Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brassicas and Spring

Did you know that every one of the brassicas are related to mustard? Kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, broccoli raab and a host of others I can't think of or name right now are all derived from good old mustard. I think that is too cool.

We've had a bodacious crop of Brussels sprouts this year, much thanks to my friend Jenny who brought me some plants in September that I set out, feeling skeptical as always that I would never actually harvest any sprouts, either because I planted them too late or just wasn't any good at growing them for some reason.

Not so this time. Maybe due to the warm weather- or that they were in a good rich sunny spot in the garden, but we have been picking delicious little babies since Thanksgiving. Now since I haven't grown that many Brussels sprouts I had never heard until this spring that you are supposed to cut the top off of the plant to force energy into the stalks and the little sprouts that are growing up the sides.

Not having done that, our plants now have these giant Brussels sprouts/mini cabbages sitting at the top of each stalk. I reasoned that I should be able to eat these- why not, the whole plant should be edible, we eat the leaf of collards- which look just like the leaves of Brussels sprouts, we eat cabbage, so I cut three of the tops off and cooked them up.

They really did look like giant Brussels sprouts- I quartered them and removed the core like a cabbage, then sliced them and sauteed them with mushrooms and a green onion in olive oil with salt and pepper. They were the most beautiful color- I included some of the dark green outer leaves as well as the yellowish centers and with the green you expect from a Brussels sprout as well, this skillet was a multi toned green bonanza.

Along side a roasted chicken and some brown rice with gravy, mmmm, we were smilin'.

The peppers and eggplants have sprouted, the nasturtiums are up, even the seeds like dust of the celeriac and Icelandic poppies are coming up too, everything is looking pretty good and I can probably retire the heating pad soon and just concentrate on getting enough light to everything.

With the moon almost full, all the plants are shooting out of the ground outside, we have a new kind of daffodil blooming everyday it seems and they are only about halfway through in terms of the many kinds we have that move from the earliest to the latest of the season.

Nothing says spring like daffodils and speaking of which- here it is, the equinox. I was pondering the fact that while we are here celebrating the vernal equinox in NC., US of A, our friends who recently moved to Australia are celebrating the autumnal equinox on the very same day- that just seems crazy and fantastic somehow - but there you have it.

I don't know about you- but I get pretty excited knowing that for the next three months- the days are going to keep getting longer and we'll always have more light than dark until this time in September, let there be light and lots of it, but let the rains come as well please, we got 4/10ths of an inch last night- better than nothing but I was hoping for more.

Happy Spring to the Northern Hemisphere and to you in the southern hemisphere- Happy Fall.


maggie said...

Happy Spring to you. I'm still torn on whether the brussel sprouts and cauliflower will do better in spring or fall. I think cabbage does better in the spring here.

Here's to longer days!

Garden Girl said...

That's a good question- I'm more of a fall brassica person- especially broccoli and brussel sprouts, as things tend to bolt to flower here in the lowlands when the weather warms, and those pesky cabbage loopers eat holes in everything. Plus we have the mondo asparagus bed so are busy trying to eat those guys at the same time that broccoi etc would be coming, so I've been holding off on some of the brassicas in spring.
I harvested green cabbage in the fall, and the purple cabbage wintered over and I'm about to start harvesting it- will see how it looks inside after all the cold weather- its beautiful on the outside.
I also- inadvertently- thought it was broccoli- planted more green cabbage this spring- so hopefully it will make and we'll be eating lots of slaw in early summer...