Brussels sprouts are among the best vegetables you can grow in your garden as they are capable of giving you a healthy and bountiful harvest throughout the whole winter months. By growing Brussels sprouts in your own garden, you can gain easy access to this healthy vegetable, allowing you to enjoy its many health benefits.
With their high fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K content, you will surely enjoy these vegetables while cooking and preparing them in various ways, such as boiling, frying, steaming, and roasting. It is also possible to enjoy Brussels sprouts raw by adding them to your salad or eating them on their own as crunchy snacks.
Get to know more about how to grow Brussels sprouts, the impressively nutritious vegetable, through this article.
Quick Facts About the Brussels Sprouts
- Botanical name: Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera
- Type of plant: Biennial and annual
- Family: Brassicaceae
- Sunlight exposure: Full
- Size: 2 to 3 feet tall, 1 foot wide
- Type of soil: Well-drained and loamy
- Soil pH level: Neutral
- Native area: Mediterranean
- Hardiness zones: USDA 2 to 10
- Bloom time: Summer
Brussels Sprouts Plants Described
Brussels sprouts refer to leafy greens that naturally grow in compact and small heads, similar to tiny cabbages. These veggies have a bit bitter, earthy, and vegetal taste. You can cook it in various ways – among which are grilling, pan-frying, roasting, and sauteing.
One important fact about this veggie is it comes from the Brassica oleracea species cultivar – the cultivar to where cabbages, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli also belong. They look quite the same as miniature cabbages. You will notice its heads or buds growing on thick stalks and you can harvest them using a machine or your hand.
You can also harvest Brussels sprouts plants if you cut off the whole or entire stalk. Once harvested, you can expect the heads or buds to be around one to two inches in diameter and come in light to dark or deep green colors. When grown in vegetable gardens, these veggies are available the entire year, but their peak season is usually around late August to March.
Different Types and Varieties of Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts plants come in several types and varieties – with each one varying in terms of production and appearance, among many other factors. The most common Brussels sprouts varieties that you should know are the following:
- Jade Cross – This variety is famous for being a high-yield and compact plant. It works well in windy locations. You can also expect the Jade cross to tolerate the hot weather quite well.
- Long Island Improved – This one is a small variety but it has a very high yield. It can withstand harsh winds and can handle freezing.
- Falstaff – The Falstaff Brussels sprout variety features reddish-purple sweet sprouts.
- Oliver – It often takes about eighty to ninety days for the Oliver variety to mature. Many are also fond of it because it is disease resistant.
When Should You Plant Brussels Sprouts?
When it comes to growing Brussels sprouts, the first thing you ought to do is to learn about the perfect time to plant them. Note that Brussels sprout plants love the cool weather, which means that they love temperatures that are around 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
It would also be best to start planting the seeds in early April. It is often advisable to cultivate and plant seeds indoors as doing so promotes better germination. During the middle of May, you can transplant them into your garden.
While Brussels sprouts are not fond of the heat, you can still expect them to withstand the hot summers. This means that they will still be able to give you a bountiful and nice harvest late in the harvesting season.
The best thing you should do, therefore, is to plant these veggies at the correct time, allowing them to mature during the cool weather. This means you should start planting Brussels sprouts as early as February.
You may also do it late in May based on the specific area where you live. If you want to be able to enjoy a harvest that is longer-lasting, it would be best to sow seeds from a succession of different varieties of Brussels sprouts.
Best Planting Location
When in search of the best planting location for your Brussels sprout, it is crucial to remind yourself that this vegetable requires well-draining soil. It does not also need a lot of nutrients, which is why it is one of those crops that you can easily grow, making them ideal for beginners.
Pick a sunny location for this winter or this cool-weather crop as the young plants specifically require a minimum of 6-hour full sunlight daily. One more thing to remind yourself of is that giving the Brussels sprout plants too much nitrogen can result in more leaves, instead of sprouts. This is the reason why you should avoid adding a soil improver to your compost prior to planting.
Another important fact about Brussels sprouts is that the plants tend to grow really big, so they may not be suitable for those with tight spaces. You can also expect Brussels sprouts to thrive well in raised garden beds as these places make the plants improve their ability to handle fluctuations in soil temperature.
You may also grow Brussels sprouts in containers. Avoid planting these veggies with strawberries as these fruits may restrict their growth. Do not put the sprouts close to the nightshade family members, including tomatoes, too, as the sprouts may only hamper the growth of the latter.
How to Plant and Grow Brussels Sprouts from Seeds?
To achieve great results from your decision to grow Brussels sprouts, you should begin to sow the seeds early, so you can enjoy a longer harvest. Begin the planting of seeds under cover, especially if you plan to make a greenhouse. You may also put them under clothes or in a cold frame.
