How to grow Brussels Sprouts! Love them or hate them, Brussels Sprouts are here to stay! They are the most controversial of vegetables, dividing opinion for decades! This is true in my house too. 3 of us love them, 3 of us don’t ! I love them btw, and not just for Christmas, I would happily eat them all year round! This is how I grow them…
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Brussels Sprouts Origins
If you read my French Toast Post or my Swiss Chard post you will know that the title of a recipe or vegetable is not always indicative of the subjects origins. It can get quite confusing! But I am happy to report, in this case, Brussels Sprouts are in fact true to their namesake!
They did indeed originate in Brussels, Belgium. Records trace them back as early as the 13th century in Brussels. At the time, Farmers were pushed for space and needed a crop that could be grown in-between crops. Brussels sprouts originally stemmed from a wild species of cabbage originating in Afghanistan. Through crossbreeding the Brussels Sprout plant was developed, its characteristic vertical growth habit was an ideal solution for the space issue.
Brussels Sprouts weren’t introduced to the British Isles until the late nineteenth century- we wasted no time in Catching up! The Brits eat more Sprouts than any other European country!
How long do Brussels Sprouts take to grow ?
Brussels Sprouts have a fairly long growing season, your talking 80–100 days to harvest. Sprouts are a cool season crop and best harvested after a light frost. Believe it or not, the frost helps improve the flavour.
How many Brussels Sprouts grow per plant
It is impossible to say exactly how many, but you can expect up to 50 sprouts per plant.
Most Common Brussels Sprouts Problems
- Poor, slow growth -give them some additional feeding with a high nitrogen fertiliser(manure) may help to remedy the problem.
- Cabbage White Fly is a common pest on sprouts, these little darlings love to burrow and ruin perfectly good Brussels Sprouts Plants. There is very little that can be done to fix this, so it is best to work on prevention rather than remedy, be sure to cover your crops with insect mesh. For extra protection place collars that go around the base of the Plant which stops the fly laying her eggs on the roots
- Cabbage White Butterflies can cause a lot of damage to sprouts. Again insect netting is the best line of defence. I love these Net Bag covers
- Collapsing Sprout plants can be an issue in high winds, be sure to stake your plants to avoid any damage
How to grow Brussels Sprouts
I like to start my seeds off in March- April on a sunny windowsill indoors, sow seeds in modules or pots 2 cms deep, it takes around 7-14 days, sometimes sooner for germination.
Plant out after the last frost, around May-June. Allow plenty of space for them to grow, around 60 cm between plants should be sufficient. Be sure to harden off before hand…
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
Brussels Sprouts Soil and light requirements
Sprouts like a firm, neutral or alkaline soil so prepare your bed well in advance. Dig over and dig in plenty of well-rotted manure for a Nitrogen fix your sprouts will love!
Grow in full sun for best results
When to Harvest Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are ready to harvest when the heads are firm, green and around 1-2 inches in diameter. Remove Brussels sprouts by twisting them until they break away from the plant.
Brussels Sprouts Companion planting
Brussels sprouts are members of the Cruciferae family, which also includes Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, and Cauliflower. These vegetables also make great bed buddies for Brussels sprouts simply because they have similar nutritional, light and water requirements.
Beetroot and Radish are also good bed Companions for Brussels Sprouts, taking up little room as they grow quite happily between the rows.
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