Brassica oleracea gemmifera
The sprouts form where a leaf grows out of the stalk. They appear on the bottom of the stalk first. To encourage early sprouts, break off all the lower branches to a height of about 6 or 8 inches as soon as you see a sprout begin to form. This will encourage taller plants, and therefore more sprouts, and also allow the plant to put more energy into the developing sprouts.
Brussels sprouts need a cool growing season, and is not suitable for subtropical climates. Ideal temperatures are not more than 77 degrees during the day and not less than 50 degrees at night.
Plant in a well drained, sunny location. Sandy soils may produce leafy vegetables with no hearts.
Soil should be of a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Prepare the bed with manures and compost and provide extra nitrogen supplement if the soil is sandy. Hill the soil around plants during the growing period to prevent wind damage. If you prefer your sprouts to ripen all at the same time, break off the terminal bud when the plant is 16 inches tall.
Sow seeds, well spaced, in seed trays or flats. Transplant seedlings when 4 inches tall during the summer to autumn in cooler climates and during summer to early autumn in warmer zones.
The plant needs a great deal of water and cool moist air to encourage growth. Ease off on watering a week or two before harvesting.
Work in plenty of manure. Poultry manure is especially good. Add extra nitrogen at picking times and potash if the soil has leached.
- Pests and Diseases
Harvest period is late summer through to spring providing the weather is not too hot in which case the harvest time will be shorter. Mature sprouts are harvested frequently, especially in warmer zones, and are picked before they burst, starting at the bottom of the stem where mature sprouts first develop.