Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Brussels Sprouts Harvest & Update

Let's talk about our Brussels sprouts plant! A couple weekends ago I was finally able to harvest the plant we've been growing since mid March. You might recall how little they were back then:

We'd actually planted 2 starter plants in the front urn planters. One withered and died within 2 weeks, while the other grew and thrived through the spring, summer and autumn months. We got more questions this summer from people walking down the sidewalk and wanting to know exactly what we were growing:

The photo above shows the plant during the first week of November, ready to harvest. You can see how the leaves are still hardy and how the brussels really filled in along the stalk:

To harvest, I started trimming the leaves from the base of the stalk upwards:

It was a really nice, sunny fall day for this project:

You can really start to see all the little bumpy Brussels sprouts along the stalk once the leaves are trimmed:

This is what we were left with (who says you can't grow vegetables in an urban environment?):

It looks a little strange, right? Sometimes you see trimmed stalks like these for sale at farmers markets or in grocery stores like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market or your local specialty market. You can actually cook with the whole stalk for a pretty conversation piece, or just slice off the sprouts you need to cook with for smaller meals.

Here's what the root system looked like after we pulled the stalk up from the planter:

At this point, we could have trimmed the top and bottom of the stalk and stored it in the refrigerator or cellar for later use. Instead, we were eager to taste the rewards of our harvest, so I individually snipped each of the little brussels from the stalk then scrubbed and washed them well:

We ended up halving them and tossing in little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper before spreading out on a sheet pan to roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. We paired them with some homemade mashed potatoes and a pork chop (from the Tamworth pig I purchased from Lockhart Farm) and called it delicious! It doesn't get much better than that in our book.

It felt like such a reward to finally harvest and eat the fruits of our labor over the past few months. Now we're trying to decide what we want to plant in the front urns for over the winter. Any suggestions for your favorite hardy plants that can weather the cold?

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  1. I don't know about veggies being planted this time of year (although most greens - turnip, collard, mustard, kale - like the cold and in fact taste better after a frost), but if you are just looking for something to plant, a lot of people plant pansies during cold weather here in Alabama. I have pictures of them last year with snow on them with their lovely, happy colors peeking out. They can't take the heat so by mid Spring, they are about finished. They are a nice pop of color in a dreary colored season.
    Vicki in Birmingham

  2. I live in the same neighborhood as you, and my kale looks pretty good! Maybe kale and pansies for fun?
    I think I'm going to try some chard too!!

    1. Wow, nice to virtually meet you. We wish we got more sun in the back of the house and we are looking to try some different things next year with the front. If you happen to walk by and see us gardening please stop and say hello!

  3. How fun! I never knew! I am starting my first garden this spring, Brussels will definitely have to be among them!