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Vermont Garden Journal: Brussels Sprouts

AP/Jason DeCrow

Friday, October 4, 2013 at 5:57 p.m. and Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Brussels sprout, Brussels sprout!
Throw the nasty rascal out. Give us pizza, give us meat. Give us anything that's sweet. In the evening how I hate to see you lying on my plate. You are green and round and wide, Which makes you very hard to hide. And so, with milk, I wash you down. Even then I gag and frown. Though you're good for me, no doubt. A pox upon thee, O Brussels sprout. This Grandpa Ticker poem pretty much sums up many people's feeling about eating Brussels sprouts.

But I think Brussels sprouts are misunderstood and misused. When cooked correctly with the right ingredients such as cheese, raisins or nuts, they taste amazing. You can also eat them shaved raw in salads. The key is to pick Brussels sprouts after the cold has turned them from smelly little cabbages to sweet, delectable orbs.

Brussels sprout cultivation dates back to the Romans, but they became popular in Europe, and especially Brussels, in the 1600s. They're simple to grow. Plant seedlings of green or red varieties when you would broccoli, in well-drained, compost amended soil. Protect transplants from cutworms and flea beetles. Side dress monthly with an organic fertilizer and keep the cabbageworms from shredding their leaves by spraying Bacillus thuriengensis. By fall you should have 3 foot tall plants with round sprouts forming along the stem. If you aren't seeing many sprouts forming, simply cut off the top of the plant so it sends more energy into forming sprouts and less into new growth. Brussels sprouts can take a frost and keep producing right into winter.

And now for this week's tip, October is garlic planting time. Select hard or soft neck varieties from the local garden center or ones you saved from this years crop. Build a raised bed, amend the soil with compost, and plant cloves 6 inches apart in the bed. Keep well watered, and mulch the beds with straw in November.

Next week on The Vermont Garden Journal I'll be talking about daffodils. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

Brussels Sprouts
How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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