Indeed, when planning my garden, I factor in many things: what will the yield be per square foot, how much money will I save, how much better will it taste for being home-grown? Brussels sprouts barely merit growing for these reasons, but the sheer novelty of the plant warrants space.
In past years, my sprouts have never achieved “supermarket size.” Is it because I crowd the plants, constricting the root growth and hence the plant – limiting the amount of nutrients the roots can suck up from the soil? Or perhaps, I need to lop off the top to push the nutrients back down into the budding sprouts.
This year I did both. I measured precisely 36 inches between each plant. And last week, after I cleared away all the remaining tomato plants, I cut off the top tuft of leaves. I’m wondering, should I also strip away the leaves, giving the buds more room to grow?
I know the brussels sprouts will taste sweeter after the first frost, but some of the buds are sprouting open. If I don’t harvest them now, I won’t have any to eat, sweet or not.
A little nibble at the leaves tells me they’re still a little bitter, so I roasted them with sweet potatoes and bacon to balance the flavors.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Sage
1 slice bacon
1 sweet potato
Handful of brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 tbs. olive oil.
Salt and pepper
1. Dice bacon. Put in an ovenproof dish and into a 425 oven.
2. Meanwhile, peel and cubed sweet potatoes.
3. Toss sweet potatoes with bacon, season with salt and pepper, and return to oven. Roast until browned and soft.
4. In a separate pan, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil, slat and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until tender and caramelized on the bottom.
5. Mix the two together. Garnish with fried sage.