Brussels Sprouts are delicious if cooked well – home growing can convert even the most ardent sprout avoider! There are many really tasty and reliable F1 Hybrids available, which freeze well and with a bit of planning you could be harvesting right through the winter.
Where to grow
Brussels Sprouts thrive in an open sunny position that is protected from strong winds.
Dig the soil well and incorporate well-rotted manure of garden compost in Autumn. Sprouts do not grow well in acidic soil so add lime if necessary to bring the pH up to 6.5-7
Sow outside in a nursery bed from early to mid spring. Start by sowing the early varieties and successionally sow mid season and later varieties in turn. Sow thinly in rows 1cm deep with 15cm between rows.
After germination, thin out the seedlings to 8cm apart. Transplant when the seedlings are 10cm high – watering well the previous day will help the seedlings lift easily – and Plant in rows with 75cm between plants - The space between rows is ideal for a catch crop such as salad.
Firm the soil well to prevent air pockets and help keep the plants stable.
For late summer picking start the sowing off in Rootrainers under glass in late winter. Harden off and plant outside when the young plants are 10cm high using cloches to protect during the early stages - Easy Tunnels are ideal if you plant in rows and for block planting an Easy Lantern Cloche will do the job well.
An Net Easy Tunnel will deter pigeons. Weed throughout the growing season and water in dry periods. Apply a foliar feed during the summer and stake any plants that need it. During the early Autumn draw the soil around the stems to steady the plants against the wind - A Micromesh Pest & Wind Barrier will give extra protection. Apply felt or plastic collars around the base of the plants to prevent cabbage root fly from laying it’s eggs
Harvesting and Storage
Start harvesting from the bottom of the plant, picking the sprouts when they are still tight, after the first frosts as this improves the flavour. Pick just a few from each plant and every time you harvest work further up the stem. When all the sprouts have been harvested you can cut off the top of the plant and use as you would cabbage.
Pest and diseases
Prone to the same problems as cabbages the main issue is Club Root – a soil borne fungal disease. Infected plants should be destroyed and not composted.
Small white butterfly caterpillar and aphids may also affect the crop. Protect the crop from butterflies with net and remove caterpillars by hand and I spray aphids with soapy water.