The Brussel sprout gets its moniker from the city of its origin, Brussels, in Belgium. These crunchy green delights taste lovely, roasted, or steamed, and they come packed with plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
The ‘Brigitte F1’ is the most popular variety of Brussel sprout, and novice gardeners will get excellent results during the growing season when planting this variety. Bridgette does so well because the sprouts stay closed for longer than other types, allowing for multiple harvests at the end of the growing season.
Brussel sprouts are full of dietary fiber, and they’re an excellent source of Vitamin D, C, and folic acid. Brussel sprouts also contain high levels of polyphenol plant compounds known as “glucosinolates.” Nutritional science believes that these compounds could have a preventative effect on cancer.
Brussels will grow slowly throughout the season, reaching maturity in around 26 to 31-weeks, depending on the growing conditions and the climate. These plants like cold conditions, and it’s one of the few vegetables you can harvest from September through to early February.
In this guide, we’ll unpack everything you need to know about growing Brussel sprouts this season.
Where Do I Plant My Brussel Sprouts?
- 1 Where Do I Plant My Brussel Sprouts?
- 2 When Do I Plant My Brussel Sprouts?
- 3 How Do I Sow Brussel Sprouts?
- 4 How Do I Water Brussel Sprouts?
- 5 How Do I Harden Brussel Sprouts?
- 6 How Do I Transplant Brussel Sprouts?
- 7 How Do I Care for Brussel Sprouts?
- 8 Do I Need to Rotate My Brussel Sprout Crop?
- 9 What Are the Diseases and Pests Affecting Brussel Sprouts?
- 10 How Do I Harvest and Store Brussel Sprouts?
Choose an area of your garden that gets at least 6 to 8-hours of direct sunlight each day. Planting in a shade house or greenhouse is also ideal, producing large plants that yield plenty of Brussel sprouts.
Brussel sprouts are hardy plants that prefer colder climates. Some varieties do well in warmer regions, but this wintertime plant will do best in the northern states of the US. You’ll need to ensure you stake the plants in the autumn to prevent winds from blowing over the long stems.
Brussel sprouts prefer firm and nutritious soils to produce the tasty sprouts, and it’s best to leave the earth to rest for at least 4 to 6-months before planting.
Sprouts are hardy plants and will grow in most sites but will need to be staked in autumn in exposed areas to prevent blowing over in high winds.
When Do I Plant My Brussel Sprouts?
Brussel sprouts are an excellent choice for succession planting to ensure you get crops through the autumn and winter.
Start planting your first crop in mid-March, and then succession crops in early April and May. Space your succession plantings at least 4-weeks apart.
How Do I Sow Brussel Sprouts?
Start your Brussel sprouts four weeks before your planting date in mid-March. Take a modular planting tray and plant one seed in each module.
Plant the seed at just under an inch deep in the tray, and the seeds should germinate within 7 to 12-days. After germination finishes, the seedlings are ready for transplanting into the garden 4-weeks later.
If you’re using a propagator system or a heat tray to assist germination, make sure that you check that the seedlings don’t turn spindly. After all, your seedlings start to appear, pull out the weaker-looking seedlings, and prepare the more vigorous seedlings for the garden.
How Do I Water Brussel Sprouts?
Never let your seedlings dry out before transplanting them into the garden. Use a misting spray bottle to ensure the soil remains moist during the germination and early establishment phase.
However, gardeners must ensure the get the right balance when watering. Over-watering your seedlings can also result in stunted growth, and it increases the chances of the seedlings developing root rot.
After planting your Brussel sprouts in the veggie beds, water deeply, and then let the soil dry out over the next two to three days. Allowing the soil to dry out a bit between watering helps the roots grow as they search the ground for water.
If you live in a warm climate, water your sprouts every other day. If your Brussels sprouts are grown in colder climates, twice a week is enough watering to ensure optimal growth.
Overwatering leads to waterlogging of the soil around the plant’s roots. Saturated soil eventually leads to the development of root rot and the death of your Brussel sprouts.
How Do I Harden Brussel Sprouts?
If you start your Brussels indoors, then they need a period of adjustment to outdoor conditions. Take a plastic tent or propagator and place it over the seedling trays to retain the moisture and humidity in the air around the plant.
