Quick Guide to Growing Brussels Sprouts

  • Plant Brussels sprouts during the cool temperatures of early spring and early fall.
  • Brussels sprouts need room to spread out, so space them 18- 24 inches apart in an area that gets 6 or more hours of sun daily and has well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.8.
  • Before planting, improve native soil by mixing in several inches of compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Check soil moisture regularly and give plants 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly.
  • Encourage an abundant harvest by feeding Brussels sprouts regularly with a continuous-release plant food.
  • Lay down a 3-inch layer of mulch to retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
  • Harvest when heads are firm and green. They should be 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Like most vegetables, Brussels sprouts need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily; more is better. They like fertile, well-drained, moist soils with plenty of organic matter. The soil pH should be on the high side of the range for vegetables, about 6.8, for optimum growth and to discourage clubroot disease. To be sure about pH, get the soil tested. You can buy a test kit at a well-stocked garden center, or have a soil test done through your regional Cooperative Extension office. Apply fertilizer and lime using the results of the soil test as a guide. In the absence of a soil test, incorporate plenty of nitrogen-rich amendments (like blood meal, cottonseed meal, or composted manure) in the soil, or mix in aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil to add nutrition and improve the texture of your native soil. For best results in your garden, though, don’t stop at the soil. Growing plants need a steady supply of high-quality nutrition, too, so feed them regularly with a continuous-release fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules, which feeds the beneficial microbes in the soil in addition to nourishing your plants. Be sure to follow all label directions.

Brussels sprouts also need more boron than most other vegetables. Boron is a plant nutrient used in minute quantities by all plants; without it, Brussels sprouts develop hollow stems and small buds. If your plants have shown these symptoms, you can add boron to the soil by dissolving 1 level tablespoon of borax (such as 20 Mule Team from the grocery shelf) in 5 quarts of water and sprinkling it evenly over 50 square feet of bed. DO NOT be tempted to mix more because too much causes problems. Also, do not apply unless your plants have shown the deficiency symptoms we just mentioned.

For your best chance at garden success, skip the seeds and start instead with strong, vigorous Bonnie Plants®. Set the young plants at the spacing noted on the label. Brussels sprouts get large, so they need to be about 18 to 24 inches apart in a row or bed. If planted in rows, space rows 30 inches apart to give yourself enough room to walk. Don’t let seedlings sit around for long, dry out, or get stunted in their pack. Plant right away.

Water thoroughly after planting to encourage good growth, then mulch to keep the ground cool and moist. Water regularly, applying 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week if plants don’t receive enough rain.

Brussels sprouts are really delicious, tasting like a mild and firm cabbage—which is basically what they are! While Brussels sprouts are available year-round in our global food economy, they are really at their peak in the Northern Hemisphere in the late summer and fall months, which is why they are a cornerstone of fall cooking in the United States.

Like hearty, green leafy things like kale, collards, broccoli, and arugula (rocket), Brussels sprouts are part of the brassica family. As such, they tolerate cold well and taste more delicious after a frost or two (some say they’re even better after a hard freeze!), so they are suitable for most growing zones in the U.S. You can make Brussels sprouts part of your fall cooking next year by getting started with planning for planting Brussels sprouts now.

Lucky for you, Brussels sprouts are rather easy to grow, although they do have a long growing season of about four to six months. Read on to learn more about how to grow Brussels sprouts in your garden!

Planting Brussels Sprouts

Almanac recommends starting seeds six to eight weeks before the last spring frost or sowing four months before first fall frost. This is likely May-June, depending on your USDA zone.

When transplanting seedlings or starts they will need to be 12-36 inches apart—so hopefully, you have ample space in your garden or garden boxes! Gardening Know How suggests that they are best grown from starts to ensure longevity and durability in warmer months.

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Growing Anything shares the following basic planting details for Brussels sprouts:

  • Planting depth: about 1 inch
  • Spacing in rows: about 16-24 inches
  • Days to germination: 5-10 days

Brussels sprouts are heavy feeders, requiring supplemental natural phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers as well as plenty of water. Growing Anything recommends kelp or other organic fertilizers during germination and once or twice a month during growth stages. Be sure to keep the soil moist with frequent watering and choose a mulch to conserve soil moisture.

