Growing brussel sprouts is fun easy and can supply your table with these delicious vegetable all fall and winter.
This is one of our favorite garden crops to grow each year and we usually keep a few stalks until December when we dig them out of the garden and harvest a late crop of sprouts for a holiday meal.
In this article you will see a straightforward guide on how to grow brussel sprouts.
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Growing Brussel Sprouts Quick Facts
Here are some of the best tips for growing brussel sprouts:
Quick Fact: Brussels sprouts are a cool-season vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family, known for their small, cabbage-like buds that grow along the stem.
Best Time to Plant: Brussels sprouts are typically planted in late spring or early summer for a fall harvest. You can also plant them in late summer for a winter harvest in mild climates. Soil pH: Aim for a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Brussels sprouts prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil. Soil Type: Well-draining, fertile soil with plenty of organic matter is ideal for Brussels sprouts. They thrive in loamy soil. Sunlight: Brussels sprouts require full sun, which means they need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Water deeply and evenly to prevent drought stress or uneven growth. Fertilizing: Fertilize with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer or compost before planting and again when the sprouts are about 4-6 inches tall. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can promote leafy growth at the expense of sprout formation. Plant Spacing: Brussels sprouts need space to grow. Plant them 18-24 inches apart in rows or raised beds. Proper spacing ensures good air circulation and prevents disease. Common Pests: Watch out for common pests such as aphids, cabbage worms, and slugs. Use row covers, hand-picking, or organic pest control methods as needed. Companion Plants: Brussels sprouts benefit from companion planting with vegetables like beets, carrots, and onions, which can help deter pests and improve growth. Harvest Time: Brussels sprouts mature in about 80-100 days after planting. Harvest the sprouts when they are firm, green, and about 1-2 inches in diameter. Start from the bottom of the plant and work your way up. Frost can improve their flavor, so you can continue harvesting into winter in some regions.
Selecting the Best Brussel Sprouts Variety
Here is a list of seven popular Brussels sprout varieties, along with a brief description of each. Choosing the best variety for your growing conditions ensures success when you grow brussel sprouts.
Long Island Improved: Long Island Improved is a classic heirloom variety known for its reliable performance. These Brussels sprouts produce medium-sized, sweet, and tender sprouts on sturdy stalks. They are an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced gardeners.
Jade Cross E: Jade Cross E is a hybrid variety prized for its disease resistance and uniform sprout development. The dark green, slightly nutty-flavored sprouts grow tightly together on the stalk, making them easy to harvest all at once or selectively as needed.
Nautic: Nautic Brussels sprouts are a relatively new variety that boasts exceptionally large, flavorful sprouts. They have a slightly sweeter taste compared to some other varieties and offer a high yield per plant. Nautic is an excellent choice for those looking for big, delicious sprouts.
Churchill: Churchill Brussels sprouts are a cold-hardy variety perfect for late-season harvesting. These sprouts are known for their excellent flavor and firm texture, making them a favorite for roasting or sautéing. The plant’s vigorous growth ensures a bountiful harvest.
Prince Marvel: Prince Marvel is a compact Brussels sprout variety ideal for small gardens or containers. Despite its smaller stature, it produces an abundance of tasty sprouts. This variety is well-suited for gardeners with limited space.
Tasty Nuggets: Tasty Nuggets Brussels sprouts are a fun and unique variety that grows sprouts in clusters, resembling tiny cabbages. They have a milder, slightly sweet flavor and are perfect for fresh eating, salads, or stir-fries.
Red Ball: For a splash of color in your Brussels sprout patch, consider Red Ball. This variety produces vibrant, deep-red sprouts that are not only visually appealing but also rich in antioxidants. Their flavor is slightly sweeter than green varieties, making them a delightful addition to your garden and plate.
How to Grow Brussel Sprouts
Below you can see exactly how to grow brussel sprouts.
When to Plant Brussel Sprouts
Brussels sprouts thrive in cool weather, so it’s recommended to plant them in late spring to early summer for a fall harvest, typically 100-130 days before your region’s first expected frost date. However, in regions with mild winters, you can also sow them in late summer for a winter harvest.
Timing is essential, as planting too early in spring can lead to premature flowering and smaller sprouts, while planting too late may result in inadequate growth before winter sets in.
How to Plant Brussel Sprouts
Start by selecting a sunny location with well-draining, fertile soil that has a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Begin planting in late spring or early summer, sowing the seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep in rows spaced about 24 inches apart. If you are growing in raised beds, you can plant them up to 18 inches apart.
Thin the seedlings to stand 18-24 inches apart when they reach a few inches in height, ensuring proper spacing for healthy growth. Brussels sprouts thrive in cool weather, so provide consistent moisture, mulch to retain soil moisture and regulate temperature, and protect against common pests.
As they grow, maintain a vigilant eye on their progress, and follow proper care and maintenance practices to nurture robust plants and enjoy a bountiful Brussels sprout harvest.
You can also start seeds indoors and plant seedlings outside. We like to grow brussel sprouts from seedlings and usually plant about 8 plants for our family.
Brussel Sprouts Care and Maintenance
Once your Brussels sprouts are established, it’s important to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.
