Brussels sprouts are high in fiber which is essential to maintain optimal intestinal health. Vitamins C and K, minerals, and antioxidants are power-packed into one single cup of Brussel sprouts. This vegetable may also come with added health benefits, including the potential to reduce the risk of cancer.
It has also been proven that Brussel sprouts counteract histaminic properties and reduce inflammation. 78 grams of these sprouts (one cup) contains 6 grams of carbs and 28 calories. Considering all these health benefits, they are surprisingly relatively simple to grow by yourself in your garden.
Brussel Sprouts: Plant Profile
Brussel sprouts belong to the cruciferous mustard plant family, namely Brassicaceae. Other plants in the same family include broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy. Brussel sprouts themselves look like miniature cabbages and are a staple of the holiday season.
Brussel sprouts are often components of side dishes and entrées, but sometimes they can be part of the main dish too. Sautéed Brussel sprouts on a chilly winter morning are a delicacy and an absolute treat. They are not just nutritious but also easy to cook, making it a hassle-free option.
How To Grow Brussel Sprouts: Planting the Sprouts
Planting Brussel sprouts is not a daunting task by any means. However, care has to be taken to ensure that they are not grown as companion plants to pepper.
The brussel sprouts mature best in cool and mild frosty weather. Whereas, Brussel sprouts harvested in humid and hot weather will have a characteristic bitter taste.
If Growing Outdoors
Brussel sprouts and other plants in the cruciferous Brassicaceae family (such as kale, collards, or broccoli) are vulnerable to soil-bred pathogens. Thus, it’s essential to rotate among various areas of the garden each season. Don’t plant Brussel sprouts where you last grew anything in the cruciferous family.
- Step 1: Plant Brussel sprouts during the cool days of early spring.
- Step 2: Before planting, improve the quality of soil by adding nitrogen-rich compost or humus. This will ensure better yield of the crop.
- Step 3: Cruciferous crops need ample space to grow and to spread out. Space the Brussel sprouts 18- 24 inches apart.
- Step 4: Ensure that you are planting in an area that gets 6 or more hours of adequate sunlight daily. This will help increase the size of the sprouts.
- Step 5: Plant in well-drained, fertile soil that has a slightly acidic pH (6.5 to 6.8)
- Step 6: Check soil moisture regularly and give plants 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly.
- Step 7: Encourage an abundant harvest by feeding the Brussel sprouts regularly with some Epsom salt or plant-based fertilizers.
- Step 8: Lay down a 3-inch layer of mulch to retain soil moisture and prevent weeds.
- Step 9: Check on the budding sprouts daily to keep out pests and other pathogens.
If Growing Indoors
Get the seeds of the dwarf Brussel sprout varieties of containers. This will enable you to learn how to grow Brussel sprouts indoors. Plant seeds in the seed pots or directly in the desired containers to start the planting process.
- Step 1: For the germination of seeds, ensure the temperature is in the range of 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 to 30 degrees Celsius.
- Step 2: Get a standard planter sized at approximately 6 gallons for the brussel sprouts. This is mandatory if you want to flourish in successfully growing healthy Brussel sprouts indoors. Remember, only one plant can blossom such sized containers. To grow more than one of these plants at a time, a 15-gallon pot is your best bet.
- Step 3: Sow the seeds at least half an inch beneath the potting soil.
- Step 4: Wait for 2 to 4 days for the seedlings to rise and break through the soil. This may also take 5-20 days.
- Step 5: Once the seedlings have shown their first pair of leaves, thin them and save the healthiest ones.
- Step 6: Once the seedlings grow to a height of a few inches, you can transplant them outside.
Don’t have enough space or not in the mood to go through the hassle of growing Brussel sprouts indoors? Consider opting for transplants in a nursery in your surrounding vicinity.
How to Grow Brussel Sprouts: Basic Requirements
Once you are done with Brussel sprout planting, there are still certain things to consider. After the how to plant Brussel sprouts section comes the how to grow Brussel sprouts section. This section discusses how to grow Brussel sprouts in terms of its soil, water, light, temperature, and fertilizer requirements.
The area in which Brussel sprouts are planted can make or break the growth of the plant. For DIY gardeners residing in a region with particularly cold winters, plant the seeds indoors at least a couple of weeks before the final spring frost. For regions dealing with mediocre winters, plant the seeds outdoors in mid-summer. This should yield a fall harvest.
However, if you are living in regions with hotter temperatures, consider planting the seeds outdoors in the summer season to attain a harvest in late winter.
Brussel sprouts like other Brassicaceae plants, like fertile, well-drained, moist soils with plenty of organic matter. The soil pH should be about 6.8, for optimum growth and to discourage clubroot disease. To be sure about pH, get the soil tested.