If you are in USDA Zone 4-7, your Brussels sprouts are not likely going to survive through the winter, although they might do well in a greenhouse. Warmer zones (zones 8 and above) should have no problem growing through the winter months.

Growing Brussels Sprouts In Containers

Don’t have a full garden? Brussels sprouts can also be grown in pots. This tutorial explains that because Brussels sprouts are so large, they need a large container, like a 5 to 7-gallon pot or bucket. Choose a spot that is sunny but not too windy; they are quite top-heavy, so wind can knock them down.

Even when planting in pots, it’s a good idea to stake up your plants. Brussels can be grown indoors, although they do need ample sunlight (at least six hours each day) in order to thrive.

Harvesting And Storing Brussels Sprouts

Once most of the Brussels sprouts have reached about 1-2 inch in diameter, you can harvest the stalk at the base. You can also harvest individual heads, as the bottom ones will likely mature faster than the top. Use a sharp knife to remove from the stalk.

To ensure a better harvest, Mike at Garden’s Alive suggests “topping” the plant once it’s late in the season: This ensures that the plant gives all its energy into producing tastier sprouts from the bottom up. Brussels sprouts are annuals, so take the time to plant them right on the first planting, as they won’t carry over until next season.

Before bringing your harvest inside, be sure to check for pests—I’ve often found aphids and other critters living inside the top layer, sometimes quite deep into the sprout—even from store-bought sprouts!

Kitchn recommends not washing your harvest before storing, as this can damage your Brussels sprouts. Your sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator in a loose plastic wrap or a resealable plastic bag for about five days. Although other sites suggest much longer—up to three weeks!

Sprouts should have firm, tight heads, so if you find them wilting in storage, be sure to use them quickly. If you have a huge harvest, you can freeze your Brussels sprouts by washing, blanching, and then freezing. If possible, you can harvest the whole stalk, which will keep them fresher for longer.

It’s also important to note that the leaves of these big plants are edible, too. Just like broccoli and cauliflower, the leaves are often discarded in favor of the other parts of the plants, but these hearty, leafy greens are excellent sliced and sautéed instead of kale or collards.

Common Pests

It’s recommended that you don’t plant your Brussels sprouts in the same area as other cabbages or kales. Keeping those crops far apart will ensure soil health and reduce the incidence of pests. Consider companion planting your Brussels sprouts with beets. Beets provide the soil with essential minerals that Brussels sprouts need to thrive.

Since Brussels sprouts are top heavy like kale and collards, they will likely thrive with some stakes or other supports to keep them upright and happy. Practicing crop rotation is a great way to ensure that pests do not stick around.

Like other Brassicas, Brussels sprouts are susceptible to aphids, downy mildew, cabbage moths and other pests. Watch your seedlings closely to ensure none of these set in to damage your future sprout crop.

So, whether you want a cool crop to keep you busy during the gardening off-months, or you want to provide your family with lots of healthy greens, consider growing Brussels sprouts!

Brussels sprouts grow slowly in cool weather, which may make them seem less than ideal for containers, which tend to be dry, warm environments. However, they can do well in containers and there are even advantages. For example, hot temperatures (over 80° F) can hinder Brussels sprouts. However, containers can be moved out of the direct sun during the hotter parts of summer. Containers are also good for preventing pests and controlling the water and nutrients your plants receive. Here’s how to grow Brussels sprouts in containers.

BEST CONTAINERS FOR GROWING BRUSSELS SPROUTS
Brussels sprouts do best in large pots. They’ll need at least 8 inches of soil depth but a 5 gallon container or larger is best for each plant. If you are growing multiple plants in even larger containers, allow 24-30 inches of space between them. Be sure each container drains well; add drainage holes if necessary. Because Brussels sprouts tend to prefer cooler temperatures, it’s best to choose light colored containers, which will help to keep the soil from becoming too warm.

WHEN TO PLANT
Brussels sprouts taste best when matured in cool weather and should be grown in temperatures ranging from 45° F to 75° F. They will tolerate temperatures as low as 20° F but it’s best not to expose them to such extremes very often. Depending on your growing zone, you may be able to plant in the early spring, fall or even over the winter. They usually take usually 3 to 4 months to mature after planting. Check your mature dates to make sure that your Brussels sprouts will not be maturing in warm weather or they will taste bitter.

