Spring Growing Guides
Brussels Sprouts Growing Guide
|Seed Depth||Seed Spacing||Soil Temp for Germ.||Days to Germ.||Thin Plants To||Approximately 60-85 seeds per 1/4 gram.|
Brassica oleracea, Gemmifera Group
These innocent-looking mini cabbage look-alikes are packed with health-promoting goodness. Just over a cup of these flavorful 'buttons' contain nearly 150% of the RDA of vitamin K. They're also loaded with dietary fiber and the metabolite, indole-3-carbinol, an effective immune regulator, anti-bacterial & anti-viral agent.
CULTURE: The secret to a good sprout harvest is starting them so they mature later in the season when the days and nights are cooler. Savvy gardeners know the best Brussels sprouts are the ones harvested after plants have endured a couple of frosts (typically October). Cold snaps trigger changes that make the sprouts sweet as sugar. They grow best in a soil pH of 6.0 and do best when not over-stimulated by excess nitrogen, which causes discolored, loose buds.
FOR TRANSPLANTS: Start indoors or in the greenhouse 4-6 weeks before your last hard frost. Plant in 4 inch pots using a sterile seedling mix. Apply an all purpose liquid fertilizer to transplants. See our fertilizer section for options. Transplant out in rows 18-36 inches apart. Work in 1/4-1/2 cup of our complete fertilizer around the base of each plant.
TO DIRECT SOW: Plant both early and late maturing varieties directly in the garden between mid-May and June. Plant the seed in rows 18-36 inches apart. When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall thin the row.
INSECTS: See Brassica Insect Information below.
DISEASE: Cole crops are all vulnerable to fungal and viral diseases. The best prevention is to use sterile seedling mixes, clean beds after harvest, and practice crop rotation.
HARVEST: High quality sprouts should be bright green (except for Rubine), firm, and well formed. Begin picking at the bottom, breaking off a leaf below the sprout and then removing the sprout. The upper sprouts will continue to mature as the lower ones are harvested. On later maturing varieties, it's important not to take off the leaves, as they protect the plant from inclement winter weather. For a once-over harvest, pinch out the growing point at the top of the stem when the lower sprouts are 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter. A stem loaded with full-sized sprouts will develop in about 2 weeks. As with many Brassicas, sharp frosts enhance sugar content and increase tenderness. High quality fresh sprouts will keep approximately 3-4 weeks at 32°F.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 75%. Days to maturity are calculated from date of transplant; add 25-35 days if direct seeding. Usual seed life: 3-4 years.
Brassica Insect Information
Aphids: Control aphids with a hard spray of water, Azatrol or Pyrethrin. Also, select varieties that mature later in the season when aphid populations decline.
Cabbage worms, loopers, and root maggots: The first sign of cabbage worms will be white diamond-back moths fluttering near the plants. They lay eggs in the soil, which hatch into worms that can cause severe root and head damage. To control light infestations, spray plants with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). For heavy infestations, bait cabbage worms by mixing wheat bran into a BT solution. Add 1 tablespoon of molasses. Broadcast the bran mixture around the base of plants. Reapply as necessary. Using Reemay or Grow Guard 20 can also provide control.
Flea beetles: Flea beetles chew tiny pinholes in leaves. Early control is essential to minimize the damage. Spray young plants with Pyrethrin every 2 days. Using floating row covers such as Summer Insect Barrier can also provide control.
Symphylans: In some areas of the US, symphylans (also known as garden centipede) can severely retard the plant growth of cole crops. Only 1/4 inch long, white, and very active, they eat the root hairs of developing plants. Contact your local county extension agent if you suspect you have a problem.