Brussels sprouts are vegetables that are mineral-rich and great for intestinal transit when cooked.
Basic Brussel sprout facts
Name – Brassica gemmifera
Family – brassicas
Type – biennial vegetable
Exposure – full sun
Soil – cool, deep, moist and rich
Sowing – March to June
Harvest – September to March
Productivity – more or less 40 pieces per stem
Special care, from sowing and planting up to harvest, will help you grow magnificent Brussels sprouts.
Sowing and planting Brussels sprout
Sowing Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are generally sown at the end of winter or in spring in a sheltered place, to be transplanted outdoors from March to August.
Sow in March and April to harvest in fall and in April or May for a harvest in winter and in spring.
- Sowing can start in a nursery in March, and seedlings are transplanted to the ground in May.
- Planting usually takes place in May or June but this phase can last from March to August.
- Avoid mixing in fertilizer that would be too rich in nitrogen.
>> More details on timing the sowing to extend the harvest
Sprouting usually happens 8 to 10 days after sowing.
- Once they have sprouted, when the plants bear 2 or 3 leaves, thin down to 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm).
- Transplant with a 20 inch (50 cm) interval when the plants bear 6 to 8 leaves.
Caring for Brussels sprouts
- Space plants 20 inches (50 cm) apart when transplanting.
This space is needed to give the plants room to grow.
- The soil must have been well tilled beforehand.
- Water regularly but in a light drizzle to keep the substrate sufficiently moist.
Watering Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts love rather cool soil and requires watering on a regular basis in case of dry spells.
- Good mulching will retain moisture and keep the soil cool.
- Avoid getting the leaves wet to keep fungus from appearing.
Harvesting Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are harvested as the main stem grows taller and taller. Start with harvesting the pieces near the base, and slowly pick them higher and higher.
- You only need to break off the tiny cabbage heads that grow along the side of it when you need a few.
- Wait for these small heads to reach at leas 1 inch (3 cm) across.
- Pick the ones that are towards the bottom of the stem first.
- Harvest everything before it freezes really hard.
Parasites and diseases that attack Brussels sprouts
The main enemy of Brussels sprouts is downy mildew. Moisture is the primary factor that enables the spread of downy mildew.
- Avoid wetting the leaves of your Brussels sprouts.
- Don’t overcrowd plants so that air circulates well among the leaves.
- Read our advice on how to treat downy mildew.
For these two parasites, avoid chemical treatments at any cost, because your vegetables and soil could absorb contaminants.
Learn more about Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts are vegetables that are over 90% water, so they only count few calories, and they have high Vitamin C and fiber contents, too. What makes this a particularly relevant crop is the timing: brussels sprouts is a winter source of nutrients.
They also gather many minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Finally, the antioxidant lutein and zeaxanthin that it provides help slow ageing.
Brussels sprouts are thus an excellent vegetable that could even help fight ageing and cancer.
Brussels sprout varieties
Varieties differ in that they’re taller or shorter, more or less productive, and, to a lesser degree, the diversity of their flavors.
Here are a few of the most common varieties:
- ‘Dagan’: grows straight and regular
- ‘Jade Cross’: smaller than normal head size, not quite an inch across (less than 3 cm).
- ‘Long Island Improved’: more frost hardy than other varieties
- ‘Sanda’: also hardy, and produces earlier
Smart tip about Brussels sprouts
Provide your cabbage with extra nutrients (fertilizer, manure and seaweed-based compost) to boost growth and especially enhance your own harvest!
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Brussels sprouts pyramid by Gerd Schiffler under Pixabay license
Brussels sprouts in vegetable patch by Ben Kerckx under Pixabay license
Harvesting Brussels sprouts by Public Domain Pictures under Pixabay license