WHERE TO PUT THE CONTAINERS
The “fog belt” of the northwest United States is considered the ideal region in which to grow Brussels sprouts. However, they can be grown just about anywhere provided they receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day and are not exposed to hot temperatures for very long. Container grown Brussels sprouts do well just about anywhere, even in partial shade in hot climates. Learn the shade patterns of your garden and place them accordingly.

SOIL
Use loose, well-drained soil that has been enriched with mature compost. Container grown Brussels sprouts will not be able to reach out for the nutrients they need and the best way to ensure a healthy crop is to get them started in rich, fertile soil. The soil pH should be about 6.8.

SOWING SEEDS
You may choose to sow your seeds indoors to get a head start, particularly if you have a short growing season. They can also be direct sown into their larger containers and thinned to the healthiest plant(s). Be sure to follow the instructions on the seed packet for your specific variety, but most will need to be sown ½ inch deep and 2 inches apart. Sow about 3 seeds per 5 gallon container at the center of your pot and thin to the healthiest one once they reach about 5-7 inches tall. Need some seeds? Check out this selection of awesome Brussels sprouts seeds.

TRANSPLANTING SEEDLINGS
If you need to transplant your seedlings into larger containers, do so when they have about 5 true leaves or after about 6 weeks. Be sure to transplant only one per container or with 24-30 inches of space between them in larger containers. Transplant just after watering into moist soil. Plant them deep, up to the first set of leaves. Water and feed just after transplanting.

WATERING
Brussels sprouts grown in containers need to be watered regularly. Never let the soil dry out – it should be kept moist but never soggy. Water at the base of each plant and in the morning to help avoid mildew and other disease. Lay off the watering just a bit as the heads begin to mature.

FERTILIZING
Container grown Brussels sprouts need a light feeding every other week or so. At the very least, they should be fed after transplanting and again at mid season. Side dress them with a compost tea or organic liquid fertilizer that contains boron.

PRUNING
Remove any yellow leaves as the plants develop and as you begin to harvest.

HARVESTING
Brussels sprout heads are ready when they reach 1-2 inches in diameter. They will be firm and green. Twist them off carefully by hand. For fall harvest, keep picking right up until the first hard frost. Heads matured and harvested in hot weather will taste bitter but those harvested after a nip of frost are often the best. Harvest on sunny days once frosts begin to occur overnight.

Do you have tips on how to grow Brussels sprouts in containers? Let us know in the comments below! Also check out the Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts on our sister site, Eat This!

Become An Expert On How To Grow Brussel Sprouts

Learn how to grow Brussel Sprouts successfully and you will really enjoy eating them. Firm, fertile soil is essential for a tightly packed Brussel Sprout vegetable.

If you are serving up loose, open sprouts to your loved ones, then – this hurts me to say – but you are to blame… ouch! ‘Blown’ brussels sprouts have virtually no flavour so it is not surprising that your family turns their noses up and would prefer to take a dose of cod liver oil instead.

Just take a little time to learn how to grow brussel sprouts and it will pay you back with loads of fresh, tasty brussels sprouts.

So don’t despair – chin up old chap or chappess – follow the instructions and cultuvation tips on how to grow brussel sprouts below, then steam or boil them for just a few minutes to serve them crisp and tasty.

You don’t want those ‘school dinner’ type sprouts that have had all their colour and crispness boiled out of them. You can even dice or grate your brussel sprouts raw and serve them up in a salad – go on, be brave :0).

Learning how to grow brussel sprouts should not be a disappointment to you now we have the modern F1 hybrids. Many of the old favourite, non hybrid varieties have been left behind by the F1’s because of their non uniform growth habit and their ability to ‘blow’ quite quickly if not picked promptly.

Whilst F1 brussel sprouts do have a tendency to mature all at the same time, nevertheless the plant holds their mature buttons for many weeks without opening. This is how to grow Brussel Sprouts for a successful crop if your just a beginner as the outcome is a bit more certain.

But once you have become an expert on how to grow brussel sprouts – why not try one or two plants of an older, non hybrid variety to experience the difference in taste and growth habit… it all adds to your knowledge and enjoyment of vegetable gardening.

Ok… that’s the intro over – let’s get our hands dirty and if you’re just starting to learn how to grow brussel sprouts – even better.

