Chief Gardening Officer Mike Smith recently made us aware of Flower Sprouts, called the first new vegetable in 10 years, a cross between Kale and Brussels Sprouts. (See Mike’s post). At Mike’s suggestion we decided to try them in the Garden this year.
Flower Sprouts thriving in the Robbins Farm Garden, with proud parents Kale and Brussels Sprouts (not shown) close at hand.
Reportedly, the Flower Sprout was developed by Tozer Seeds, a family-owned business in Surrey, UK and was first introduced in 2010. Both an owner and a senior plant breeder from Tozer expressed pride to the press over this first new vegetable in a decade. Apparently, this enthusiasm is not shared by everybody in the UK, with the Daily Mail announcing “A New Vegetable for Your Children to Hate“. Even the BBC Surrey reporter interviewing the Tozer Seeds representatives seemed to be trying to overcome her timidity over veggies to faintly praise the Flower Sprout although Dr Frankenstein probably thought the same about his little project, the Flower Sprout is different.
Far from being some sort of hybrid monster, it has been developed over the last ten years using traditional breeding techniques…….. It has a Brussels sprout-like growing habit with its tall stem and rosettes forming all the way up to a frilly-leaved top. A bit like one of the more imaginative hats you see at Ascot Ladies Day. And its appeal may go further than just the aesthetic. Brussels Sprout haters around the world could possibly be won over by its milder, sweeter flavour. But for those of you who, like me, are of a nervous disposition and get easily frightened by funny shaped vegetables, be warned! “Funny-shaped”? We would take issue with that description, but, of course, we Robbins Farm Gardeners are particularly enthusiastic and welcoming to our veggies, be they “old standbys” or exotic newcomers. As the reporter notes, Flower Sprouts grow in a stalk like Brussels Sprout, but the “sprouts” remain open, forming small curly leaves like Kale. And, they’re a lovely deep green and purple. Many of us are excited for them to be ready to harvest but we hope you will come visit them in our Garden first.