Brussels are among the winter staples and favourite in traditional festivals – with the numerous jokes that surround this vegetable. However, you can enjoy its best taste when you harvest it after a frost. Most importantly, the Brussels sprouts grown in your home garden have a far superior taste to the ones you buy from the market.
Sowing Brussels Sprouts
Sowing time for Brussels ranges from early March to April. The earlier that you can sow, the better the crop that you will get. Therefore, you should choose late or at least mid-season cultivars to provide a long growing season to your crop.
If you want to have early harvesting in August, sow the crop in modular trays or pots in the greenhouse in February.
Traditionally, a separate seedbed is the best option to sow Brussels. However, you can transplant them in your main vegetable garden in early summer.
Follow these tips while sowing the Brussels:
- Sow the seeds 6 inches apart (15 cm) in rows.
- Sow the seeds ½ inch deep.
- Thin out the young seedlings when they are large enough. Make sure seedlings are spaced 3 inches (approx. 8 cm) apart to give them enough room to grow.
Growing Brussels Sprouts
Most probably, the plants will be 10-15cm tall from mid-May to early June. That is the time when you should transplant them to the vegetable garden. The site where Brussels are transplanted should be sunny and resistant to strong winds.
Here’re the tips that you need to follow for better growth of Brussels:
- Add two bucketfuls of mulch (well-rotted manure) in every square metre/yard.
- Apply 150g of general-purpose fertiliser in each square metre/yard. “Growmore” is one the best general-purpose fertiliser that you can use.
- Water the Brussels before you transplant them to give them a head start.
- Make sure the plants in a row are 2 feet (60 cm) apart.
- Make sure the rows are 2½ft (75 cm) apart.
- Water your crop regularly until it has established.
- Water the crop every 10-14days in dry weather – even more if you feel it needs it. Give it a really good soaking.
- Apply high nitrogen fertiliser in July. You can use dried poultry manure pellets as a nitrogen-rich fertiliser.
- Support the stem base with soil in September.
Harvesting Brussels Sprouts
The best time to harvest the early cultivars is August. However, if you have used late cultivars, you will get the best taste after their sprouts have been frosted.
When it comes to how to harvest, follow these tips:
Firstly, pick the lowest sprouts. However, while picking, make sure the sprouts are firm, tightly packed.
- Start picking the lowest sprouts first, when they are the size of a walnut, firm and still tightly closed.
- Tug downward to remove them.
- Harvest the sprout tops at the end of the season.
Caterpillars, especially the white cabbage butterfly, eat brassicas. These holes even invade up to the cabbage heart. They make holes in the leaves. So, you will see either holes or caterpillars on the broccoli crop.
- Pick the caterpillars with your hand if it is a mild attack.
- Fine netting (with 5-7mm mesh size) and insect-proof mesh help prevent egg-lying.
Birds, especially pigeons, can cause damage to the crop. As you are aware, they can eat seedlings, fruit, buds, leaves, and vegetables.
- Cover the plants with fleece or net.
- Bird-scaring or scarecrows could also help.
The plants with clubroot show the following symptoms:
- Roots become distorted and swollen.
- Leaves become pale yellow.
Even the death of the plant may also occur with this disease.
- Add lime to the soil. Lime will make the soil alkaline.
- Improve drainage.
- Grow the plants in pots.
- Avoid growing the plant in affected soil.
Cabbage root fly
It primarily affects the seedlings. The white larvae of cabbage root fly eat the roots. As a result,
- The growth of the plants become affected.
- The plant will wilt or die.
Use horticulture fleece and insect-free netting over the crops. You can also buy collars to put around the base of the plants. CLICK HERE to find out more (we are not affiliates).
If you would like some inspiration on how to cook your harvest of brussels sprouts, hop over to the BBC Good Food Guide
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