How to Grow Brussels Sprouts That Will Make You Say, "Booyah!"
Bursting with vitamins C and K and disease-fighting compounds, Brussels sprouts are among the healthiest foods you can grow. They’re also one of the strangest-looking.
Reaching several feet tall, the plant’s lone stalk appears to be decorated with dozens of mini cabbages and collards-like leaves. Which makes sense — it’s a close relative of both cabbage and collards.
As we know it today, this curious crop was likely cultivated in 13th century Belgium. (Thus, Brussels sprouts.) But its precursor may have actually been first raised in ancient Rome.
Want to learn the basics of growing your own Brussels sprouts? Read on.
When to Grow Brussels Sprouts
Since Brussels sprouts are considered a cool season crop, you can successfully grow them in either early spring or fall. The latter is generally preferable, however, as Brussels sprouts mature best in brisk or even frosty conditions. (Conversely, warmer temperatures tend to produce sprouts that are loose and bitter.)
Regardless of when you plant, be prepared to wait. Brussels sprouts typically take about three months before they start producing harvestable heads. But don’t worry — your patience will pay off! One plant can yield a whopping 3 pounds of sprouts.
To begin, plant two or three Brussels sprouts seeds per moistened rockwool cube. Within 14 days, your seeds should germinate. When they do, place the seedlings in full sun or under grow lights to encourage healthy growth. (Get step-by-step seedling growing tips here.)
You can transplant your Brussels sprouts seedlings when they’re about three inches tall and have roots growing from the bottom of the rockwool cube. Since the crop grows quite large, we recommend planting it at the bottom of your Tower Garden.
Preventing Pests and Brussels Sprouts Growing Pains
Like many other cruciferous crops, Brussels sprouts are susceptible to common garden pests and plant diseases, including the following:
- Cabbage loopers
- Diamondback moth
- Harlequin bugs
- Powdery mildew
But if you follow these simple steps, you can easy prevent and treat such problems. Also keep in mind that Brussels sprouts will be most pest-resilient (and productive) with at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts
After about 90 days, you should start to notice little buds — the sprouts! — growing along your plant’s main stalk above the base of each leaf. Once they reach about 1–2 inches in diameter, harvest these by twisting until they snap off of the stalk. You can also remove them with a sharp knife. Cutting away leaves around the sprouts may make this process a little easier. (Pro tip: You can save and cook these nutrient-rich leaves as you would collard greens.)
If you want to accelerate sprout development for some reason — if a hard freeze is coming, for example — simply cut off the top few inches of your plant. This will encourage it to focus on maturing the remaining sprouts over the following weeks.
Ready to enjoy your yield? Brussels sprouts are notorious for having a strong, sulfur-like flavor and smell. But this is actually a result of overcooking, which amplifies the glucosinolate sinigrin (an organic compound that contains sulfur) in the crop.
To prevent that from happening, try halving and then lightly roasting or sautéing your Brussels sprouts. Simple seasonings such as lemon juice, salt, and olive oil can really make the dish shine!
Over to You
We hope this guide helps you grow your own beautiful, bountiful Brussels sprouts. Do you have any questions or comments? Let us know below.
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