Plant Brussels sprouts so that they come to harvest in cool weather. Start seeds indoors 16 to 20 weeks before the last frost in spring. Set transplants in the garden 12 to 14 weeks before the last frost in spring.
In mild-winter regions plant Brussels sprouts in autumn for a winter or spring harvest. Brussels sprouts will reach maturity 80 to 90 days after transplanting and 100 to 110 days after seeds are sown. Planting from seed outdoors requires a very long, cool growing season.
Description. Brussels sprouts are a hardy member of the cabbage family and produce miniature cabbage-like heads 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The sprouts grow from a tall, heavy main stem surrounded by large green leaves.
Yield. Plant 1 to 2 plants per person in the household
Site. Brussels sprouts grow best in fertile compost-rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Avoid planting Brussels sprouts in the same location two years in a row to prevent soil depletion. In regions with heavy rains or sandy soil, supplement the soil with nitrogen.
Planting time. Plant Brussels sprouts so that they come to harvest in cool weather. Brussels sprouts grow best where the air temperature ranges between 45° and 75°F. Brussels sprouts are can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F but prolonged cold, lack of moisture and too much heat will cause Brussels sprouts to bolt and go directly to seed.
Start Brussels sprouts seeds indoors 16 to 20 weeks before the last frost in spring. Set transplants in the garden12 to 14 weeks before the last frost in spring. In mild-winter regions sow or plant Brussels sprouts in autumn for a late winter or spring harvest. Brussels sprouts will reach maturity 80 to 90 days after transplanting and 100 to 110 days after seeds are sown. Brussels sprouts are not suited for temperatures greater than 80°F; sustained warm temperatures will leaves Brussels sprouts bitter tasting and may cause their tight cabbage-like heads to open.
Planting and spacing. Sow Brussels sprouts seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep and 2 inches apart. Set transplants in the garden when they are 4 to 6 weeks old with 4 to 5 true leaves. Space or thin plants 24 to 30 inches apart. Leggy transplants or transplants with crooked stems can be planted up to their first leaves so they won’t grow top heavy.
Water and feeding. Keep the soil around Brussels sprouts moist; water at the base of plants. Reduce watering as Brussels sprouts approach maturity. Fertilize before planting and again at midseason; side dress plants with well-aged compost.
Container growing. Grow a single Brussels in a container 8 inches deep or larger. In larger containers, allow 24 to 30 inches between plants.
Companion plants. Beets, celery, herbs, onions, potatoes; avoid pole beans, strawberries, tomatoes.
Care. To encourage all of the sprouts on a plant to come to harvest at the same time, pinch off the top terminal bud when the plant is 15 to 20 inches tall or 4 weeks before harvest time. Lower leaves can be removed from the sides of stalks as sprouts develop; leave top leaves intact.
Pests. Brussels sprouts can be attacked by cutworms, cabbage loopers (preceded by small yellow and white moths), and imported cabbage worms. Control these pests by hand picking them off of plants or by spraying with bacillus thuringiensis.
Diseases. Brussels sprouts are susceptible to yellows, clubroot, and downy mildew. Planting disease-resistant varieties, rotate crops each year, and keep the garden clean of debris to reduce the possibility of disease. Remove and destroy diseased plants immediately.
Harvest. Brussels sprouts taste best when the buds are small and tight, about 1 to 1½ inch in diameter. Sprouts mature from the bottom of the stem upwards unless the growing tip has been pinched out 4 weeks in advance of harvest, in which case all of the sprouts on stem will come to harvest at once. Tender leaves can be eaten as greens or cooked like collards. Cool temperatures will sweeten the flavor of buds coming to maturity.
Varieties. Bubbles (110 days); Captain Marvel (78 days); Catskill; Early Half Tall (90 days); Jade Cross (90 days); Long Island Improved (95 days); Oliver (90 days); Prince Marvel (90 days); Royal Marvel (85 days); Rubine Red (105 days); Seven Hills (95 days); Tasty Nuggets; Valiant (110 days).
Storing and preserving. Brussels sprouts buds will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks and can be frozen for up to 4 months after blanching. Stems loaded with buds in late fall can be cut harvested and kept in a cool, dry place for post harvest use. Remove loose or discolored outer leaves from stems before storing. Do not wash buds until you are ready to use them.
Common name. Brussels sprouts, sprouts
Botanical name. Brassica oleracea gemmifera
Origin. Europe, Mediterranean
More tips: How to Harvest and Store Brussels Sprouts