Growing Brussels Sprouts
Nutty, Little Cabbages for Your Holiday Meals
Subspecies: Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera
Brussels sprouts look like little heads of cabbage, but are actually the equivalent of buds that grow in between the leaves and the stem. Some varieties of Brussels sprouts can grow to three feet in height and produce sprouts that are almost two inches in diameter.
It’s common to think it is pronounced “brussel sprouts” but it is actually spelled “Brussels sprouts”, a name it got due to its popularity in Brussels, Belgium, even though the plant is native to the Mediterranean region along with other cabbages.
When growing Brussels sprouts the color can range from light green to a dark green and even red.
Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, calcium and potassium. Brussels sprouts are also great sources of healthy carbohydrates rich in dietary fiber.
They are most flavorful after first fall frost, when quickly harvested, then steamed, boiled, or stir-fried. When growing Brussels sprouts, keep plantings moist and deeply mulched during mid-summer, and plants may produce sprouts until late fall.
Read on for our full guide on how to grow Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts grown from seed should be planted in late spring. Brussels sprouts seeds can be planted up until mid-June for a continuous harvest. Soil needs to be around 70° – 80°F for adequate germination to occur within 4 – 7 days. Plant seeds at a depth of ¼ – ½ inch. There should be 15 – 18 inches between seedlings and 32 – 36 inches between rows.
Brussels sprouts seeds should be planted by April for May transplants. Transplant to the garden when the seedlings are 4 – 6 weeks old.
Use a light fertilizer, saturating the root ball before transplanting.
Plant roots lay very close to the surface and cultivation with tools should be avoided. Weeds and moisture content should be managed with thorough mulching.
To prevent spreading of root and soil disease, Brussels sprouts and other cole crops should not be planted in the same location without a 3 year break between cole family vegetables.
A late season variety is Diablo. It produces tall plants with a good yield of medium sized sprouts. The sprouts are sturdy and perform well under a variety of conditions.
Nautic is a long season variety perfect for late fall harvesting. Nautic tolerates cold weather and the sprouts are very flavorful. It is a relatively large plant and will produce high yields in cold weather.
Remove Cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage. Row covers need to be removed from the plant rows once summer temperatures are consistently above 78°F.
A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done before the sun is directly overhead so plants will not be scorched.
If Cabbage Root Maggots are present the plants will show wilting and may eventually die. Plants should be cleaned and transplanted.
Diatomaceous earth and row covers can be used to control flea beetles.
Protect plants from cutworms with the use of cardboard rings or collars.
Keep Brussels sprouts in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or colander with a lid.