A Question about Brussel Sprouts

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I have tried to raise brussel sprouts before, but this time I am actually close to harvesting some, I think. My question is this: of all the pictures I've ever seen of brussel sprouts growing, there is a little bunch of leaves at the top, and then the sprouts sticking out all up and down the tall bare stem. Well, mine have leaves all up the stem, and the sprouts are coming out just above where the leaf joins the stem. Am I supposed to break off the leaves, or do they just drop off by themselves by the time the sprouts are ready to pick? Any info on raising brussel sprouts will be appreciated, as I know of no one personally who has raised them that I can ask. The only other time I tried to raise them, the sprouts opened into leaves before they were big enough to harvest.

-- Lela R. Picking (stllwtrs55@aol.com), June 03, 2001


Yes...you do break off the leaves as you see the small sprout buds appear. Don't let the sprouts get too big before twisting them off, they are best when smallish. (Maybe dime size???) Also...in my experience and I've seen it written too...the sprouts will taste the sweetest and not as bitter after they have been exposed to at least one mild frost. Just what I have found to be true. The same goes for broccoli and cauliflower...a mild frost makes for better taste. We are in upstate NY. :-)

-- Cheri Asprion (t.asprion@att.net), June 03, 2001.

Don't even bother with these demon foods. Any food that smells like that cooking is straight from the devil himself.

-- April (atobias@yahoo.com), June 03, 2001.

In response to April: I personally cannot stand the smell of Brussel sprouts cooking, either. However, they are a favorite of my husband, and over the years every one of my six children (aged 2-13) have grown to love them. They actually beg for them. I wanted to raise them myself this year, but didn't have room in the garden. Never raised them before, so I'll be looking to see what the response to this thread is.

-- Cathy N. (keeper8@attcanada.ca), June 03, 2001.

We had a good crop of brussel sprouts last year, havn;t planted any this year. We found many worms, and not just on the outside. Any suggestions to help with the bugs? We try to avoid using pesticides.

-- Mike Pasterik (mike@pasterik.com), June 03, 2001.

Lela, You should also break off the top of the plant once the little sprouts have started forming. This is so the plant will put all it's effort into growing the sprouts rather than growing a taller plant. To protect the plants from cabbage butterflies which lay eggs that hatch into those green caterpillars, I use Remay. This is a protective "blanket" that lets in the light, but keeps the bugs away. As for the taste....smother them in butter with a little salt and pepper, and we think they are delicious!!! High in antioxidents, too. Good luck!

-- Marcia (HrMr@webtv.net), June 03, 2001.

We love brussel sprouts !!! I continue harvesting them into Novemeber even after many frosts in our area. All the previous advice that you have received will be very helpful. Good Luck raising them and they aren't the Devils food (realize that is a joke) but maybe the smell does keep the Vampires away...or is that garlic ??? Happy Spring !!!

-- Helena Di Maio (windyacs@ptdprolog.net), June 03, 2001.

Everyone is right about twisting out the top and pulling off the lower leaves when the sprouts start to form. If you don't your sprouts won't get very big. We grow them here in southeast TX as a winter crop, and even though they stink, I just love them.

-- HannahMariaHolly (hannahholly@hotmail.com), June 03, 2001.

Another way to get rid of caterpillars on brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, etc is to use Dipel (bacillus thuringenesis). If I remember right, it kills the bacteria in their digestive tracts, so the caterpillars die too. It is available from Jungs and other places. It is a natural pesticide, so isn't bad to use.

-- Cynthia Speer (farmsteader@gvtel.com), June 05, 2001.

I cook brussel sprouts in a little butter and flavor with dill herbs. Kinda kills the smell and makes a great sauce.

-- Cindy (colawson@mindspring.com), June 06, 2001.

I work at a vegetable farm where we raise brussel sprouts that are big and beautiful and tasty. We have some people who prefer the smaller sprouts and some who prefer the larger ones, so that's just a matter of taste. We lop the tops off when the sprouts start to form, but we don't lop the leaves off until we harvest them. We have a very large brussel sprouts following at the local farmers markets! (On a more personal note, I like their growth habit but I would never get past using them as an ornamental!!!)

-- Sheryl in ME (Radams@sacoriver.net), June 06, 2001.

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