On the farm, the last big harvest of the year has begun. Starting before sunrise each morning, our crew heads out to the fields, all bundled up to prepare the Brussels sprout plants to be harvested. Walking up and down the rows, the big green leaves from each plant are stripped by hand. Next, a weed eater is used to cut down the tall stalks, heavy with little Brussels sprouts. Each stalk can produce up to two pounds of Brussels sprouts. The stalks are graded and placed into piles to be put through the harvester or brought back to the Packhouse. Brussels sprouts stalks are packed in boxes or bins. Loose Brussels sprouts from the harvester are graded on the processing line and packed into 20 lb. boxes for our customers. On a good day, we can harvest up to one acre of Brussels sprouts, about 6 000 pounds.
We started growing Brussels sprouts in the mid-1990s. Our cool climate and silt loam soil allow us to consistently grow a good crop each year; but, growing Brussels sprouts is not an easy feat. Each plant is started by seed in the greenhouse in March. In early May, when the seedlings are strong enough they are planted out in the fields by hand with our transplanter. About four weeks before we start the harvest, each Brussels sprout plant needs to be “topped out”. This process involves walking the field and snapping off the top of the Brussels sprout stalk, the growing point, to allow sprouts to size up and develop.
All of our Brussels sprouts are sold on the fresh market, in stalk form or loose, graded by size. Many of our customers are surprised to learn how the sprouts grow on stalks. Brussels sprouts are a member of the Brassica Oleracea family and are a very healthy addition to any diet. Brussels sprouts are low in calories, extremely high in fiber, contain many vitamins and nutrients, and they are rich in antioxidants. Brussels sprouts are simple to prepare and can be enjoyed in several side dishes. There are many unique Brussels sprout recipes – everything from roasting to steaming, pickling to salads. Why not try this delicious vegetable tonight!