Saturday, October 24, 2009
A Sea of Brassicas and Brussels
Brassica is a genus of plants in the mustard family. The members of the genus may be collectively known either as cabbages, or as mustards. Crops from this genus are sometimes called cole crops, which is derived from the Latin caulis, meaning stem or cabbage...this description is credited to Wikipedia and I include it now because I often use this word as I seem to enjoy the way it rolls off the tongue.
When walking the fields these days, it is not summer anymore. It is fall, coming close to winter. You must see beauty of farming beyond the thought of tomatoes, corn, beans, cucumber, melons....all of which, while still alive and well as we have not had a frost in Sonoma County yet, but have long ago started going over the hill for their season. When I observe the current state of what is happening on the farm, this is what I see. An up and coming glorious section of the farm covered in a sea of healthy brassicas including brussels, broccoli, cauliflowers, cabbages, etc...
The variety available in these plants is much more than you might imagine. You have mostly all seen orange and purple cauliflowers by now. Don't forget your savoy cabbages, napa cabbages, red and green cabbages (sauerkraut too). There is the Purple of Sicily cauliflower to look forward to...it takes a long season to mature, but once it rolls around mid-winter it is cauliflower heaven on earth. All of these treasures are tucked away within this one little sea of green in the northwest section of the field.
The brussels are admittedly my personal favorite. I feel proud of them as a grower, intrigued by them as a viewer and satisfied by them as a consumer. Brussels are just neat and I hope anyone who does not consider them might think twice. They carry us with a regular harvest during the cold months with flavorful little green bursts of sweet cabbages. The plants look like some fantastic creature I cannot identify. It is one of those veggies I think it could benefit to take the kids out for a look and see how it actually grows, maybe take a picture of the kids next to a monstrous brussel plant that is the same size as they are.
Additionally, if the standard variety of brussel is not interesting enough, the purple brussel is on it's way this season. I have been following this crop closely since we seeded in months and months ago. Here it finally is setting some sprouts, harvest is not so far off. It will be time for a taste test of brussels sprouts colors and colorful brussel dishes.
Looking forward to the season of brassicas in addition to all the other fall and winter crops including parsnips, sunchokes, celeriac, beets, rutabaga, carrots, a plethora of dried shell beans and more. If you haven't already resigned yourself to a local and seasonal diet, consider giving up grocery store bought tomatoes this winter....try eating with the seasons and locally, there is so much food that is grown right here and Tierra stays open all year long to accommodate you being able to do so!