Learning how to grow Brussel sprouts is a process I never thought I would be interested in. Do you remember turning your nose up at Grandma’s Brussel sprouts as a kid? We just weren’t up for anything ‘green’ in those days. These vegetables that resemble little cabbages we now realize are super healthy for us with high levels of many nutrients.
Now it’s difficult to wait the long amount of time that it takes for these ever-so-slow growing vegetables to reach their maturity. It can take as much as 100 days for them to come full scale. But they are very well worth the time and effort that it takes to go through the homegrown process, and we’re going to learn how to take them from seed to your plate.
Tools That You’ll Need To Plant Your Brussel Sprouts
With Brussel Sprouts you will most oftentimes plant them directly into your garden as opposed to starting the seedlings inside the house.
There are not a whole lot of tools that are required for the process but here are some things that you definitely want by your side:
When you’re trying to figure out how to grow Brussel sprouts, you need to know that although they take a long time to mature, they love to grow in the cool temperatures. They will pop from the seed as the temp of the soil ranges from 45 to 80 degrees.
If you want to get a head start because of the amount of time they take to grow, don’t start from seeds — plant young plants. If you want to use seedlings rather than young plants, that means that you will want to sow directly into your garden in either mid or late summer in order to have a fall harvest. It would equal to approximately between 6 and 10 weeks prior to the first frost.
Brussel sprouts like soil that is constantly moist as well as rich and enjoy full sun. Plants that are in the cabbage family such as sprouts, broccoli, kale, etc. are prone to a broad category of soil-based diseases. For this reason, you don’t want to plant your sprouts in areas where you had previously planted anything cabbage related.
How To Plant Brussel Sprouts
When the time has come to plant, follow these steps in your attempts at how to grow Brussel sprouts:
- Sow your seeds either ¼” or ½” deep and keep them 4” apart in raised beds within your garden or in rows. Seeds can take upwards of approximately a week to start to sprout. Do this approximately 6 to 10 weeks prior to the first frost.
- After the seedlings have developed two different sets of leaves, thin them to between 1 or 2 feet spacing.
- If planting small plants as opposed to seedlings, space the plants approximately 18” or 24” apart from each other within the garden.
- Water completely after the planting process and then place mulch at the base of each one of the plants in order to allow the soil to hold the moisture and avoid weeds by blocking the sun. You’ll want to reduce the moisture as the sprouts begin to mature.
- Feeding the Brussel sprouts should be done prior to planting them in the garden and then at the midseason. Well-aged compost should be used to side dress the plants or feed them with an organic fertilizer.
Mature plants tend to get a bit heavy causing them to flop over for which it would benefit them to be staked individually using a heavy bamboo stake, rebar, wood stake, and tie with a loose twine.
Watering Your Sprouts
Brussel sprouts will shrivel up if their soil is allowed to get too dry which is why regular watering is essential to achieving a large harvest. Once the top inch becomes dry, you’ll know it’s time for more water. Keep check often.
Harvesting Your Sprouts
It generally takes approximately 90 days for you to see the sprouts begin the ripening process. You can snip them off at the 1 or 2 inch diameter beginning at the bottom working up. As the plant grows mature, the leaves have a tendency of turning yellow and you’ll want to snip those leaves off.
To have all plants harvest together, pinch the top terminal bud at approximately 15 to 20 inches tall or around 4 weeks prior to harvest. Keep your unwashed sprouts inside the fridge. You shouldn’t wash buds until you’re actually ready to use them. They will keep for approximately 3 to 4 weeks if you save them in an air-tight bowl or plastic bag. Sprouts can also last for upwards of 4 months frozen after they’ve been blanched.
You may start to notice cabbage worms or caterpillars on your plants as they’re growing. All plants in the cabbage family are particularly susceptible to these critters. In order to control cabbage worms, you need to keep watch of the plants on a regular basis and pluck the worms off by hand.
You can also dust the plants with bacillus thuringiensis which will kill the worms during the growth season (reapply after it has rained). You can also cover your plants with row cover or garden fabric to protect them from the worms or other predators, e.g. the flea beetles, aphids, cutworms. Keep cutworm collars on young plants.
After you learn how to grow Brussel sprouts, it really doesn’t seem that difficult as long as you watch them to make sure their soil stays moist, protect them from the vermin that tend to go after them, and keep mulch around them to avoid weeds.
Brussel sprouts are a staple you want to have in your garden for the sheer protein and vitamins that they offer. Your kids will grow to love them just as much as we did in time. If you liked this article, let us know in the comments, and let us know how your growing process worked out for you!