Sown on April Fools' Day, eaten at Christmas

Love them or hate them, they are an integral part of the British Christmas.

COLD COMFORT: Frost enhances the flavour of sprouts.

Sprouts are not all that difficult to cultivate; as long as the space is available – even the most cack-handed of gardeners should be able to grow them – and they taste a better than shop-bought versions.

It’s far too late to grow your own sprouts for this week’s festive culinary bonanza, but if it really is taste you want – make a note in the new diary in your stocking. On the space allocated for April 1 (no fooling), just write the word ‘sprouts’.

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Nowadays it’s possible to buy sprout plants – small, individual specimens which you can grow on to become mature specimens. Sow the seed in early April; you should get a monumental number of seedlings from just one packet, and unless you have plenty of space and a real love for the taste of sprouts, go easy.

Sprouts like a decent soil – not too acidic, reasonably well-drained and a site protected from strong winds. Transplant the seedlings when they are still quite small (about 4ins high) and have two or three proper leaves and space them all least 18ins apart in rows.

Some gardeners stake their sprouts to give them more stability; others just rely on the inherent strength in the plant’s stem.

And as frost actually enhances the flavour of sprouts, you don’t worry about the weather in winter.