Regularly inspect your plants for common pests like aphids and cabbage worms, which can quickly damage the leaves and sprouts. Use organic pest control methods, such as hand-picking or introducing beneficial insects, to manage these threats. Additionally, consider staking or providing support to the plants as they grow taller to prevent toppling over in windy conditions.
As the sprouts develop along the stem, remove any yellowing or damaged leaves to improve air circulation and promote sprout growth. Proper spacing between plants is vital, as overcrowding can lead to smaller sprouts.
Lastly, monitor your Brussels sprouts as they mature, and harvest the sprouts from the bottom of the stalk upwards when they reach 1-2 inches in diameter. Following these care and maintenance practices will ensure a successful Brussels sprout growing season and a rewarding harvest for your homestead.
Harvesting and Storing Brussel Sprouts
When the sprouts are about 1-2 inches in diameter and still firm, it’s time to start picking. Begin from the bottom of the stalk and work your way up, gently snapping or cutting the sprouts off. Leave the smaller ones on the upper part of the stem to continue maturing. Fall frosts can actually enhance their flavor, so don’t rush the harvest if you live in a cooler climate. We actually leave our sprouts on the stalks in the garden until Christmas and simply harvest the sprouts as we need them.
After harvesting, Brussels sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks, but for longer-term storage, consider blanching and freezing them. To do this, briefly blanch the sprouts in boiling water, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process, and finally, freeze them in airtight containers or bags.
Alternatively, you can store harvested sprouts in a cool, dark root cellar or a cold storage area for several months. Properly stored Brussels sprouts can provide fresh and nutritious additions to your homestead’s meals well into the winter months.
Best Tips for Growing Brussel Sprouts
Below you can find the top tips to grow brussel sprouts:
- Choose the Right Location: Select a sunny spot with well-draining, fertile soil and a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5.
- Timing Is Key: Plant Brussels sprouts in late spring to early summer for a fall harvest, or in late summer for a winter harvest in mild climates.
- Proper Spacing: Plant seedlings 18-24 inches apart in rows spaced 24 inches apart to ensure adequate airflow and room for growth.
- Consistent Moisture: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during dry periods.
- Mulch for Moisture Retention: Apply mulch around the base of the plants to retain soil moisture, regulate temperature, and deter weeds.
- Pest Management: Regularly inspect for common pests like aphids and cabbage worms, and use organic pest control methods as needed.
- Provide Support: As the plants grow taller, consider staking or providing support to prevent toppling, especially in windy conditions.
- Remove Yellowing Leaves: Remove any yellowing or damaged leaves to improve air circulation and encourage sprout growth.
- Harvest Gradually: Begin harvesting when sprouts are 1-2 inches in diameter, starting from the bottom of the stalk and working your way up.
- Embrace Frost: In cooler climates, frost can enhance flavor, so don’t rush the harvest if frost is on the horizon.
- Storage Options: Store harvested sprouts in the refrigerator for short-term use or blanch and freeze them for long-term storage.
- Patience Pays Off: Brussels sprouts often taste better after exposure to colder temperatures, so be patient and savor their improved flavor.
Common Brussel Sprouts Problems and Solutions
Here are some of the most common Brussels sprouts problems and their corresponding solutions. Learning how to grow brussel sprouts includes keeping an eye on your plants through the year.
Problem: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can infest Brussels sprout plants, sucking sap from the leaves and causing them to curl and distort.
Solution: Spray affected plants with a strong stream of water to dislodge aphids. Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings to help control the population. Neem oil or insecticidal soap can also be applied for severe infestations.
Problem: Cabbage worms, including the imported cabbage worm and cabbage looper, can damage Brussels sprout leaves and sprouts by feeding on them.
Solution: Hand-pick cabbage worms from the plants or use row covers to prevent adult butterflies from laying eggs. Apply Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) or a spinosad-based insecticide as a last resort if the infestation is severe.
Problem: Brussels sprouts are susceptible to fungal diseases like powdery mildew and black rot, which can cause leaf damage and reduce yields.
Solution: Improve air circulation by proper spacing and pruning lower leaves to reduce humidity. Apply fungicides labeled for use on Brussels sprouts if fungal diseases persist, and ensure good sanitation practices to prevent the spread of disease.
Problem: Yellowing leaves may indicate nutrient deficiencies, especially nitrogen, or overwatering.
Solution: Maintain proper soil fertility with balanced fertilization. Yellowing leaves due to overwatering can be resolved by adjusting your watering schedule to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Problem: Clubroot is a soil-borne disease that causes swelling or club-like growths on the roots, leading to stunted growth and poor yields.
Solution: Practice crop rotation to avoid planting Brussels sprouts in the same location for several years. Choose clubroot-resistant varieties and amend the soil with lime to raise the pH and reduce clubroot severity.
Problem: Harvesting Brussels sprouts too late can result in over-mature, bitter sprouts, while harvesting too early can lead to small, underdeveloped sprouts.
Solution: Harvest Brussels sprouts when they reach 1-2 inches in diameter, starting from the bottom of the stalk and working your way up. Taste-test sprouts to ensure they are tender and flavorful.
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