How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are slow growing plants that do well in cool weather. The “fog belt” of the northwest is an ideal climate for Brussels sprouts, but they can be grown just about anywhere in the U.S. Seeds are usually planted in springtime but seedlings can be planted as late as early July. Here are some easy instructions on how to grow Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts mature best in cool weather. In colder climates, they do well with spring planting. For best results they may need to be planted in the fall in warmer regions. If they are left to mature in hot weather, they will taste bitter.

Brussels sprouts need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, but more is better. Choose a spot in your garden that gets good sun exposure, but a little shade, particularly in hotter climates, should be fine.

Brussels sprouts like well-drained, loose soil that is rich with organic matter. Till your garden well and fortify it with a good mature compost or organic fertilizer. Try to keep the pH of your soil around 6.8.

Brussels sprout seeds can be sown indoors or directly into your garden. Follow instructions on your seed packet. For most varieties, plant them about ½ inch deep and water well. Thin seedlings to about 2 feet apart once they reach 5 to 7 inches tall.

Brussels sprouts need lots of room to flourish. Space transplants at least 24 inches apart in rows at least 30 inches apart. Be sure to transplant into moist soil and try to do so on an overcast day to help ensure the roots don’t dry out. Plant deep, leaving only about ½ of the plant exposed or up to the first set of leaves. Water well and feed with a starter fertilizer like fish emulsion.

Water regularly. Brussels sprouts need about 1½ inches of water per week. Keep an eye on the soil during dry spells and keep it moist. Avoid overhead watering and water in the morning to help prevent mildew and plant disease.

Brussels sprouts can greatly benefit from liquid feeding twice per month. Use a compost tea or good organic fertilizer that contains boron. Seaweed extract works great.

Harvest once the heads are 1 to 2 inches in diameter. They should be green and firm. Twist them to carefully break them off of the plant. Remove any yellowing leaves as you harvest the lower sprouts. Harvest fall crops into early frosts, up until the first hard freeze.

Weed carefully and avoid damaging the Brussels sprout roots.

Mulch to help maintain soil moisture.

Remove yellowing leaves as the plants develop.

Sprouts are best when picked on sunny days with light frosts occurring overnight.

Check out our post How to Grow Brussels Sprouts in Containers if you have limited space. Also check out the Health Benefits of Brussels Sprouts on our sister site, Eat This!

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