The best thing you can do is to sow the seeds thinly in trays or pots, usually around half an inch deep. If you decide to plant the seeds in the ground, it would be ideal to sow them in rows – around six inches apart.
Again, you should keep in mind that these plants can grow really big. If they become big or large, you can space the two around eighteen to twenty-four inches apart. This should provide them with enough room, making it possible for them to spread out effortlessly once they start growing.
Upon noticing that the plants are already growing well, you can water them regularly and stake them. This is so you can prevent them from toppling over. You should also remove yellowing leaves from the plants.
How to Plant Brussels Sprouts from Seedings?
It is also possible for you to use Brussels sprout seedlings you can buy in garden centers and nurseries for transplanting. What you should do is prepare the garden bed first by adding compost to the soil, which aids in improving water retention and drainage.
Keep in mind that these veggies love loamy, well-drained, and highly fertile soil that has plenty of organic matter. It should also have a neutral pH, preferably around 6.0 to 6.8. You have to dig a hole that is a bit wider compared to the specific container where the Brussels sprouts seedlings grow in.
One more thing to take note of is that the plants require proper spacing so they can have the biggest yield. It would be ideal to give each plant a space of around 19 inches or more.
Make it a point to plant your Brussels sprouts in full sun. Note that while they are capable of thriving even in light shade, their maturity will also slow down because of that. Take the transplant out of the container, provided it does not grow from a compostable pot already.
After that, put them into the hole you prepared. Do it in a way that the transplanted Brussels sprouts seedlings sit at a similar height as when they are still in their original containers. Use soil to fill up the area surrounding the plants then water in a way that the fluid helps the plants settle in.
Lastly, you should add mulch, preferably one thick layer of it. This should help you in your attempt to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
How to Propagate Brussels Sprouts?
A lot of people grow these vegetables as annuals, making them incapable of collecting the seeds during the second year of propagating the plants. Fortunately, you can still regrow them from scraps. This is great, especially if you want to maximize your harvest of fresh sprouts.
Start the propagation process during the early summer if you intend to plant them outdoors. You can do that with these steps:
- Wash the Brussels sprouts first then take off all the dead leaves. Cut off their bottom part.
- You should then position the piece that you have cut while the stem is facing down. This is important in submerging it in a dish containing water. Avoid fully submerging the sprout, though.
- Once done, you can put the dish in a specific place where it receives bright yet indirect light.
- Water every day. You also have to take off any dead leaves that you see from the plant.
- Check out the plants after around two weeks to determine if the roots already form. This should also be enough time for the leaves to start showing and growing from the top. Upon seeing a substantial root system, you have an assurance that it is already safe to transplant all the sprouts.
Caring for your Brussels Sprouts
Here’s how you can care for the Brussels sprouts that are growing in your garden:
The best type of soil for your Brussels sprouts is a well-drained and loamy one with high organic matter content. It is also highly recommended to add a layer of compost before planting. As for the soil pH level, it should be anywhere neutral.
Expect the Brussels sprouts to deliver incredible performance when under the full sun. It should receive a minimum of 6-hour direct sunlight. Avoid excessive shade as it may only slow down the maturity of the sprouts.
Humidity and Temperature
Brussels sprouts prefer being in environments with temperatures that range from 45 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Note, though, that they are still capable of tolerating short spells when the temperature is below freezing point.
As for the humidity, it is not a significant issue provided you give the soil the required moisture. You also have to give the plants proper airflow.
When it comes to watering requirements, one thing to take note of is that the Brussels sprouts need the soil where they are planted to remain moist. However, note that despite the need to make the soil moist, it should still not be soggy. As a rule, give it around one to one and a half inches of water weekly.
Avoid watering inconsistently as this may lead to the poor growth and development of sprouts. You can retain the moisture in the soil by adding one layer or so of mulch. This should also help in ensuring that the roots remain cool.
Brussels sprouts require an organic vegetable fertilizer rich in nitrogen. Provide such organic and balanced fertilizer to them right after the seedlings grow to approximately 6-inch tall. Apply this fertilizer again throughout the entire growing season but make sure to follow the instructions stated on the label strictly to guarantee that it would help the all the sprouts develop well.
Another part of caring for the Brussels sprouts is pollination. Note that these vegetables tend to produce flowers and start seeding upon reaching their second growing season.
Note, though, that a lot of gardeners grow these plants as annuals, which prevents them from reaching the flowering stage. In terms of pollination, therefore, you may need the help of beneficial insects and some good wind.
In general, it is unnecessary to prune Brussels sprouts but it is highly recommended to get rid of all diseased or damaged portions of the plants right after you notice them. If you don’t, then these parts may only end up weakening the whole plant. It is also advisable to get rid of yellowed leaves to encourage sprout production.
