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Just in Time for Thanksgiving

November 19, 2012

Green bean casserole has never graced our table for Thanksgiving, but Brussels Sprouts are usually the vegetable that gets the attention for Turkey day.  They are definitely in season now and make a good choice for fall and early winter dinners.  Roasted, sautéed, or in salads they taste good no matter how you cook them, unless you overcook them that is.  We eat as many fresh as we can, and then freeze the rest, although they never quite taste the same after that :(

Diablo F1

Brussels sprouts are also one of those vegetables that are frustrating to grow, hybrid varieties make it fairly easy, but the OP’s are a different story.  My personal challenge is trying to grow a red version.  After years of watching Red Rubine and Falstaff fail, I tried Red Bull from Adaptive Seeds.  We won’t be having red sprouts for Thanksgiving, suffice it to say.  They are slowly forming, and the plants have been attacked throughout the summer by cabbage moths.  Grown in the same row as the Diablo and planted at the same time, they were quite attractive to the cabbage worms.  Which proves my theory that it is the poor health or lack of vibrancy that attracts the bugs in the first place.  Why these are weaker I have no idea.  They have done well enough to try again, and it’s been an interesting experiment.

Red Bull OP

For some inspiration there is whole section of Brussels Sprouts recipes at Saveur.

What is the challenging vegetable in your garden?

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    November 19, 2012 8:57 am

    I’m so frustrated with brussels sprouts! This year’s crop is absolutely gorgeous. Can’t tell you what variety, but they are huge and perfect. Then, while I was up to my eyeballs in tomatoes, peppers, plums and pears, they picked up the worst case of those sooty black aphids I’ve ever seen. YUK, a complete loss. :( Going to have to do some research, and maybe next year we’ll be back to reveling in entire trays of the heavenly little green globes, mixed with a handful of walnuts and roasted with a little olive oil.

    • November 19, 2012 9:14 am

      Susan, I know what you mean, these little red guys have a touch of aphids too, and right next to them the green one are beautiful with hardly any insect damage at all.

  2. November 19, 2012 9:01 am

    “Which proves my theory that it is the poor health or lack of vibrancy that attracts the bugs in the first place.”

    So true! I’ve found this time and again in my gardens. I wonder–do the weak plants attract the insects in the first place (they wouldn’t be there if the plants weren’t there), or do the insects that were there anyway attack the weak plants and leave more of the stronger plants alone? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

    • November 19, 2012 9:24 am

      Lorna, well, actually the plants highest in Brix (sugar) aren’t attractive to bugs because insects can’t digest the sugars so it makes sense the higher Brix plants are healthier and getting all they need from the soil. Like you I have seen it time and again, this summer in the new greenhouse, I have about 60 kale plants of mixed varieties, only one variety was ravaged by the cabbage worms, and now they have some aphids. If you read much biodynamic seed saving teachings, they state that the planting in the correct moon phase as well as harvesting seed in the correct moon phase or not will have effects on the subsequent plants from those seeds. Just like us or animals the parents and gestation conditions have a lot more to do with our lives than we care to pay attention to.

  3. November 19, 2012 9:19 am

    This is the first year we got brussels to work up to anything half decent. I think the mild autumn has helped. My bugbear is cauliflowers. I have only ever once had a decent crop of those and never since despite three changes of location. I don’t know how to grow them, that’s for sure.

    • November 19, 2012 9:27 am

      I’ve had mixed results with OP cauliflower for sure, but the hybrids are stupendous and always do well, but the seed is very expensive but when you compare the price of seed even if it is expensive to the price of a head of cauliflower in the store, you can get a lot for your money. Brassicas of any type really excel here in our climate though, so I do have an unfair advantage there :)

      • November 19, 2012 10:27 am

        Brassicas normally don’t do so well here in Latvia, this year was the first time we have really done quite well with them, but then it has been a poor year for just about everything else.

  4. Dana S permalink
    November 19, 2012 11:12 am

    I’ve been fighting moths and aphids all summer with my brassicas! They are by far the worst pests in my garden and I just don’t know how to get rid of them. I blast them off my plants with water streams, pinch the stuffin out of the worms, use floating row covers and I’ve even resorted to Captain Jack’s Deadbug brew. I love how easy brassicas are during the rest of the year, but moth season is the worst.

