Growing Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts originated during the thirteenth century from the region around Belgium and were named after the capital city Brussels. As they look like miniature cabbages, their growing method is exactly same. The Brussels Sprouts are highly enriched in Vitamins A and C, folic acid, and fiber and are possibly next best cruciferous after Kale. Brussels sprouts prefer cooler weather, developing best in the Pacific coastal regions and in northern climate zones such as NY State or precisely in the Province of Ontario, Canada.
In warmer weather areas, Brussels sprouts are planted in mid-summer for a fall harvest because they should be harvested in cooler autumn weather. There are heat resistant varieties are developed which may be harvested in the summer, but there remains a possibility that the crop may get bitter in high summer temperatures, so its better to plant them before the average frost weather comes in. In the autumn, when harvesting, Brussels sprouts should be exposed to several touches of frost cycles as the cold weather brings out the sweet flavor of the crops. In the deep south, the crop can be harvested in winter months for an early spring yield.
Brussels sprouts require full sun, at least 8 hours daily, with minimal shade. The successful planting of Brussels sprouts is generally found in cooler weather areas. Brussels sprout planting is preferred when there are haven’t been any other cruciferous grown for past 2 to 3 years. Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) are members of the same family as Brussels sprout is i.e. cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, and cauliflower to mention a few. Brussels sprouts need well-draining soil which is rich in organic matter and high in nitrogen that can be supplied with abundant amounts of compost and/or composted manure. They grow best from soils with a pH level around 6.0 to 7.5.
The pH value above 6.5 helps to avoid clubroot disease from the crops. Applying lime brings up the pH value if required and may be considered as an assisted treatment.
While cropping, after marking the rows, spread a number of inches of compost or composted manure from precisely on rows and rotate or spade it under. This should supply the necessary nutrients to the sprouts.
Check with your county office to see if there have been any diseases or other obstacles to developing Brussels sprouts in your area. Powdery Mildew, Light Leaf Spot, and Rust have been common diseases for Brussels sprouts, so check to see if there have been problems with these diseases and if so, apply the necessary prevention or treatment.
Renu Joshi, Ph. D.