Where did I get the idea to plant brussel sprouts? Not that we particularly liked this bizarre vegetable … I simply liked the name … and I liked the pictures of them on the Internet … long bulbous stalks that look like green sleigh bells. Too bad that’s where my investigation of brussel sprouts stopped.
I excitedly planted the seeds in late May, and this week marks the 22nd week I have been the care taker of my three remaining brussel sprout plants. That is longer than some of my past committed relationships.
By the fourth week my plants were growing nicely, and I was quite smug with their quick progress. I thinned them down to six sturdy plants. They and the onions, carrots, basil and peppers seemed to be getting along nicely. My little green house was a sanctuary … I enjoyed watering with my grandfather’s old metal watering can, the smell of the growing plants, and the warmth inside even on cool days. I enjoyed the sweet white moths that soon appeared and flitted around the plants … pollinators, I thought. How very kind of them!
When the holes began appearing in the large succulent leaves of my sprouts, a friend told me I had cabbage worms … the babies of those cute white moths. Every morning became a sacred ritual … picking off the cabbage worms. I squished any worm that showed itself in the morning light. I felt both gratuitously cruel to these rather cute little worms and justified like a protective brussel sprout mamma bear.
For weeks I have dewormed, mulched, watered, pruned, stalked, and talked to my brussel babies. And even though the sprouts have stopped growing and remain about the size of a dime … I’m going to eat those damn brussel sprouts, come hell or high water. Perhaps I’ll fry them with bacon … dip them in chocolate fondue if I have to … or simply nip them off the stem and pop them into my mouth! I spent $2.99 on the pack of seeds, and dedicated approximately 77 hours of my tenaciously stubborn energy. I will not go down in defeat!
What have I learned? Many things … first off, gardening can be hardcore. Next, brussel sprouts are as nasty to grow as their notorious taste. I have also learned that I will never again wonder why the organic vegetables are a bit more money than the pesticide laden ones.
Have you hugged an organic farmer today? Believe me, they’re saints among the soil!
Sharon Robson (The Guardian Newspaper, Nov 2015)
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