Brussels sprouts, a hardy, slow-growing vegetable they resemble miniature cabbages . Brussels Sprouts can be grown with fair success in most areas of the country. They are frost resistant and provide a good crop over the winter months. In mild areas, or where there is deep snow cover, the sprouts will overwinter.
Healthy well cultivated and cared for plants should produce 50 to 75 heads each.
In all but the most northern states, and Provinces summers are usually too warm for completely satisfactory production from spring plantings. Plants set out in late spring to early summer grow satisfactorily and mature high-quality sprouts when the fall weather begins to cool.
Brussels are a cool weather crop that will grow best at around 60 degrees F. even up to 75 degress F will do. Warmer temperatures above the suggested parameters will cause the sprouts to open and lose their firmness. Warm weather also causes a more intense and undesirable flavor.
Planting Brussel Sprouts
Transplants should be set out in early summer to midsummer in Cooler regions. Spring planting in warmer regions should be done from late April to early May.
If started indoors, the seed should be sown in a protected location in peat pots or seed flats, 4 to 5 weeks before transplanting. It will takes 90 to 95 days to reach full maturity.
Transplant the seedlings to the permanent garden location when space and time allow, but at least 90 to 100 days before the first frost date for your area.
For summer harvest, you must plant transplants of an early, heat-resistant variety in very early spring. Sprouts maturing in hot weather or under dry conditions are more likely to develop bitterness. Fall production is the most practical and rewarding in most parts of the country.
Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart in the row, or 24 inches in all directions in beds. Cover seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and transplant the seedlings when they are about 3 inches tall. Do not allow transplants to become stunted in the flats before transplanting.
Care and Cultivation of Brussels Sprouts
Moisture during the summer is critical to keep the plants healthy Brussel sprouts are not very drought tolerant, plants will become stressed and growth will be impeded. Inexpensive water timers are available.
Fertilizer and Soil
Soil Ph should be to 6.5- 7.0 See Tracking and Adjusting Soil pH for information on adjusting the pH of your gardens soil.
Brussel Sprouts have high nitrogen and boron requirements. A high nitrogen fertilizer such as one you would use on your lawn is a good idea. Boron is incorporated in most fertilizers but you can also add more with a foliar spray of boric acid at a ratio of 1/8 cup per gallon of water.
Osmocote ,a time released fertilizer works well and has become very popular , lasting for up to 4 months. Osmocote is however , expensive. An organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion can be used bi-weekly, soils will always be improved with the addition of well rotted manure or other organic matter.
Brussels Sprouts share a symbiosis with Potatoes, Sage, Hyssop, and Thyme and have an antagonistic relationship with Strawberries and Rosemary. See Companion Planting
Harvesting should commence when sprouts are about 1 inch in diameter. Start at the bottom and harvest upward. If harvest is delayed until the lower leaves turn yellow, the sprouts will be tough and off flavor. The flavor is actually improved by a minimal exposure to light frost.