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts – Soil Details

As mentioned above, when learning how to grow brussel sprouts it is important to remember they require a firm, fertile soil as the main cause of failure (blown buttons) is loose, infertile soil. This is where a fairly heavy soil is an advantage to the vegetable grower.

Using the three year crop rotation is ideal as you can plant them where peas and beans grew the previous year as their soil would have had manure or compost dug in. If that was the case, no more need be dug in.

If that is not the case and your soil is poor, dig in plenty of well rotted compost or manure as early in the autumn as possible in order to give the the soil maximum time to settle.

This gives time for the essential firmness to establish, whilst having that all important fertility… remember – feed the soil not the plant – an essential first tip if you are just starting to learn how to grow brussel sprouts.

Thats me in the photo… just about to have breakfast mmmMMM – lets hear it for living soil!

Acid soils encourage club root, a terrible disease of the brassica family which gardeners fear, so make sure you add lime to get a pH of about 6.5 to 7.0 – this is not rocket science.

For those who want to know how to grow brussel sprouts without the guesswork just get yourself a pH meter or soil testing kit and follow the instructions. It’s always a sensible move to get to know all the facts you can about your soil.

Apply a dressing of a general fertiliser like Growmore in the spring, two or three weeks before planting out. Don’t dig it in but rake gently over the surface as you will want to keep the bed firm.

Sowing Seed

Brussels sprouts are quite often raised in an outdoor seed bed for transplanting into their permanent beds later. Again a very fertile soil is required to give the plants a good start.

But as you will read further down the page you will learn how to grow brussel sprouts by sowing into seed trays for transplanting into their permanent positions – this is my prefered way.

Making A Seed Bed

In early spring rake over and level the area you have chosen as a seed bed – frosts will have done a lot of the work of breaking down the larger clods of earth for you by then… hopefully. If you only require a few plants then this need not be too big an area.

Cover the bed with sifted mature compost – the bed may be small enough to purchase a bag or two from your garden centre, especially if you’re only just getting to know how to grow brussel sprouts you might not have the organic matter to compost.

Tamp this down with the back of your rake to make it firm… but only when the soil is dry enough i.e. not sticking to your boots. Then lightly rake it over to produce a fine tilth.

Mark out the rows using string stretched between two stakes for a straight line and make shallow drills along the length of the string with a trowel or the edge of a hoe 13mm(1/2″) deep and rows 15cm(6″) apart. Sow the seed thinly into the drills and cover them over with soil, lightly firming with the head of the rake.

Mark both ends of the row, labelling one end with the variety and date of sowing. Keep the seed bed moist, always use a fine spray.

When the brussels sprout plants are about 2.5cm(1″) tall, thin the seedlings to about 7.5cm(3″) apart in the rows. This is to stop overcrowding thus causing the seedlings to become weak and spindly.

The seedlings are ready to plant out when they are about 10cm(4″) to 15cm(6″) tall. Water the bed the previous day before removing them to their permanent position.

When your learning how to grow brussel sprouts there is no need to remember which varietiesto grow: early or late etc. Part of the enjoyment of growing vegetables is to get hold of some of those amazing seed catalogues (they’re sent out free) and get to know what is available

Then make your choice… especially around a nice cosy fire. The anticipation really energises you for the coming spring.

But as a rule-of-thumb:

  • Sow early varieties outdoors in mid March, transplanting in mid May. This will give a crop of brussels sprouts during October and November.
  • For an earlier crop (September), sow seeds under cloches in early March and plant out in early May.
  • Sow late varieties outdoors in April and transplant in June. This will produce brussels sprouts between December and March.

Sowing Seed Into Trays

As ever, when growing any vegetable, there are other ways to achieve the same outcome. So if you have a greenhouse, cold frame or cloches – growing brassicas (sprouts, cabbage etc. family) from seed can be made easier and more convenient if you don’t have a large garden to accommodate a seed bed.

So if you have a greenhouse, cold frame or cloches – growing brussel sprouts from seed can be made easier and more convenient if you don’t have a large garden to accomodate a seed bed.

Sow brussels sprout seed in a tray filled with seed compost bought from your local gardening centre. Water thoroughly and place them inside one of the above (cloche etc…).

When the first two leaves have formed prick them out into 7.5cm(3″) pots filled with potting compost. Plant them into these pots a little deeper – to just below the two leaves – water in well.

