How To Grow Brussels Sprouts
Plant Type: Annual
Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea, var. gemmifera
Light: Full sun
Soil Type: Rich, loose, added organic compost
Soil Temperature: 40°+
ph Range: 6.0 – 6.5
Watering: Average; keep moist but not soggy
Plant (Payson): March 15 – May 15 / August 1 – September 15
Planting Method: Seed or transplant
Germination (days): 3 – 10
Transplant: Recommended due to long maturity time
Maturity: 80 – 100
Common Pests: Cabbage worm, aphids, cabbage root maggots and flea beetles
Common Diseases: Black rot
Brussels sprouts are part of the Brassica group of cabbage related garden veggies. Nutritionally Brussels sprouts contain protein, potassium, vitamins A and C, and folate.
Brussels sprouts are a slow growing vegetable that are frost resistant and provide a good crop over the winter months. Each sprout resembles a small cabbage. Brussels are a cool weather crop that grows best at around 60-65 degrees F. They will grow well in temperatures up to 80° F. Warmer temperatures will cause the sprouts to open up and lose their firmness and the flavor of the sprout to be more intense and bitter.
This vegetable takes 80 to 100 days from transplant to harvest, so it is important to time planting to have a successful harvest.
(US Weather Station data indicates that the first frost in Payson usually occurs between October 3rd to November 7th so plant accordingly.)
Brussels sprouts prefer rich loose soil with a pH of 6.0 – 6.5. Till organic compost into the soil a few weeks before planting to help the soil retain water and add nutrients. Do not plant Brussels sprouts in the same area of your garden where you have grown other cabbage related plants in the last two years. Crop rotation prevents soil borne diseases and promotes a more nutrient rich soil. Wait 5 to 7 years to plant in an area that previously had diseased plants.
You should plan the timing of your sowing so that the seedlings are transplanted about 3 months before the first fall frost. If October is the first possible frost date, then transplants should be started in June for July planting.
Sow your seeds ½ inch deep in seed pots in mid spring to late summer. Keep seed pots inside near a window or outdoors in a protected area as long a daytime temperatures stay above 50° and below 80°. Germination takes about 3-10 days and occurs above 50°F.
Transplant your seedlings into the garden when they are about 5-6 weeks old and about 6 inches in height. Plant the seedlings 15 inches apart and if planting in rows then space the rows about 30 – 35 inches apart.
Brussels sprouts can also be direct seeded into the garden in late June for fall and winter harvest. If using nursery starter plants plant them 3 months before the first fall frost. Regardless of the method of planting Brussels sprouts are heavy feeders and require consistent watering so apply an organic balanced fertilizer and water at the time of planting.
Remove the growing tip of the plant about a month before the harvesting date to divert energy from leaf growth into the developing sprouts. Reminder: Brussels sprouts mature 90 to 100 days after transplanting. Going beyond the normal maturation of the plant will cause the plant to become more susceptible to insect infestation—aphids particularly like to winter-over on old Brussels sprout plants.
Brussels sprout seedlings will need row cover protection from the high summer temperatures and heavy mulching once the plants are established.
Water plants at the base of the plant and keep them watered throughout the growing season to prevent the soil from drying out. Continue adding mulch to retain water and keep the soil cool. Brussels sprouts do not like standing water and flooded soil. Cut back on watering at the end of its growing cycle—about 2 weeks before final harvest.
Brussels sprout plants will benefit from applications of an organic nitrogen rich fertilizer containing boron, calcium and magnesium, particularly during the early stages of growth.
Add organic compost regularly to feed the plant, control weeds, and keep the soil cool and maintain soil pH at 6.5 or above to prevent soil-borne diseases.
Stop fertilizing 4 weeks before final harvest.WEEDING
Brussels sprouts have shallow root systems so weed by hand being careful to not disturb the soil around the roots. DISEASE
Careful mulching, watering and pH maintenance should prevent soil borne diseases.
Harvest your Brussels sprouts from the bottom up. The sprouts mature from the bottom up and are at their sweetest when they are still small and tightly closed. Sprouts will develop a sweeter flavor after a few light frosts. Harvest regularly and remove leaves left on the stalk after you have picked the sprouts. This will help to prevent insect infestation. If harvesting the entire stalk with buds intact cut the stem a few inches below the bottom bud when the leaves on the plant start to turn yellow.
Sprouts can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 2 weeks, however, they will lose flavor if not used soon after harvesting. When cooking sprouts make a cross shaped incision across the base of the sprout as this ensures the sprout is cooked evenly through into the middle and so the sprout does not have to be ‘overcooked and soggy’ on the outside to ensure the middle is cooked. Sprouts can be roasted, sautéed, or shredded to use in salads.
For long term storage Brussels sprouts are best preserved by freezing. Before freezing the sprouts need to be blanched. Blanching is simply boiling the sprouts for a short time. Blanching will minimize the loss of flavor, color, nutrients and texture. Frozen sprouts can be stored for up to 12 months.
To aid in your gardening success, here are some useful, trusted links for more information on tomatoes. Please remember Payson Community Garden is an organic garden. Some of these sites may contain recommendations for non-organic products. Please see this website or Plant Fair Nursery website for a list of recommended products that meet the organic standards of Payson Community Garden.