Another important area of caring for your Brussels sprouts is effective weed control. If you notice weeds around your plants, you can use a trowel or hoe to do shallow digging frequently so you can kill them.
You can also cultivate them deep enough as a means of cutting off the weeds beneath the soil surface. Just be extra careful when doing the cultivation to ensure that you don’t end up damaging the plants.
Mulching is also another effective way to control weeds. The best mulch you can use would be weed-free straw, herbicide-free grass clippings, and any other organic matter. Mulch to around 3 to 4 inches in depth to prevent weeds from developing and make the need for cultivation less frequent.
How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts?
One key fact about Brussels sprouts is that they tend to grow tall first. This means that they will not start to produce sprouts until they are almost at their full height upon maturity. Also, you will notice every sprout growing at the joint or leaf axil.
The sprouts start to mature starting from the bottom upward. The best time to start harvesting Brussels sprouts is upon seeing the lower sprouts of the plant getting to around one inch in diameter.
It is advisable to pick them before reaching extremely large sizes to prevent them from cracking and resulting in a bitter taste. You can easily pull off the sprouts by removing the leaf beneath each one first. After that, twisting and pulling the sprout should come next.
A lot of people are in favor of using pruners for this purpose, too. Once you have completed the harvest, you can expect a second crop to start growing exactly at the stem’s base.
While these sprouts from the second crop will not be that tight if you compare them to the first one, you still have an assurance that they are totally edible. Store the harvested sprouts in your fridge for up to five days. Avoid washing them until the time when you are ready to use them.
Common Pests and Diseases
While it is generally easy to grow Brussels sprouts, take note that the entire process will not be without problems. You may encounter a few issues along the process – among which would be the presence of pests and the development of plant diseases.
In general, Brussels sprouts have a high chance of experiencing similar problems encountered by well-known cabbage family plants. As for the pests that commonly bug them, they include the aphid, cabbage root maggot, cabbage loopers, and cabbage worms. You can deal with them with the help of row covers.
There are also fungal diseases that may hamper the growth of your Brussels sprouts. Among them are clubroot, white mold, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot. It is advisable to give the plants sufficient air circulation to prevent such diseases. If you notice the plants becoming diseases, the best course of action would be to destroy them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What month do you plant Brussels sprouts?
It would be best to plant your Brussels sprouts in late April. Note, though, that this vegetable has a long growing cycle, so it would be better to plant them around three months before the actual arrival of the cold weather. By doing that, you can harvest sprouts once the frost season comes.
Do Brussels sprouts come back every year?
No. The reason is that Brussels sprouts are biennial plants, making them capable of living for only around two years. Yes, it can still survive over a year but once the second year comes, it will start producing seeds and flowers instead of edible heads.
Are Brussels sprouts difficult to grow?
No. It is actually the opposite since you can easily and effortlessly grow Brussels sprouts. Just remember an important thing – that is the vegetables are capable of growing in cool temperatures or weather.
In other words, if you time the sowing of the seeds in a way that exposes the plant to a frost, you will be able to grasp the fact that you can indeed grow it with ease.
Should I cut the leaves off my Brussels sprouts?
Several vegetable gardeners say that there is a high chance for the crop to produce a higher yield if they remove the lower leaves. However, it is not that necessary when growing veggies in the garden in your home kitchen.
In case you decided to take off some leaves at the lower part of the plant, make sure that a few of the healthiest, biggest, and fully expanded leaves at the upper part stay intact on top. This is necessary for ensuring that the plant will continue to be fed.
How many Brussels sprouts can you expect from a single plant?
It is possible to get more than fifty healthy and delicious Brussels sprouts in just one plant. This is if you make sure that you raise these plants in well-draining soil, give them a minimum of 6 hours full sun daily, and water them regularly.
Does it take a long time for Brussels sprouts to grow?
Yes. The growing season is usually around 85 to 100 days starting from seeding to the time of harvest. The good news is that these plants can tolerate cold weather, which means you can also overwinter them in the vegetable garden in your home.
All it takes would be mulching around the plant’s stem during the beginning of the cool weather, an effective way of keeping the plants protected from frost. It is then possible to harvest fresh sprouts the entire winter to the early spring the next year.
In general, Brussels sprouts are among those vegetables that you can grow with ease. They are not that complicated to grow, provided you meet their environmental requirements, including even moisture and sufficient sunlight.
Considering how easy it is to grow Brussels sprouts, making these veggies a part of your garden will definitely give you delightful and satisfying results. Harvesting sprouts is also easy and you can include them in a lot of your dishes.