Leave plants to grow on until tall enough for planting out by following the growing instructions above.

For a more detailed description of how to grow brussel sprouts by sowing seed into trays click here – Starting Vegetable Seeds – This will open the webpage into a new window.

Planting Out

The place chosen as your permanent bed for your brussels sprouts can be in full sun or partial shade, partial shade is better. Water plants the day before you aim to transplant them into that well-firmed bed prepared last autumn – all ready to settle down to the long growth to maturity.

Transplant brussels sprout plants in the evening to minimise distress and to make a quicker recovery – keep as much soil around the roots as you can.

Use two stakes with string stretched between them like you did on the seed bed, to mark out a straight line. Make a hole with a trowel or dibber large enough to take the root ball. Plant the seedlings to just below the two lowest leaves.

If you’re just starting to learn how to grow brussel sprouts and you want to be a bit geeky, these leaves are called cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’.

Firm the soil around each plant with your hands or the dibber. Remember – firm planting helps to grow firm, tight brussels sprouts.

Note Well… an important point to remember when learning how to grow brussel sprouts is that transplanting is necessary. Planting out seedlings from pots or seed beds encourages a stronger root system to be established in their permanent bed.

The spacing is important but it does not have to be wasted space. Plant quick-growing crops in between like lettuce, salad leaves and many others.

The way to get the best out of any plant, especially if you’re just beginning to learn how to grow brussel sprouts, is to regularly observe their growing characteristics. You’ll notice what time of the season potential pests and diseases begin to appear or when staking is required, and best of all – the optimum time to harvest.

Caring for Your Brussels Sprout Plants

Hoe regularly to keep down weeds but don’t loosen the soil to deeply – a firm bed… remember! – in fact earth up around the plant stems from time to time and firm the soil down to help support the brussels sprout plant as it gets taller.

Water the young plants in dry weather but unless you have a prolonged dry spell the mature plants should’nt need watering – this is because you have prepared the bed properly… right!

One major enemy of your attempt to grow vegetables are birds – especially in country gardens, they particularly seem to like brussels sprout plants. Protect the smaller plants from sparrows and the bigger mature plants from wood pigeons… but only do so when you see signs of attack.

Apply a foliar feed during summer as the plants respond very well to this. Far more nutrients are absorbed than by feeding at the roots.

Two other menaces that can have a bad impact on your plants are caterpillars and aphids. See ways of dealing with these pests below under ‘Pest Control’.

As the plants get taller make sure you support them so that the strong winds in winter don’t blow them over – tie them to stakes. The old practice of pinching out the growing tip to hasten maturity is no longer recommended.

Mulch around the base of the plants with well rotted compost to feed the plants and conserve moisture.

Don’t get too anxious, as you learn how to grow Brussel Sprouts and gain experience then most of this will become second nature to you and you will become naturally aware. There you go, you didn’t think you could be a ‘naturally aware’ person, did you! :0)

Pest Control

Mealy Aphids are a serious pest when growing brassicas – they will weaken the plants and introduce viruses which further weaken the plants. Insecticide control is a confusing area these days so you will need to check this out with your garden center or nursery – pointless trying to be definitive here, change id here to stay… Eggs of the Large White butterfly. Caterpillars can defoliate a plant quickly so watch out for them. Inspect the underside of the leaves for clusters and squish them. Practice your tennis strokes when the butterfly is about. Best to put netting over them if your new to or just learning how to grow brussel sprouts. Caterpillar of the Small White butterfly. Defoliates plants quickly, watch out for them. Pick off and destroy, use a nematode spray or spray with an insecticide that your nursery recommends. Eggs are laid under leaves in a random way, not in clusters, nor are they brightly coloured. Again, net the plants.

Knowing how to grow brussel sprouts to minimise pest problems will mean following some sort of crop rotation plan. This simply means not growing vegetables of the same family in the same piece of earth year after year…it encourages pest build up and nutrient depletion in the soil.

Pick a reasonably sunny spot for the site where you are growing cabbages. If you can, use a site where peas and beans (Legumes) where grown the previous year, if you dug in manure or compost for them then no more is required.

