Most households have already made the big Christmas Day decision – to sprout or not to sprout.
This most traditional of Christmas vegetables divides opinion in a way matched only by Marmite; few of us are indifferent to a Brussels sprout…it’s very much a love or hate situation!
But even for lovers of the sprout, seeing it as a thing of beauty is a a bit of a leap.
However, this may all be about to change thanks to a stunning set of photographs released by one of the UK’s biggest Brussels sprout farms.
Scottish outfit Drysdales, based at Cockburnspath in Berwickshire, has produced sprouts, swedes and leeks for the past 30 years.
As one of the main producers in Britain, the run up to Christmas sees staffing numbers tripled from 150 to 450.
‘It’s the busiest time of the year’
The farm currently grows 19 established varieties of sprouts, with another 14 in development.
Unbelievably, it grows and distributes no fewer than 617 million sprouts in December alone. The UK sprout industry has an annual valued of £650million.
Sprouts plants cover 1,000 acres of fields, at the £1.6m processing base which is a supplier for most major supermarkets.
According to farming and facilities director Ian McLachlan, around 33 per cent of Drysdales’ production takes place in December.
“It’s the busiest time of the year,” he confirmed, “we’ll harvest a third in the month of December.
“There’s less of a demand for sprouts at barbecues in the summer but we do supply all year round.
“Things will quieten down a bit on Christmas Eve with December 23 being the biggest shopping day for supermarkets.”
Planting happens in April and May, and the harvest starts in August and finishes in April when the next new crop is planted.
Only 40 per cent of sprouts plants are harvested, with the rest put back into the soil. Soil samples are carried out to ensure the earth is suitable for growing vegetables.
Mr McLachlan, who started at Drysdales as a 14-year-old in 1984 and later spent ten years in the Royal Navy and five years working for another supplier admitted being a big fan of the Christmas dinner staple.
“I like them either roasted or boiled,” he said, “and believe they should be the last thing to be cooked.”