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The Seed Program
Growing Hints

This is one of the many growing hints that are available as a bonus with a registered copy of The Seed Program.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are a member of the cabbage family that appreciate cool weather and ample moisture. The "sprouts" are small cabbage like buds that form at the base of the large leaves. Because of the time needed for the plants to mature, it is difficult to grow the plants to harvestable size in the spring in many areas. It is often easiest to plant in the spring and leave the plants until autumn. Exposure to a few frosts is felt to actually improve the flavor of the sprouts.

If the plants are allowed to grow until fall, they may be direct seeded in the garden in spring. The small seedlings are rather vulnerable to attack by pests, however, and it may be easier to start them indoors.

Avoid planting brussels sprouts where other cabbage family crops have been grown the previous year, to prevent some insect and disease problems. Cabbage loopers are likely to find the plants anyway, so spray or dust the plants with BT when you first notice the small white butterflies prowling your garden. This is a safe biological control that will not harm people, earthworms or beneficial insects. Small caterpillars are not as likely to escape notice in the sprouts as they are in broccoli, for example, so they are not as serious a problem with brussels sprouts. If left untreated, however, the plants may be all but defoliated by fall, so some attention must be given to the problem.

The sprouts lowest on the plant are those that mature first, so they should be the first ones that are harvested. Late in the season, such as just before the first frosts, the top of the plant may be twisted off to direct growth into the faster development of the sprouts.

For more crops, more complete gardening information, a garden journal and a planting schedule you can customize for your region, purchase The Seed Program!

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