A controversial vegetable in our household, yet my brussels sprouts thrive. Despite the heat, humidity and bugs, my first attempt has proved successful. While this plant prefers cooler weather, much like cabbage, it has remained true to my devotion — a little love talk helps — and provided a wonderful bountiful harvest. Granted, a little worse for the wear under the summer temps, but good, solid growth. Interesting growth habit. Looks a bit like a palm tree, doesn’t it?
Why did I choose to grow brussels sprouts? Because I like brussels sprouts. I enjoy their fresh, crisp taste and healthful benefits and I alone tend to their needs. No one else. You can imagine my pleasure when a friend came to harvest this weekend and gushed with delight at the sight of my brussels! Whoa, Nelly. Could it be? An equal devotee to the brussels sprout?
Indeed. Like most things in life, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To each his own goes the old saying and critically important when planning your next crop of vegetables. I mean, sure okra is easy to grow, but who eats it? It’s reputation for slime is legendary (obviously spread by folks who’ve never tasted it fresh from the plant — not a speck of slime to be found!) and its common preparation, fried. Which doesn’t sit well with the whole “fresh from the garden” goodness. Corn, on the other hand, epitomizes home-grown summer splendor, but not always gardener friendly. Heavy feeder, heavy drinker. Beans? What’s not to like about beans — easy, yummy and keep for months!
But brussels sprouts? Few fans, to be sure. With one success under my apron, do they warrant an entire row this fall? Not hardly. Who can eat that many brussels sprouts by themselves? Not me. Not even frozen. Remember, I have Limas and peas, cabbage and broccoli, spinach and lettuce — when do I have the time to slip in another serving of brussels sprouts? My “greens” are covered.
Starches, beans, fruits and nuts… my food pyramid is on target. But the brussels experiment does remind me, thoughtful planning is essential to a well-rounded dinner plate. For that matter, lunch and breakfast, too. The key to remember is grow what you’ll eat. Limiting your harvest to the family favorites keeps your meals fresh and timely, with little need for freezer storage. After all, in the old days, they didn’t have the luxury, did they? They ate what the season yielded. It’s no coincidence we eat sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and peach cobbler during the summer — it’s what Mother Nature intended! Like most mothers, she understands the value of planning meals ahead of time. Something I’m still working to master.