For brussel sprouts this means – Broccoli, Cabbage, Kohl Rabi, Turnip, Cauliflower. Whether you are a seasoned vegetable grower or you are just starting to learn how to grow Brussel Sprouts or any vegetable – pests and diseases don’t care… so get to know your enemy.

Cabbage Root Fly…

can be a problem so use protective discs (see photo on right) at the base of the growing Brussels Sprout plants – they lay their eggs in the soil at this point.

These can be made from old bits of hessian backed carpet, underlay or roofing felt – use your imagination. Also cover with gardening fleece when the plants are young. Fleece is a great friend to the gardener, it allows rain and light through but insulates against frost and deters pests.

Caterpillars…

left unattended will devastate your Brussel Sprout plants. They feed on the underside of the leaves and the best answer is to just pick them off and… squish ’em. They also lay their eggs there too so look for yellow clusters aannndddd… squish ’em.

If you you haven’t the time to keep squishing – or the stomach (sorry but this all has to do with learning how to grow brussel sprouts), then use ‘Just Caterpillar’. It uses nematodes to provide an environmentally safe and efficient treatment which can be watered straight onto edible plants. Use ‘Just Caterpillar’ once they are seen on the plant, preferably whilst they are still small, and the nematodes will quickly seek out the caterpillar and kill it. Get it from your garden centre.

Club Root…

is a fungus and all brassicas (that’s the family umbrella for cabbages along with broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnip, cauliflower) can be affected.

The roots become stubby and swollen. Leaves become yellow and wilt causing severe stunting of growth. This causes swelling and reduces the flow of water and nutrients to the plant. Spores are produced and can survive in the soil for up to five years.

Prevent club root by practicing crop rotation and take extreme care if you buy in seedlings from outside as this is often the way this fungus is introduced.

Reducing the acidity of the soil by adding lime will help.

Aphids…

can be a serious pest by weakening your plants and introducing viruses. Try planting Marigolds or Tagetes amongst the crop. They attract beneficial insects like hover flies and lady birds which feed on the aphids and will help reduce the infestation – yet another aspect of learning how to grow Brussel Sprouts and other garden vegetables is to understand how nature can be used to benefit your environment.

Spraying is the only way to have a real impact on badly infested plants. Major changes have taken place in the UK and Europe concerning the availability of pesticides during recent years. Visit your garden center or nursery and seek their advice as what to use.

Flea Beetles…

are tiny beetles that can make sieves out of your brassica leaves. When you touch the Brussels Sprout leaves they ping off just like regular fleas, only these won’t bite you! To deter them:

  • Use horticultural fleece placed over your brussels sprouts, as soon as you transplant them outside; a floating row cover.
  • Lightly hoe over the soil regularly to destroy eggs and larvae and expose them to predators.
  • Give your plants a midday shower with the hose (not in full sun though), as they’re most active then and they don’t like wet conditions.
  • Try ‘Companion Planting’, to attract the beneficial insects.

Harvesting Brussels Sprouts

Start picking when the sprouts or ‘buttons’ are about the size of a walnut and are still solid and compact. Begin at the base of the stem and work upwards only taking a few brussels sprout buttons from each stem at a time. They can be snapped off with your fingers or cut off with a sharp knife.

Remove any yellowing leaves or ‘blown’ sprouts as you go and don’t leave any hanging about on the ground which attract slugs.

Once all the sprouts have been harvested you can let the ‘tops’ grow for a little longer and use them like cabbage. These are delicious and tender.

When everything is used dig up the stem and dispose of it. I shred mine and add it to the compost heap. Alternatively mash it with a hammer and then add it to your compost heap.

Once you have learned how to grow Brussel Sprouts the knowledge gained will apply to many other vegetables, so turn your expertise to growing other veg also.

The picture on the left indicates that the brussel sprout buttons are not the only part of the plant that you can use for cooking. Once all the sprouts are picked leave them in the ground for a while longer and let the tops sprout – they are very tender and delicious.

The picture on the right shows a bowl of homemade minestrone soup that Ros made incorporating the sprout tops – wohoooo! it was delish.

This soup was made from a Weight Watchers recipe (I’m hoping to get into my bikini this year ;0) ), only one point per serving for those that know about these things – it’s a win win situation. Give them a try.

You now know how to grow brussel sprouts – it’s up to you to put it into practice. Remember you don’t need to have everything ‘just right’ because you won’t… there are too many variables.