Brussel sprouts prefer temperatures between 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing temperatures and a light frost improves the flavor of these sprouting gemmules. Also, Brussel sprouts are not a warm-weather crop.
In addition to this, sprouts that mature during hot or humid weather will be bitter and flimsy.
Brussel sprouts grow best in full sun, but are capable of tolerating partial shade as well. Plants that receive fewer than 6 hours of sun daily will not have leaves that are as stocky as others. However, the taste of the plant will not be affected in either case.
Keep the soil around Brussel sprouts evenly moist to ensure high-quality yield. Water at the base of plants. Remember, Brussels sprouts require 1 inch of water each week or more.
A great tip is to mulch the plants during the summer to slow soil moisture evaporation and to keep the soil cool. Overwatering may cause the roots to rot.
Harvesting Brussel Sprouts
Now that you have learned how to grow Brussel sprouts, harvesting them is also a big task which will be covered here.
Sprouts grow in an acropetal manner. This process occurs over the course of several weeks. Brussel sprouts are ready to harvest when the tiny heads are firm, green, and 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
You can remove sprout heads by constantly twirling them one by one, till they snap from the stems. While you are in the process of extracting the lower sprouts or sprout heads, you can also extract infested or decaying leaves for a better harvest. This enables the plant to continue to grow upwards, producing more leaves and sprouts.
Tips to Boost Brussel Sprouts Harvest
Keep pruning the leaves to ensure bigger, stockier sprouts and a bounty harvest. Some planters take out every single leaf to amplify the speed and efficiency of the harvest, although this cannot be followed in a home garden. In case of a home garden, extract a maximum of 3 leaves each week.
Plenty of the healthiest fully grown higher-positioned leaves should always be left untouched. You can cover the plants with a frost blanket too. This ensures that the cold does not seep into the crop, but still sweetens the flavor.
Common Pests and Diseases to Look Out For
Cruciferous plants in general are highly susceptible to pests and other pathogens. It becomes essential to identify the onset of the symptoms of these diseases, to be able to treat them better.
The disease can completely devastate your crops before above ground symptoms become noticeable or prominent. Even worse, the infected roots are rendered incapable of letting water seep in and munching on nutrients too. Moreover, top growth is stunted.
Lower leaves near the root may yellow and drop off.
Alternaria Leaf Spot
Black spots make a target-like appearance, with black concentric circles emerging out. These also have a surrounding yellow halo. The fungus eats away at the plant, making the leaves vulnerable to wear and tear. The necrotic leaves soon get so decayed that they fall out on their own.
Black spots can also appear on Brussel sprout heads, making the product unmarketable.
Symptoms of black rot showcase an ugly, charred and smoky outlook all throughout the leaves. V-shaped yellow abrasions spread out centrally, slowly moving towards the ends. This destroys the leaves and makes them unable to transport water and nutrients that is essential for their sustenance.
The bacteria involved in propagating this disease likes to grow in moist conditions and can pose as a severe menace.
As fall approaches, these cabbage aphids emerge as a familiar nuisance. Although aphids are beneficial in a few cases, their disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
Tiny braconid wasps help with cabbage aphid control, but ladybeetle larvae and other aphid eaters avoid this species. This is primarily because aphids accumulate bitter mustard compounds as they feed on cabbage family crops.
You can try spraying them with various herbal oils to eliminate an infestation in the affected plant.
Cabbage Looper Or Army Worms
The green caterpillars that normally eat brussel sprouts are army worms or cabbage loopers. The larvae of these pests feeds on leaves, stems and roots of many crops. The caterpillars are dark green in color and always present in great numbers, slithering along leaves.
However, there is no effective insecticide against these pests. The only effective option is to use Bt Brussel sprouts, which is a genetically modified version of regular Brussel sprouts. It secretes an inactive toxin that gets activated in the caterpillar’s gut, killing it instantly.
You have already learned how to grow brussel sprouts with the help of this comprehensive guide. We have also given you a detailed description of the plant profile and its requirements. Investing in and adding the correct organic fertilizer enables the crop to thrive too.
Brussel sprouts taste the best on stir-frying. The oils enhance the mild sweetness of the plant, bringing out a rich aroma. Being nutritious and full of antioxidants, Brussel sprouts are a must-include option in your diet. You can snack on them or incorporate them into a meal, all as per your preference.
Brussels sprouts have had a culinary renaissance. Chefs have started featuring them and even children are starting to embrace the complex flavor of Brussels sprouts. Now that you know how to grow Brussel sprouts, you can be part of this healthy trend too.