About Brussels Sprouts
Brussel sprout or Brussel sprouts is a common mispelling of this particular vegetable (should be Brussels for both). The name originates from the city of Brussels, Belguim where it has long been popular, and may have originated from. Brussels sprouts are an annual cool season crop, hardy to frosts and light freezes. There are two basic varieties: (1) the dwarf ("Jade Cross") which matures early and is winter hardy, but more difficult to harvest and (2) the taller ("Long Island Improved"), which is less hardy but easier to harvest.
Brussels sprouts have shallow roots, so as they become top heavy, you may need to stake them, particularly if exposed to strong winds. As with other brassicas, Brussels Sprouts are susceptible to pests and diseases that must be kept under control early in the season. As with other brassicas, composting roots should be avoided. Brussels Sprouts should not be grown within a 10 foot radius of any brassica growing location within the last 3 years, preferably 7 years. Brussels Sprouts are high in calcium and iron, as well as a good source of vitamins A and C.
When to Plant
Start seed indoors in early May so plants are ready to set out in June or early July. The sprouts develop best in cool weather.
How to Plant
In rows 3 feet apart, with 30 inches between the plants.
Harvesting Brussels Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts generally take about 3 months until they are ready to harvest. The sprouts will mature from the bottom up. When sprouts first appear, the lower leaf should be cut off. The sprouts should be picked green when about an inch or so in diameter. To pick them, you can either twist them off, or better yet get a sharp knife and cut them off. Each plant should yield about 1 quart of sprouts. Harvest continues well into the cold fall months. Light snow does not seem to stop their developing, and even improves their flavor. Harvests of frozen sprouts from plants in January have been reported.
For maximum vitamin C, harvest when the temperature is around freezing. Some say never to harvest unless you've had at least two frosts, because frost improves flavor. It has also been reported that sprouts can be harvested through the summer and still be tender, if continuously picked when they reach the size of marbles. If you want to harvest all at once instead of continuously, cut or pinch off the stalk top 4-8 weeks before your intended harvest time. After harvest, remove the entire plant from the ground to minimize the chance of disease next season. Some gardeners in severely cold climates may prefer to dig plants still loaded with sprouts and keep them in a cool, light place where they will continue to ripen.