Just follow this guide and get out there and do it – you will absolutely learn from your experiences. Remember, remember even the most experienced gardeners have failures… and they’re honest about it too.

All the best – and have a great life – from me and Freddie the frog

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Red Rubine Brussels Sprouts History

Red Rubine Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleraea gemmifera ‘Rubine’) are unique, colorful plants that produce an abundant harvest of striking, reddish-purple sprouts. The plants are tall, reaching heights of 3.25 feet (1 m.) at maturity. There are many good reasons to plant Red Rubine Brussels sprouts. The plants aren’t difficult to grow, they’re beautiful in the garden, and cooks appreciate the gourmet sprouts for their rich, nutty flavor.

Rubine Brussels Sprout History

Botanists think Brussels sprouts were first grown in Medieval Europe, specifically the area currently known as Belgium. However, Brussels sprouts weren’t introduced to North America until the mid-nineteenth century.

The beautiful color of Red Rubine Brussels sprouts was created by crossing Brussels sprouts with red cabbage. The plant dates to about 1954, so although it is relatively new, its age qualifies as an heirloom plant. However, true heirloom plants are open pollinated and never hybridized.

Growing Heirloom Brussels Sprouts

Growing Red Rubine Brussels sprouts is no different than growing any other type of Brussels sprouts. However, this particular type of Brussels sprouts takes a little longer to ripen than traditional green varieties, and the yield may be smaller. For this reason, Red Rubine is often grown for its ornamental value.

Like all Brussels sprouts, Red Rubine is a cool weather plant that requires fertile, well-drained soil, regular fertilizer and consistent moisture. Locate Brussels sprouts where the plants receive at least six hours of sunlight per day, preferably more.

Pick Red Rubine Brussels sprouts when they’re firm and measuring about an inch (2.5 cm.) in diameter. Pick from the bottom of the plant so the small sprouts at the top will continue to mature.

Brussels Sprouts Companion Plants – What To Grow With Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are members of the Cruciferae family (which includes kale, cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and cauliflower). These cousins all do well as companion plants for Brussels sprouts simply because they have similar nutritional, water and light requirements. The downside of planting these relatives together is that they also share similar pests and diseases. Are there other Brussels sprouts companion plants that might be a better choice? Read on to find out.

Brussels Sprout Plant Companions

The nature of companion planting is situating one or more species of plants in close proximity to another for one or both benefit. While the Cruciferae gang may like to hang together in the garden, the fact that they share pests and disease problems makes them less than ideal companions for Brussels sprouts. In other words, if a disease tends to infect broccoli, it’s a good probability that it will take a liking to one or several of the other cole crops.

Introducing other Brussels sprout companion plants outside of the family will create diversity in the garden, which will make it less likely for diseases and pests to be spread around. The question is, what to grow with Brussels sprouts?

What to Grow with Brussels Sprouts?

Sure, some people are loners, but by the very nature of being human, most of us like a companion or two, someone to share our life with and help us when we need it. Plants are the same way; most of them do very well with companion plants and Brussels sprouts are no exception.

Brussels sprouts are a favorite of dozens of pests that include:

  • Aphids
  • Beetles
  • Thrips
  • Caterpillars
  • Cabbage loopers
  • Leafminers
  • Squash bugs
  • Beet armyworms
  • Cutworms

Aromatic Brussels sprout plant companions can help to ward off these pests and even attract beneficial insects, like ladybugsand parasitic wasps.

Some of these aromatic plants are pleasantly scented, such as basil and mint. Others are more pungent, like garlic, which is said to repel Japanese beetles, aphids and blight. Marigoldsare also said to deter pests and when they are tilled into the earth, they release a substance that repels nematodes. Nasturtiumsare another flower that companions well with Brussels sprouts and is said to repel squash bugs and whiteflies.

Interestingly, although many of the cole crops shouldn’t be planted too close together, mustardcan act as a trap crop. In other words, mustard planted near Brussels sprouts will attract the pests that normally feed on the sprouts. When you see that the insects are attacking the mustard, dig it up and remove it.

Other plants that companion well with Brussels sprouts include:

  • Beets
  • Bush beans
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Pea
  • Potato
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Tomato

Just as you like some people and dislike others, Brussels sprouts feel the same way. Don’t grow strawberries, kohlrabior pole beans near these plants.