Never leave the seedling tray in the sun. Keep it in a cool shady area and bring it indoors overnight. Repeat this hardening treatment for 10-days.
Every day remove the plastic tenting from the tray an hour earlier. Keep cutting back the time under the plastic tenting by an hour until it no longer needs the assistance of the cloche or the mini greenhouse.
How Do I Transplant Brussel Sprouts?
Brussels sprout plants are larger than you think. They develop robust root systems that like to spread horizontally. The taller varieties of Brussel sprouts require up to 30-inches between plants and 30-inches between the rows. Smaller types of Brussel sprouts require 25-inches of spacing between plants, a 25-inches between the rows.
When planting your seedlings, dig a hole around 1-footy wide and work to the soil. Add some perlite and compost to the freshly turned soil for additional nutrients and assistance with water drainage.
Place the seedling in the center of the worked area and press lightly into the soil to remove the air pockets. Water gently to ensure the root ball of the seedling can recover from the stress of the transplant.
How Do I Care for Brussel Sprouts?
All the brassicas prefer growing in moist, fertile soil. Brussels require plenty of nutrients to produce large, tasty sprouts.
- Organic fertilizers are a great idea to give your sprouts all the nutrients they need throughout the growing season. We recommend chicken manure and seaweed fertilizers for plenty of the essential N, P, and K your Brussels need to grow.
- Feed your plants every 4-weeks throughout the growing season and hoe the soil for weeds as they start to emerge. Weeds compete for the same resources as your Brussels, and you mustn’t let them establish and spread in the garden.
- Work a gardening fork through the soil every few weeks to improve aeration in the roots. Providing more air to the roots while growing increases the size of your Brussels come harvest time.
- Make sure that you stake down your Brussel sprouts in the autumn, as the top-heavy nature of the plant may cause it to fall over in high winds.
- Stake your plants by driving a 2-foot wooden or plastic stake 2-inches away from the base, and then loosely tie the trunk of the plant to the stake using gardening tine.
Do I Need to Rotate My Brussel Sprout Crop?
Brussel sprouts are an excellent crop to grow in a succession planting schedule throughout the growing season. By starting your planting in mid-March, and adding a new batch every 4-weeks, you’ll have successive harvest throughout the fall and winter.
Rotate your plants in the growing site every season. Brussels draw plenty of nutrients from the ground, so you’ll need to ensure you’re rotating your garden for the best results. Rotating your crops annually also helps to ensure pathogens don’t overwinter in the ground and infect the following year’s crop.
What Are the Diseases and Pests Affecting Brussel Sprouts?
Brussel sprouts are relatively hardy, but they suffer from infection and pests like any other plant in the garden. Some of the common diseases and pests to look out for with your broccoli include the following.
- Cabbage Root Fly – You’ll notice wilting in the foliage, and when you pull the plant from the ground, there will be white maggots around the roots. These bugs are a common problem with new transplants.
- Cabbage Caterpillars – Butterflies lay clusters of eggs under the leaves. When they hatch, the caterpillars suck the juices out of the leaves.
- Cutworms and Leatherjackets – These pests live under the soil and emerge at night to feed on your plants.
- Aphids – Look on the stems for signs of aphids congregating.
- Clubroot Disease – Damages the root system turning them thick and woody, killing the plant. Clubroot infects all nearby brassicas, and this pathogen can live in the soil through winters for up to 9-years.
Control pests using an organic pesticide like neem oil. Spray it on the plants and stop treatment at least two to three weeks before harvest.
How Do I Harvest and Store Brussel Sprouts?
- Your brussels sprouts will start to ripen at the base of the stalk.
- When harvesting, begin at the bottom and work your way up the trunk as you go. You can harvest your Brussel sprouts in stages over a few days to ensure all the sprouts are ripe when picking.
- Remove all yellow foliage when harvesting to prevent attracting disease to the plant.
- After finishing your harvesting, don’t rinse the sprouts. Pack them into Ziploc bags and store them in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
- You can Blanche your Brussels and then freeze them for long term storage up to 6-months.
- After you harvest, dig up the root and either burn it or send it to the landfill, don’t add it to your compost heap.