Cruciferous vegetables have four petals on their flowers in the shape of a cross. (Mary Lowther photo)

Cruciferous vegetables have four petals on their flowers in the shape of a cross. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Yes, you can eat those bits of the plant too

These vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and kohlrabi

By Mary Lowther

Cruciferous vegetables get their name from the cross shape of the four petals in their flowers.

Also called “cole” crops, these vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and kohlrabi, and were all derived from the same plant, called wild cabbage or brassica. Our ancestors intervened, choosing some for their buds, others for their leaves and some for their stems. All parts above ground are edible, although my Sassenach husband wonders why anyone would ever develop kale. I know why — kale is hardy stuff that produces throughout our winters, never gets club root and reliably self seeds every year. Besides, it’s very nutritious.

It takes me a while to figure things out, but if all parts are edible (and they are), then I can safely eat all parts of every one that I grow, so cauliflower and broccoli leaves will be good, as will the buds of kale and cabbage if they get away on me. I’ve been conditioned by common usage to view these parts as compost, but not anymore. David and I enjoyed a few meals of broccoli leaves last year — well, I did anyway — I suspect his went back into the compost heap. After all that soil development and effort to grow great vegetables, it’s heartening to know I can eat all parts of these plants.

When I spent most of last year’s gardening season developing our new land down the road, I neglected my backyard garden and allowed whatever had gone to seed in the spring, to proliferate. I now have a fine crop of overwintered cross-pollinated cruciferous plants that probably resemble their ancestors. They’ve sent up budding stalks that have just begun flowering, attracting bees. Since they look so much like sprouting broccoli, I figured we should try some buds before they all flowered and went to seed. We did, and even David liked them. I picked some more for dinner today and once they’re all flowering I’ll let the bees have at them until they start going to seed, at which point I’ll cut them down and toss them into the compost heap. As hardy as they’ve been, I prefer the separate types that our ancestors developed and plan to use new seeds dedicated to these types.

By the way, these vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of several cancers.

Please contact with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


Just Posted

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read