in store for the obligatory turkey curry!

But up on the plot, it's time for the pre-Christmas dinner harvest - only I've cocked up a bit this year! After growing the most gorgeous little button sprouts last year, it dawned on me in September that I hadn't grown any at all this season. I've brassicas aplenty - a couple of cabbages, red cabbage, kale and purple sprouting broccoli, but no sprouts. Paul stared at me aghast when I told him. "What! No sprouts for Christmas dinner?" I didn't even think he was that keen on them. "I'm not" he said, "but you have to have sprouts for Christmas lunch - it's traditional!"

Sprouts aside, we're doing well with red cabbage, green curly kale and some really lovely leeks. I think I'll braise the leeks in some butter like my Mum does them (I must phone her and get some tips). As for the sprout situation, well, I'm hoping Ron will come up trumps and offer me a few from his plot. After all, that's what good neighbours do!

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Gardeners' World Web User 01/01/2007 at 00:00

I love sprouts. They are my favourite veg. Xmas is not Xmas without them. My one problem is space. I have to cover all brassicas due to the plague proportions of cabbage white butterflys and other bugs that love them as much as me. Are there any "dwarf sprouts" in the pipeline, or at least some varieties that have much smaller leaves?

Gardeners' World Web User 28/12/2007 at 21:12

Me too, gaynorthegardener. I took over a neglected allotment in April. I did try sowing sprouts but they are still very small - about the size of a marble. Never mind, we had loads of beans and courgettes and cabbage and leeks and turnips. And the jungle gave us lots of blackberries. Next year we will have sprouts.

Gardeners' World Web User 03/01/2008 at 19:12

I planted 2 purple sprout plants from seed at Easter last year, and they grew 5' tall!! They were full of sprouts, but when I picked them all, trimmed them and blanched them, I had enough to feed 2 people!! AND, incidentally, I only learned AFTERWARDS that the purple colour would come out if I blanched them in salted water. My lovely mum informed me that I needed to put a splash of vinegar in the cooking water to stop this happening. I was left with a small bowl of grey sprouts... very appealing!

BUT, and here's the amazing thing, when I cooked them up on Christmas day, the purple colour returned as I put that special splash of vinegar in the pan...pure magic!! And, although there weren't enough to go around, they really did taste nice.

This year I will plant more than 2 plants, so that there is enough to share at Christmas. However, as I am now running an afterschool gardening club, I most probably won't get to see many of them for myself!! Still, maybe this will encourage more teenagers to eat them. Incidentally, I have been able to get my teenage nephews to eat them, but only if they are wrapped in bacon. Still, they ate about 15 each on Christmas day, so they had their vitamin C and roughage for the day!!

Gardeners' World Web User 31/01/2009 at 14:09

can anyone tell me why all my sprouts have "blown" on the stalks? last year the pidgeons ate the sprouts, this year i had a bad infestation of cabbage whites and caterpillers, is this connected in anyway

Gardeners' World Web User 08/02/2009 at 12:59

Im ben and im 13 i want to know if anyone has any advice on growing sprouts, im going to grow them this year.

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