Brassica oleracea gemmifera, or Brussels sprouts as commonly called, originated from Brussels in Belgium in the 16th century. It is a cold,climate-loving plant that grows its best in cool weather. Not to say, you cannot grow one in warmer climates, but its ideal condition is more frigid weather. Just like kale, they produce bitter veggies when the weather is warm. In this feed we ll get to know How to Grow Brussels Sprouts and Care for them.
Talking about bitterness, this is the primary reason we hated Brussels sprouts as kids, didn’t you? How we moved from hating this crunchy cabbage-like veggie as kids to loving them as adults is still a mystery. If you would like to break that tradition and make your kids love it as you do, this guide will show you how.
Brussels sprout is a slow-growing annual plant packed with nutrients. It is native to the Mediterranean region but has adapted to the other areas as well. Follow me through this Brussels sprouts growing guide.
The Brussels sprouts have 110 different varieties, which may become a challenge when you want to grow your plant. Let me make it easier by showing you some of the popular species.
- Brigitte F1: Undoubtedly, the most famous Brussels sprout species. It is a hybrid variety and is highly recommended because the sprouts stay closed for longer, letting you enjoy a broader harvesting season. They also have high disease resistance capabilities making it easier for novice gardeners to handle.
- Early half tall: This is a dwarf non-hybrid variety that grows to about 2 ½’ tall. It is easy to grow and matures faster than most species. Sprouts can be ready as early as August in you sow between March/April. However, extra care needs to be taken when harvesting during warmer weather.
- Bedford: This variety produces large dark green sprouts from medium-sized plants. The Bedford species usually take longer to mature about 36 weeks. Sow seeds between March and April for a harvesting period between December and February.
- Noisette: Unlike the Bedford species, this variety produces smaller sprouts. What they lack in size, they make up for in taste. They are a tasty species when fried.
Uses of Brussels Sprouts
Like I stated earlier, Brussels sprouts are packed with nutrients and can be used in several ways.
- They are low in calories but high in fiber
- They are rich in antioxidants, which may help in the prevention of cancer
- Rich in folate, manganese, vitamins A, C, and K
- Can be used in stir-fries
- Contains ALA Omega 3-fatty acids
This slow-growing plant is relatively easy to grow and hardly requires extreme conditions to grow. Let’s look at some of the conditions that allow for optimum Brussels sprouts growth.
- Full Sun
The Brussels sprout vegetables grow best under full sun. It needs a place that receives about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.
- PH Levels
A slightly acidic soil pH level is required. PH of 6.5 to 6.8 is the ideal pH level. A soil test will give you an accurate level.
- Loamy Soil
A well-drained loamy soil rich in nutrients is the right soil type for planting Brussels sprouts. Especially nitrogen for its leaf growth
- Moist Soil
Brussels sprouts need consistently moist soil for its growth. Dryness can make it bitter, but too much water can cause root rot. Water the plant often but lightly to encourage optimum development of the Brussels sprouts.
- Cool Climate
This is a cool-season plant and needs to plant in cold regions. However, some varieties can grow in warmer climates, but their ideal area is a colder environment.
When to Plant Brussels Sprout?
After choosing the variety you would like to grow, knowing the right growing conditions, it is time to know when to plant. When is the right time to plant the Brussels sprouts?
Even though the different varieties have their ideal planting times, this vegetable’s best harvesting time is between September and February. The perfect planting time is between March and April.
How Long does it Take Brussels Sprout to Grow?
It takes between 21 and 36 weeks for the average Brussels variety to mature. Naturally, Brussels sprouts are slow-growing plants that’ll take a long time to develop. However, you can start harvesting earlier by picking the lower hanging vegetables as it starts maturing from the ground up, almost like the romaine lettuce where the otter leaves mature first.
Preparation is a crucial planting stage where you get everything ready for the actual planting.
- Choose a suitable land: You need to select a corner of your garden that receives the right amount of sunlight daily alongside a loamy, well-drained soil.
- Clear the land: After selecting the ground, you now need to clear the weed and debris land. You do not want to start growing on unsuitable land that’ll hinder the growth of your plant.
- Till the ground and make ridges: using hoes and rakes for smaller gardens, till the land loosens the soil and makes ridges for the plant.
- Work in fertilizer: Brussels sprouts need rich soil to grow, especially soil rich in nitrogen. It uses it for leaf formation and growth. Work in either organic or inorganic fertilizers. For organic fertilizers, consider animal waste and blood meal. If you’re going for inorganic fertilizers, then you should apply fertilizers rich in nitrogen.
How to Plant and Grow Brussels Sprouts
It is recommended to plant Brussels sprouts seedlings indoors first, before transplanting a few weeks later.
- Plant one seed per tray column and about ½ inch into the soil
- Water lightly for four weeks for transplanting
- Let the soil harden a few days before transplant by making watering less frequent
- Transplant the baby Brussels by planting 1 ½ inch into the ground and about 24 inches apart from each other
- If planting in rows, make the rows 30 inches apart from each other to allow for movement space
How to Care for Brussels Sprout
Now that you have planted, you’re closer to your crunchy plant than ever, but not so fast; you have to take care of it to get the best.
- Water Lightly
Water the plant lightly throughout its growing season. The plant needs about 1 ½ inch of water a week. You do not want a soggy ground.
- Apply Slow-Releasing Fertilizers
Because it is slow-growing, you need a fertilizer that can continue to release nutrients for a long time.
- Hedge the Plant During Autumn
The autumn wind can damage this plant, so you need to hedge it with soil to prevent it from being blown away. You can stake it to prevent the more massive plants from breaking.
- Work a Garden Fork into the Ground Every 4 Weeks
You want to aerate the soil by working in a garden fork around your plants to allow air to reach the Brussels root, which leads to the formation of larger sprouts.
- Rotate the Brussels Sprout Yearly
Brussels are heavy feeders, so rotating them yearly will help the soil regain its lost nutrients.
Pests and Diseases
These are the things standing in the way of you enjoying your hard work. You need to pay attention to them.
- Cabbage looper
- Imported cabbageworm
- Cabbage root maggot
- Harlequin bug
- Black rot
Crop rotation and increasing the pH to about seven can help in tackling some of these diseases.
Harvesting Brussels Sprout
Ninety days after transplanting, the plant should be ready for harvest. The sprouts grow from the bottom to the top of the spike and mature the same way. The shoots are prepared for harvest when green, firm, and about 2 inches in diameter, depending on the species.
Pick out the outer leaves to expose the sprout’s base, gently twist the sprout to remove it from the stalk.
These plants love light frosts as it enhances their flavor. It, however, cannot withstand full frost. Here’s what to do when winter is approaching; cut off the plant’s top about three weeks before you want to harvest. This will trick the sprouts into maturing all at once.
Store them in plastic bags in the refrigerator without washing. Remember, the fresher, the better. Get your kids to enjoy this yummy vegetable.
Here’s a trick to make your kids like this veggie, Get them more involved in the growing stage. Preparing sumptuous recipes with this vegetable will also help to change their opinions.
This cold season plant can quickly become a staple food in your home if you give it a chance.