How To Grow Brussels Sprouts

Planting Brussels Sprouts

These biennials are normally recommended for fall gardens primarily due to the cooler weather that stimulates their growth and sweetens their taste. Start indoors approx. 12 weeks before first fall frost. If you desire a summer harvest, sow only an early, heat-resistant variety in late winter to early spring. Sprouts tend to result in bitterness and may not form compact heads when grown in severe heat and/or dry circumstances. You can direct seed as soon as firm, fertile soil can be worked or start indoors 4-6 weeks before setting out. Brussels sprouts grow best when the soil's temperature ranges from 45 to 75 ° F., with the best growth at 60 to 65 ° F. Seed Depth: ¼ - ½ " Plant Spacing: 18-24" Row Spacing: 30-36" Allow seed 5 to 10 days to germinate. As plants grow, a sufficient amount of water is required to encourage a healthy, successful crop. Its roots are shallow, so be careful when cultivating.

Harvesting Brussels Sprouts

1-2" heads will form from the small sprouts and may be cut off the stem once they're 1 – 1 ½ " in size and firm. Because the lower sprouts mature quicker, usually pick these first. Harvest before the leaves turn yellow. A second crop should follow and appear at the base of the stem. The leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens. Since Brussels sprouts are biennials, they will keep over the winter if you desire another season.

Saving Brussels Sprouts Seeds

Brussels sprouts are insect-pollinated, so keep varieties isolated from other members of the Cabbage Family(such as cabbage and broccoli) by approximately one mile. Let seed pods dry completely on the plant before picking. Once ready, the pods will open of their own accord. Then harvest as soon as possible. Brussels Sprouts seed should be viable for 4 years under proper storage conditions .

Common Problems

  • Aphids
    These frustrating critters will quickly weaken your plants, bringing viruses upon them. These pear-shaped insects are about 3/8 in. long and can be many different colors. In our gardens here, Diane likes to plant lots of marigolds which draw helpful insects to our aid, for example the lady bird and the hover fly, both of which prey on aphids. A plant sprayed with homemade garlic or a strong stream of water does the trick as well.

  • Caterpillars
    On the underside of the plant's leaves, caterpillars commonly feed and lay their eggs. Within a very short amount of time, they will completely destroy your sprouts if action is not taken immediately. You must pick 'em off by hand. This requires a faithful eye.

  • Club Root
    This fungus can affect all members of the Brassica Family. Symptoms include yellow, wilting leaves; stubby, swollen roots; and stunted growth. This can be prevented primarily by mere crop rotation. Lime added to the soil to reduce acidity may also help.

Suggested Companions

  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Sage
  • Chamomile
  • Dill
  • Celery
  • Hyssop
  • Thyme
  • Wormwood
  • Southernwood (repels White Cabbage Butterfly)

Poor Companions

  • Pole Beans
  • Strawberries