Brussels Sprouts : Tips from Seed to Harvest

These nutritious miniature cabbages are often under celebrated and even disliked. Don’t give up on them just yet!

It is well worth noting that often store bought Brussels sprouts are picked too early, and it shows in their bitter flavor and tough texture. Picking them fresh from the farm or garden after a few frosts sweetens the flavor and makes them tender, offering a whole different experience!

Try them roasted, along with some other yummy fall veggies.

A Little History

As the name suggests these mini cabbages were first cultivated in Brussels. Like broccoli, its ancestors first grew wild in the low countries of Europe. The Belgians were the first to select the plant for its enlarged auxiliary buds.

Nutrition Facts

Brussels contain high amounts of vegetable protein and carbohydrates.

Growing Conditions

Brussels Sprouts are a cool weather crop that grow best at around 60-65° F. They are one of the last crops left in the garden and can even survive through the winter if the conditions are favorable. Generally treated like broccoli or cauliflower, Brussels sprouts prefer well-drained soil and do not require excessive nutrients. Too much nitrogen will make for lots of leaves but not so much on the sprouts. They want regular and generous watering (brassicas in general like having wet leaves, so water freely). Harvest usually begins around mid October and can go through the winter some years if you are just harvesting individuals sprouts rather than whole stalks.

Timing the Crop

Plant by seed in early April, usually indoors to allow for the best germination. Mid-May is about right for transplanting starts in to the garden in our climate. They don’t really like the heat but will survive through our hot summers, yielding a delightful harvest very late in the season. Exposure to a few frosts enhances the flavor of the sprouts.

Pruning Tricks

If any of the lower leaves of the plant show any yellowing, at once strip them off. (By the way: the younger, tender leaves can be cooked up much like collards or turnip greens, if that’s your idea of a good time.) Some growers remove all leaves to accelerate harvest, but that practice is not essential in the home garden, and not practical for us on the farm. Some believe that the sprouts develop better if the lowermost six to eight leaves are removed from the sides of the stalk as the sprouts develop. Two or three additional leaves can be removed each week, but several of the largest, healthiest, fully expanded upper leaves should always be left intact on top to continue feeding the plant. Another practice is topping, or cuttiing off the growing tip of the plant when the sprouts are present but immature. See photo above for an example of where to cut. Some sources say that is not critical for home growers, but others swear that it is utterly essential for good production. Late August to mid September, or 3 weeks before the first harvest, is the best time to prune the tops in our region. The reason for doing it is to send the remaining energy of the plant in to sizing up your sprouts rather the in to creating new leaf growth. We do prune the tops of our sprouts in September.

This is a Brussels sprout plant in mid-August. We’ll prune the top in mid September to stimulate larger sprouts in late fall. Cut where the line is on the photo.

Harvesting

As the sprouts come ready, harvest them from the bottom up, which is how they mature (the all-at-once harvesting of agribusiness is one reason store-bought samples taste so bad). Keep them picked and they’ll grow more! Harvest sprouts in the home garden after the first or second frost, taking just those sprouts which are big enough, starting from the bottom up. Continue harvesting for as long as you can find more to pick, which might even be well into snow season. Once plants begin to set sprouts, they can become a bit top-heavy and could be prone to wind damage (or even be blown over). Many suggest staking the plants or hilling up soil around the stems to support them; we have never had any problem with unstaked plants here at the farm.

Overwintering and Storing

Brussels can be overwintered in the garden, right on the stalk. They need to be mulched, or covered with a structure wrapped with burlap, before the hard freeze. Mulching helps to keep them at an even temperature and prevents the constant thaw/freeze which promotes rot. For mulch you can pile straw or hay in a mound around the plants, and/or cover with a cardboard box or a similar structure used for covering shrubs in winter. Some years, the snow falls perfectly to make this happen naturally. When the snow falls deep before a freeze, it forms an insulated refrigerator right around your plants! To store Brussels sprouts, keep them in the fridge for at least a few weeks. Remember to cull the yellowed or blackened leaves often, and give the bottom (stalk end) a fresh cut. Compost all those food scraps!

Gardening Tips Gardening brassica brussels sprouts garden harvest mulch nutrition over-wintering pruning soil health storage transplanting

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