Brussels sprout is a member of the cabbage family of Gemmifra Group. Plant Brussels sprouts are relatively easy and do not require much space in the backyard. Like any other organic vegetable, Brussels sprouts are rich in fibres, vitamins, antioxidants, etc.
Winter crops are increasing in demand globally, and Brussels sprouts, being a winter crop, are expected to rise in order as well, making it relatively profitable economically.
Plant Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts require a long growing season and are ideal to be harvested in fall or early winters.
Sow Brussels sprouts seeds around four months before the first fall frost. For a region where temperatures are mostly below freezing, seeds should be sown indoors two to three weeks before the last date of spring frost. In areas of mild winters or warm winters, sow seeds outdoors in mid-summer and late-summer, respectively. Brussels sprouts thrive in full sunlight.
For winter crops, raised beds are recommended as planting spaces, especially when seasons or temperatures are not consistent. Add a few inches of compost or manure into the soil and work it in well a few days before planting the seeds or transplanting.
Direct sowing seeds must be planted ½ inch deep and two to three inches apart, whereas transplanted seedlings should be planted 12 to 14 inches apart.
Water consistently at the time of planting outside and 1 to 1½ inches per week after that.
Brussels sprouts Care
- Once the plant is six inches tall, thin them out, so they are 12 to 14 inches apart.
- Fertilize every 3 to 4 weeks with a nitrogen-rich product.
- To retain soil moisture and keep the soil temperature down, use mulch.
- Plants must be kept well-watered during hot climates.
- Brussels sprout roots are susceptible to damage since they are shallow, so be careful not to disturb them.
- Remove any yellowing leaves, so the stalk receives better sunlight.
- Cut off the top leaves a few weeks before harvesting.
- Leave the top leaves intact if harvest if for winter, to protect from snows.
- If the harvest is for winter, use almost 12 inches of mulch to cover the plants.
Harvest the sprouts after the frost passes, when they are almost 1 inch in diameter. Frost allows sprouts to taste sweeter and add a flavour to the vegetable. Sprouts must be harvested from the bottom first as they mature from bottom to top. To harvest, twist the vegetable off the stem.
Avoid washing Brussels sprouts before storing them. Freshly picked shoots can be kept in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Brussels sprout plants often encounter the same pests and diseases as cabbages; here is a few of them:
- Cabbage aphid
- Cabbage looper
- Diamondback moth
- Flea beetle
- Cabbage Aphid is an insect that causes stunted growth, or eventual death may occur. If the infestation is small, it can be pruned. To avoid this problem, always check transplants before planting, use tolerant seeds, or spray water with intense pressure to knock them off the leaves. If the infestation is very high, use insecticides or insecticidal soap and oils.
- Cabbage loopers are insects that leave holes in the leaves. These can be handpicked if problematic otherwise should be allowed to be held in check by natural enemies. Bacillus thuringiensis application is also an effective control method.
- Diamondback moths caused by insects and younger larvae that feed on the leaves’ upper and lower sides cause holes on both sides of the leaves, whereas older larvae leave the upper side intact and cause huge holes underside. They can be taken care of by organic applications like Entrust.
- Flea beetles are shiny insects that can reduce growth or kill the plants if the damage is severe. Young plants and seedlings are more vulnerable to injury. To avoid this problem, using floating row covers or covering the soil in mulch is useful.
- Alternaria leaf spot
- Black rot
- Downy mildew
- Alternaria leaf spot is a fungal disease that causes dark spots on leaves or angular and round lesions on the stem and petioles. Planting pathogen-free seeds or using crop rotation are ways to avoid this problem, whereas for management, use fungicides.
- Black rot is a bacterial disease that causes seedlings to develop yellowing and wilted leaves; it also leaves V-shaped lesions on the leaves’ margins. Management for this problem includes crop rotation and the use of disease-free seeds.
- Clubroot is a fungal disease that slows the growth and turns the leaves yellowish with distorted and swollen roots. Using certified seeds for plantation and applying lime to the soil can help against the disease.
- Downy mildew is also a fungal disease that causes angular lesions on the leaves’ upper side, which eventually enlarge into yellow patches. The use of proper fungicide and crop rotation are possible solutions.
- Fall is the most suitable time for the growth of Brussels sprouts.
- Brussels sprouts must get at least a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight.
- Plant them about 2 inches apart.
- Add stakes so the plant can support itself once it becomes heavy.
- The soil must be well-drained.
- Do not fertilize too often; once a month is enough.
Types of Brussels Sprouts
- Tasty nuggets
- Long Island improved
- Long Island
- Jade cross
The following are some health benefits provided by Brussels sprouts:
- Rich in nutrients like fibres, proteins, carbs, manganese, etc.
- They are enriched with antioxidants that promote good health.
- Studies prove that the nutrients in Brussels sprouts can help prevent cancer.
- They are high in Vitamin C, which provides immense benefits like increased absorption of iron.
- It is high in fibre quantity that promotes better digestion system.
Brussels sprouts are found in a wide variety and used in many different recipes, which increases their importance. They can be roasted, cooked, or boiled, etc.
As the world’s population increases, the demand for food is expected to rise as well. Locally produced winter crops are already in high demand, and therefore Brussels sprouts are too.
Brussels sprouts are easy to grow and do not require any extreme conditions or high investments but result in a vast production. Their medical and economic benefits are immense. Plant Brussels sprouts beneficial as a crop for sale as well as for domestic use.