The Vegetable Garden


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Brussel Sprouts

brusselsBrussels sprouts are a strange looking little plant. The plant produces large upper leaves above a long stem with small sprouts growing out of the stem that look like miniature cabbages. They are in the same family as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.

The dwarf type is commonly grown in the United States. Taller varieties require longer growing seasons than the dwarf varieties.

Varieties

Hybrid:

  • Bubbles (82 days, tolerates warm weather)
  • Jade Cross (90 days, resistant to yellows)
  • Jade Cross E (90 days; sprouts larger)
  • Oliver (85 days; easy-to-pick, attractive sprouts)
  • Prince Marvel (90 days; sweet sprouts)
  • Royal Marvel (85 days; tight sprouts; very productive)
  • Valiant (90 days; uniform sprouts)

Open-pollinated:

  • Long Island Improves (90 days)
  • Rubine (105 days; not very productive)

When to plant

In the south where temperatures stay above 20 degrees at night, brussels sprouts can be planted in the fall and survive through mild winters until spring.  In other planting zones, the planting date should be calculated by counting backward 16 weeks from the estimated date of the first fall frost.  The goal is to harvest after that first frost.

Spacing and Depth

Start brussels sprouts seeds indoors about 4 weeks before bringing outside.  You can plant directly outside at this time, but will need to cover the young plants to protect them from the cold and frost. When transplanting, space the plants about 1 to 2 feet apart.  Rows should be about 2 feet apart.

Care

Use fertilizer once to give the plants a boost to get through the heat of summer and make sure they get plenty of water.  Be careful weeding around your sprouts as the sprouts themselves form close to the base of the plant.

Harvesting

The small sprouts can be harvested when they are about 1 to 2 inches in diameter.  Harvest the sprouts when they are firm and before the leaves turn yellow. 

Common Problems

Aphids and cabbage worms may visit your brussels sprouts so be prepared to treat your plants with an insecticide.