Brussels Sprouts

Mar / Apr
Jan / Feb, Mar / Apr, Sep / Oct, Nov / Dec
Indoors | Outdoors

Why Grow It

While many people will only associate Brussels sprouts with Christmas dinner, you can (and should) enjoy this veg for most of the year. Not only are their tons of nutritional benefits from eating sprouts, they also play a vital role in the winter veg garden for many GIYers.

While they do have a long growing season (8 months), they are extremely prolific – just three or four plants will produce a mound of produce in the lean winter months, with each healthy plant producing up to 2kg of sprouts.

  • Dig in some well-rotted manure or apply a general fertiliser a week before sowing.
  • Do not grow Brussels sprouts anywhere that you have grown any member of the cabbage family the previous year (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collards and kale). The best way to manage all these veg is to create a crop rotation scheme prior to growing.
  • Sow in March or April in module trays indoors.
  • Sow one seed per module, 2cm deep.
  • Transplant when plants are around 15cm high (this should be 4-6 weeks after sowing).
  • Space plants at least 60cm apart – don’t be tempted to space plants any closer as they need the space.
  • Water well to start and keep weeds down.
  • If you have an exposed plot earth up the stems in late summer to give the plant more support.
  • Sprouts can be harvested from September through to March, if you choose appropriate varieties.
  • If you’re after some sprouts for Christmas, make sure you choose a variety that crops in December.
  • The top of the stem can be removed and eaten, which will cause sprouts to expand.
  • Ideally you should remove the top of the stems 4-6 weeks prior to harvesting the sprouts.
  • Harvest sprouts from the bottom of the plant first, as soon as they are ready to eat – snap them off by pulling downwards.
  • Sprouts, like all of the cabbage (brassica) family has a wide range of pests and diseases.
  • If you don’t want to spray with poisonous chemicals the following should keep them healthy.
  • Make sure the ground is clear and slug free when transplanting – use a less toxic slug killer like iron phosphate if slugs seem to be a problem.
  • Use an insect mesh net to keep out cabbage fly, butterflies, aphids and pigeons.
  • When you remove the plant, smash the stem up with a hammer before composting, otherwise it will take forever to break down.
  • Don’t boil the life out of your sprouts when cooking – cut them in half, blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water and then fry them in some butter with a little chopped garlic.