The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Planning this year's brussels sprouts

Frost-damaged broccoli

I stopped picking broccoli side shoots two or three weeks ago.  The plants are still putting out a few little heads, but they get so damaged by heavy frosts that they're not worth eating.

Brussels sprouts

Luckily, Brussels sprouts seem undaunted by weather in the teens.  This is our first year growing these tasty morsels, and we've found them to be easy and delicious.  There's room for improvement in my methodology, though.

Winter sproutsAs our  new, experimental vegetable, Brussels sprouts got last dibs on prime garden real estate after the broccoli and the cabbage.  That means only four seedlings were transplanted into the garden on July 27, with the rest waiting another week.  The later-planted Brussels sprouts also went into the front garden, which is far too shady for much production in cold weather since it's nestled up against a north-facing hill.  Small surprise we've only been enjoying the rewards from those early and sunny plants (although the late and cold plants are still doing fine and may churn out sprouts in the spring).

This year, I'm going to start the Brussels sprouts a week earlier and get them all into the garden by the middle of July (if I can find room).  I'm also going to put Brussels sprouts near the top of our list of important winter crops, after kale, lettuce, and broccoli, but before Asian greens, cabbages, and mustard.  Finally, at Mark's request, I'll also be growing lots and lots more.  Maybe next winter, Brussels sprouts will change from a special treat to a regular occurence on our plates.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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