Brussels Sprouts: My Perennial Decoy

A couple of years ago I planted brussels sprout seeds in the front garden where I don't usually plant anything edible except herbs and horseradish (the produce gardens are in the back). I figured I'd give the brussels sprouts a go and if they didn't work out then it was no big deal.

I didn't have great luck with the brussels sprouts as produce. The buds didn't stay tight enough to be appetizing for my husband (who is the only brussels sprout lover in this household). But the blue-green broad shiny leaves were pretty in the winter garden so I left them there. When they withered and died, I cut them off at the base and threw the withered remains into the green can. So much for brussel sprouts... so I thought.

It was only a couple of months and the brussels sprouts were coming back! Silly me! I thought brussels sprouts were annuals. Apparently, they are perennials. They grew back from the roots just like any good little perennial should. I thought maybe we'd have better success with the buds being tighter and more appetizing. Wait, wait, wait... no such luck.

But I noticed something else going on. The roses in my front garden no longer had very many aphids on them--even on the new growth that aphids love to attack. Some roses had NO APHIDS! But the brussels sprouts were covered with them!

Then I noticed something else. Often as I looked out the front window I would see little flocks of bushtits come down and land on the brussel sprouts to dine on the aphid-feast. The over 3 foot tall brussel sprouts have very sturdy stems, so many little birds could land and dine without any trouble at all.

I left the brussels sprouts in, thinking I had a great companion planting situation going on. I was right. This year I haven't had aphids on my roses. They all went to the brussels sprouts. I've also had the wonderful little bushtits as regular visitors dining on the aphids on the brussels sprouts.

And my ladybug count is higher this year than in any of the previous years so far without me injecting the population with store-bought ladybugs EVER.

The brussels sprouts are apparently here to stay. They aren't doing what I originally intended for them to do, but they're far more valuable as an aphid decoy than as produce plants anyway (in my non-brussels-sprout-loving opinion).

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