Brassica oleracea (Gemmifera Group)
Brussels sprouts require a long growing season and do best in a cool climate. They prefer full sun and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. It's essential to enrich the soil with compost or well-rotted manure before planting.
Plant Brussels sprouts in early to mid-summer for a harvest that extends into fall or early winter. In areas with mild winters, planting can be delayed for a winter or early spring harvest.
Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date, then transplant them into the garden when they are 4-6 inches tall and the soil temperature is at least 50°F (10°C). Space the plants 18-24 inches apart in rows 30-36 inches apart. Consistent watering is crucial for development, especially as the sprouts begin to form.
For a comprehensive guide on growing Brussels sprouts, please refer to our detailed Brussels sprouts grow guide.
Diseases, Insects, and Weeds
Common issues include cabbage worms, aphids, and powdery mildew. Regular inspections and organic or chemical treatments can manage these problems. Crop rotation and maintaining clean growing conditions are vital to prevent disease.
Brussels sprouts are ready to harvest when the heads are firm, green, and 1-2 inches in diameter. Harvest from the bottom of the stalk upwards, removing the sprouts by twisting them off. For improved flavor, wait until after the first frost to begin harvesting.
Storage and Preservation
Brussels sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. For longer storage, they can be blanched for 3-5 minutes, cooled in ice water, drained, and then frozen. They can also be pickled or fermented for an extended shelf life.