Growing Brussel Sprouts in the Vegetable Garden
Growing Brussel Sprouts
Brassica oleracea gemmifera
Like other brassicas, when you are growing Brussel sprouts, they tend to occupy rather a lot of space in the small cauliflowers) you can economise on space by raising catch crops between the individual plants., but (as with
Sprout varieties enable the crop to be harvested over a long period. If you are reluctant to devote precious space to these crops for the entire growing season, you may be able to club together with a friend or neighbour, so that each of you grows varieties maturing at different times.
Growing Brussel sprouts will require you to sow them in a seed bed from March to April and transplant them about 8-10 weeks later in a plot prepared as for purple and white broccoli.
Plant ordinary varieties of Brussel sprouts up to 900 mm (36 in) apart, and the newer medium to dwarf types 500 mm (20 in) apart. Alternatively the ground may be dug, allowed to settle, and then trampled well in advance of planting (firm but not hard ground is essential for firm sprouts). Earlier seedlings may be raised under the protection of doches. Young Brussel sprouts plants may also be bought and planted out immediately.
Pests and diseases: see Brassicas
Harvest the sprouts as soon as they are ready by snapping off each head individually with a downward movement. Pick the lowest ones first. Remove any dead or decaying leaves and poor-quality sprouts immediately. When all the Brussel sprouts have been removed from a plant, its top cluster of leaves may be used as greens.
Be sure to buy seeds from a nursery seedsman who specializes in Brussels sprouts, for the strain is as important as the variety. As some varieties do better than others in some localities, take his advice.
Cambridge No. 1, an early type which produces large, firm sprouts of excellent quality. Particularly suitable for autumn sowing.
Cambridge No. 3, a main-crop variety, producing large sprouts.
Cambridge No. 5, a very late variety. Heavy-cropping, large sprouts.
Cambridge Special, a favourite small-button sprout, compact and excellent for deep freezing.
Darlington, an early dwarf variety for small gardens. Good on sandy. Bears firm, medium-sized sprouts.
Irish Glacier, small, dark green buttons which are easy to pick. A good sprout for quick-freezing.
Perfection, a good northern variety: plants 2-½ feet high with dark green foliage. Can be picked early in October. Excellent for freezing.
Rous Lench, a favourite in the west country. Produces prolific and excellent dark green solid sprouts.
Sanda, a medium ‘Citadel’, F1, medium height, suitable for freezing, ready December onwards; ‘Fasolt’, F1, medium to tall, suitable for freezing, crops into February; ‘Peer Gynt’, F1, very popular, medium dwarf, suitable for freezing, matures September onwards; ‘Rubine’, attractive red sprouts of good quality
Soil: Firm, well-composted
Sow: March to April, or earlier under cloches
Harvest: September onwards