  5. November 19, 2012 1:08 pm

    I grew Diablo as well. They did ok, a lot of aphid pressure (but better than last year) so the outer layers aren’t pretty but once you get past that they’re fine. People at the market didn’t seem to care but it is frustrating to have a such heavy aphid pressure. I’ll try throwing a little more fertility at them next year and maybe try some foliar feeding throughout the summer…

    • November 19, 2012 2:08 pm

      Ben, I really liked Oliver, but alas it was a Seminis variety, so there goes that. Diablo did pretty well except I think pinching the apical bud the first week in September was too soon for this variety, they blew up and made blowsy top sprouts. Never had that happen with Oliver and the Red Bull seem immune as well, although they are reallllly slow to size, but they may be as cold tolerant as red cabbage so maybe it’s not a bust.

      My frustration with aphids and cabbage worms this year was with Lacinato. They are a mess, and just now starting to come out it, and right next to them are Rainbow Lacinato and White Russian which have been very robust and insect resistant. Same soil, fertilization, and irrigation schedule, but a marked difference in plant health.

      • November 21, 2012 6:26 pm

        I’ve had my worst brussels season in years this year. I think it’s partially due to not giving them enough space but I have also seen more problems in the kale and other brassicas this year than any year in the recent past. I usually find sometime around the second week of September to be good topping time, but I’ve always based it on the length stalk I want for market or CSA. I’ve been trying to make Roodnerf (OP) work for the past couple seasons but I might have to go back to the F1s. Either that or I should save the few that are doing ok this year, save seed and try again.

  6. November 19, 2012 9:30 pm

    I topped mine the beginning of October which I thought was a bit late. They’re shaping up on top but still pretty small. Maybe mid sept?

    • November 20, 2012 6:01 am

      Ben, next year I guess…sigh. They aren’t ruined but I’m going to miss all those sprouts at the top on each plant. On a good note, next spring is predicted to be back to “normal” and not so wet, so maybe a more normal gardening year in the offing?

  7. Bev permalink
    November 20, 2012 6:23 am

    I totally agree with you about the health of the plant and how well it produces. I actually heard two family members have an arguement on when to plant, that it wouldn’t grow well well because it was the dark of the moon. Dark of the moon for root crops and the light of the moon for above ground plants. Years later we did our own test and found out that things did well no matter what phase of the moon it was. I am sure there could be some truth in that. Enough that people talked about it. There is so much farming lore that is right on. The fun of growing your food is that you always are learning something new everyday.

    • November 20, 2012 8:13 am

      Bev, we really rely on the moon for castration and hay, but with veggie planting sometimes we just have to put the stuff in because our weather windows are so small.

      I agree it is fun growing food, pretty to look at while its growing and then you get to eat it!

  8. November 20, 2012 7:23 am

    Ugh. Cabbage moths. Ugh. Day after day picking the little worms off and dusting the plants with diatomaceous earth. Ugh.

    Brussels Sprouts. Ugh. I guarantee a worm in every head or your money back.

    You know what is easy? Tossing turnip and diakon radish seeds on the ground just before I move the pigs to fresh pasture. I bet every seed germinated. Happy cows.

    • November 20, 2012 8:15 am

      HFS, that does not sound like fun :(

      Does the milk taste like sauerkraut or kimchi then? That would save a step or two…

  9. November 20, 2012 12:34 pm

    Milk tastes fine. Cows are in the barn all night so it works its way through. Seemed like an quick way to put something palatable in my pastures. Too much fescue. I’ll be tossing a lot of clover seed in about 2 months. Geez. Looking at my calendar for February is not fun.

    • November 20, 2012 2:15 pm

      HFS, that makes sense, hopefully you’ll see the fescue recede once you get some other stuff going and the fertility up. I know, I just moved the cows and was ticking off the grazing days left, and realizing that it’s almost the first of the year :( I have to get a new Plan-a-Year, oh yeah, its November :(

  10. November 21, 2012 4:50 pm

    I don’t do much winter gardening. I did try kale and chard this year and have a bumper crop so far. We’ll see what the colder weather does. I love brussel sprouts, but have never grown any. – Margy

  11. jamie connell permalink
    November 27, 2012 1:16 am

    what oth,ter seeds have you purchased from adaptive seeds,i get some from them as their my neighbor,purchased greenhouse this oct/put up inearly spring,30×75 all new to me

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