6 Dec 2011

Beautiful brassicas

Earlier this year, Victoriana Nurseries sent me a parcel of veg seedlings for the garden.  I've already written of the much anticipated cut-and-come again cauliflowers.  I'm not entirely sure what to look out for to see signs of cauliflower heads forming but I assume that the lovely rich soil they're growing in will encourage them to carry on and do the right thing.  They're looking wonderfully strong and  healthy and must measure at least three feet across which seems like a very good thing to me.

Cut and come again cauliflower

Also in the parcel were Tozer brussels sprouts (and rambling strawberries but, for now, let's just talk brassicas). How exciting to grow your own christmas dinner sprouts - and purple ones at that! More by luck than judgement, they were planted into a patch of well-manured soil - which I now know is exactly the right thing for them.  I wish I'd known to plant them deep (up to the first leaves for stability) but they seem to be doing okay as I staked them young.  In fact, I think they're really rather beautiful.

Sprout tops

I would have photographed the tiny sprouts forming but they're in shadow as the plants are between a raised bed and a low wall.  The tops have been catching my eye for a while now - the colours are stunning as the leaves of Tozer are richly veined with bright purple.  I'm not sure my pic does them justice but the shot that I missed last month was when bright orange nasturtiums had worked their way next to the plants.  The orange/purple contrast was sublime but it was too dark at dusk for photography so that one has to stay in my head.  The tops can apparently be cooked and eaten like cabbage - Sue at Backlane Notebook has been experimenting with cutting off the tops for eating.  I'm not sure whether this will inhibit the sprouts' growth or whether this will divert energy back into the sprouts.  Does anyone have any experience of this? I'd love to know as I don't want to waste the delicious tops!


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing how the cut and come again cauliflowers do for you. I've only grown cauliflowers once before and didn't notice the curds until they were already fully formed. That's probably just me though, walking around without looking at things properly.

  2. @Jo
    I wander with a camera in hand which is a great way to focus on what's happening. I do love to walk very slowly around the veg patch, thinking and plotting. I find it very therapeutic, even in winter!

  3. I am very much excited about seeing how the cut and come again cauliflowers do! As for the Brussels...one word - Yum!

  4. @Philippa
    Ooh, I can only hope - Yum sounds good to me! And, of course, I'll be keeping everyone updated as to cauliflower progress.

  5. Your brassicas are looking extremely healthy and obviously well-cared for. I always stir fry my brussels tops and I don't think it makes any difference to the size of the sprouts after it has been removed.

  6. @elaine
    Ah thank you Elaine! That's what I wanted to know. The leaves look as though they might be quite tasty and it would be a shame to waste them. I think I might let my sprouts get a little bit bigger first though - they're really tiny at the moment. (Do you take the leaves off as the sprouts grow? I see lots of naked stems with sprouts clinging to the sides.) C x

  7. Your brassicas look so healthy. I'm considering what to grow at the allotment next year and I'd like to do more winter veg but the site is so exposed. Most peoples' brussels have fallen over. I was going to invest in some cloches but I worry about them surviving up there. Oh to have a sheltered walled garden ...!!! A girl can dream.

  8. @wellywoman
    I'm afraid if anything keels over in the veg patch, it's propped up with sticks and wigwams. I think I'd grow a edible hedge as a natural windbreak - less easy for nature to uproot things! My cloches are made of discarded water pipes from a house conversion and cheap fleece protection. It won't matter too much if they go missing. Give winter growing a try!

  9. They all look good! I don't grow brassicas on the plot as I'm not that keen on them, and there's too much faffing around. Flighty xx

  10. @flightplot
    Flighty, you surprise me! What about Bubble and Squeak? Cauliflower Cheese? Everyone has a vegetable they don't like and for me it would have to be broad beans ... although I like the flowers on scarlet broad beans! xx


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