Brussels sprouts on the stem

Harvesting Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts on the stem

That was interesting! I’ve harvested Brussels sprouts by picking the individual heads, but for our first bigger harvest of about 60 plants, to speed things up, I decided to take the whole thing.

First try: chopping the base of the stem with the machete-like harvest knife was like hitting a piece of hardwood. Wow! Tough and cut-resistant… Next up, a sharp hatchet fared no better: a solid whack hardly penetrated.

So, we pulled ’em up, roots and all. They set in pretty good, but the main roots are shallow, so even with knocking off the clumped soil, this went quickly.

Next, we discovered that removing the roots is easily accomplished with a short, fairly rigid hand saw. Once we figured out the right starting angle, one and half full strokes cut through the stems like butter: zip-zip-zip!

Back to the harvest knife: swipe off the head, and then, holding the base of the stem, about four downward lopping strokes, rotating after each, sheared off the leaves. Kinda odd looking results, but efficient all around.

The sprouts, catching up from the summer drought, haven’t all filled out, still, a healthy yield of full-size to tiny heads from each one.

It was a completely novel, different harvest process than for all the other veggies. All the chopping and cutting was…fun!


6 thoughts on “Harvesting Brussels sprouts”

  1. I have found that a long handled pruning lopper will sever the plant at the base efficiently.
    One way to prevent the “large to tiny” syndrome is to go in about late Aug and top the plant. This stops the plant from trying to keep growing and setting new tiny heads, and instead puts all its energy into filling out the heads it already has.
    One way I like to preserve them is digging them up before hard winter comes and planting them into 2 gallon pots and storing them in a place that does not freeze hard. I have harvested nice fresh Brussels Sprouts clear into spring this way.

  2. richo: Those are two useful tips. The pruning lopper sounds like it could be heavy-duty enough for the job I had. And topping the plants makes sense for 90-100 day+ Brussels sprouts, especially in a short season like here (May through September). Although I enjoy seeing crops go as far as they can each season, that’s often not so practical for yield! :)

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