Our winter has started early here. Snow is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow, and varying combinations of illness, rain, and wind have kept us inside much of the past few weeks. Yesterday wasn't a great day, weather-wise, but it wasn't raining and we didn't have a wind chill, so out we went. It was the first time I'd had a chance to walk through the garden in at least 2 (or more) weeks. We picked the last of the fall raspberries, noted that there were still cherry tomatoes on the vine (albeit squishy ones, destined for the turkeys), took a look at the kale (doing nicely in this cold weather), and had a walk through the brussel sprouts. Prior to the first frost, the brussel sprouts didn't look like much. This is the first year we've grown brussel sprouts, and we've had such lackluster performance in the garden this year that we weren't expecting a lot.
You can imagine my surprise when I found that all of the brussel sprout plants looked healthy, robust, and quite full. And by all of them, I mean all 20 of them.
Andy and I like brussel sprouts, but the kids aren't too enthused. (But then the kids aren't too enthused about many vegetables.) Andy likes them best sauteed in garlic butter. I must confess, however, that when I realized I had approximately 20 dinners worth of brussel sprouts I was a little daunted. Who decided to plant all these brussel sprouts anyway?
Oh, yeah. That would be me.
I was the one who loaded all those plants onto the cart at the farm -- banking on my past experience that you ought to plant more than you think you'll need because there is always some sort of garden disaster skulking around. I remember that Andy asked me, "What are all those?" And I said, "Brussel sprouts," and he said, "O-kaaay," and I said, "Well, the very first year we were here, I tried to grow brussel sprouts twice and they didn't work. So I'm getting a bunch this year."
In any case, when I came in from our walk yesterday, I immediately pulled Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living off the shelf and looked up brussel sprouts. Carla Emery says that you can harvest brussel sprouts through snow, probably "until January". Apparently, you can freeze them, but "most people" just leave them in the garden. The stalks will (supposedly) grow new sprouts, so that each stalk can produce "as much as 100 sprouts!"
Quick calculations indicate that 20 plants -- theoretically -- could produce as many as 2000 actual sprouts.
That's a lot of brussel sprouts.
I'm not sure what I would do with 2000 brussel sprouts. So I guess I'm not that upset that when I asked Andy to bring me some brussel sprouts for dinner, he cut the whole stalk instead.