Growing Brussels Sprouts

Growth habits and planting needs

The site chosen for planting should be protected from winds but get at least 6 hours of sunlight.

Prepare the bed at least two weeks before planting. To successfully grow Brussels sprouts make sure the soil is rich, friable and well drained with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.

Brussels sprouts need lots of nitrogen to grow strong stems and leaves so should follow nitrogen fixing legumes in the crop rotation cycle.  As well, they also should not be grown in the same place where  a member of the cruciferous family has been crown for at least 2 to 3 years.

Dig the soil over well to a depth of 30 cm and dig in a good amount of well rotted compost and aged manure thoroughly mixing it through.  Also dig in a handful of blood and bone and the same of sulphate of potash. Water in well and leave until planting.

Brussels sprouts are easy to transplant as seedlings. Sow the seeds in the seedling punnets about 1.5 cm deep and and plant out in 4-6 weeks. They can also be planted directly into the bed but 4 or 5 seeds should be planted together and thinned to the healthiest plant when the seedling has four to five true leaves. The seedlings should be kept moist but not too wet until transplanting.

The seedlings should be spaced 50-90 cm apart. Mulch away from the stem to conserve water in the soil and water well.

Side dress the plants with aged compost in 7-10 weeks.

About a month before harvesting, when the plant is about 40-50 cm tall remove the top buds and the lower leaves of the plant.

brussels-sprouts-plant-277190_1920
Brussels sprouts ready for harvesting – image CC0 Public Domain

Companion Planting:

  • Garlic to improve the flavour and and repel insects
  • Hyssop, mint, sage and land cress to protect against the white cabbage butterfly
  • Dill for growth
  • Onions inter planted to repel aphids which are a particular problem with Brussels sprouts
  • Nasturtiums are grown around the Brussels sprouts are also useful in repelling aphids and other pests

Harvesting

Brussels_Sprouts

Image courtesy : Visitor7 CC BY-SA Wikimedia

The Brussels sprouts mature  at about 14-28 weeks from planting. The leaves can also be cooked and are tender and sweet.

They are ready to pick from the bottom up the plant when the buds are small and about 2.5 -3.5 cm in diameter.

If you have  pinched out the top of the plant about a month earlier they will all come to maturity at the same time and the whole stem can be harvested at once and stored in a cool place.

Recipes:

IMG_20160414_150123-oven baked brussels sprouts 2

 Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 

 

 

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