Brussels Sprout – Brigitte F1 - €2.20

Brussels Sprout – Brigitte F1: I could never grow Brussels sprouts until I met Brigitte!  This is such an excellent variety with excellent disease resistance and flavour and also the buds don’t open up prematurely.

Sowing: Mid April until June.

Sow one seed per module about 2cm deep and about 4 weeks later plant out the modules or pot them on into 9cm pots before planting out

Spacing: A spacing of 90cm each way is ideal.

Approx. seed count: 15 sds

Growing Brussels Sprouts:

Family: Cruciferae

Related to:  Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, Radish, Turnip, Kale, Swede, Rocket, Cress, Kohlrabi.

Botanical classification:  Brassica derives from the Celtic bresic, the name for cabbage. Oleracea means ‘as a herb’ – the wild cabbage.

Introduction:  Brussels sprouts are one of the most difficult vegetables to grow organically. This is due to mealy aphid attacks, especially during mild winter conditions.  They also occupy a fair amount of space over a long period (8 months).  Hence, they are not a suitable crop for a small garden.

Brussels sprouts are a very hardy winter brassica.  The sprouts are botanically swollen buds. They ripen on the bottom of the stalk first.

Once ready the sprouts need to be harvested regularly, otherwise the sprouts will open up and become unusable.  It is one of the few vegetables where I would only choose a modern F1 Hybrid, because the sprouts stay closed for a much longer period.

History:  Brussels sprouts are one of the most recently developed vegetables.  They were first recorded in Belgium in 1750 and reached England and France around 1800.

Soil and site:  Brussels sprouts are very hardy and will grow on most sites.  They should be planted in very fertile soil that has been well prepared with compost or decomposed manure. However, Brussels sprouts require a firm soil for sprout production, so the soil should be well before planting.  The ideal pH is 6.5 to 7.0.

Sowing:  Brussels sprouts can be raised in a seed bed as bare root transplants or in modular trays.  Personally, I prefer to raise them in modular trays and sow one seed per cell  2cm deep.

Early:

Sow under glass in mid March and transplant in late April.

Mid:

Sow under glass in early April and plant out in May.

Late:

Sow in early May and transplant in early June.

 Spacing:

Smaller types: 60-75cm (2-2.5ft) apart.

Tall types:       90cm (3ft) apart.

 

Rotation:

It is absolutely essential to keep them in the brassica section of your rotation to prevent a build up of the numerous brassica pests and diseases.

 

Plant care:

Brussels sprouts require a very firm ground, so ideally the soil should be prepared the previous autumn so it can settle.  The transplants should be well watered before transplanting.  They can be planted with a trowel or dibber.  Regular hoeing will control weed growth as well as stimulating plant vigour.  On exposed sites it is beneficial to earth up the soil around the stem to prevent wind damage.  Some growers on very exposed sites tie the plants to sticks.  However, I believe this is rarely necessary.  Being a heavy feeder they would benefit from liquid feeds made out of nettle, comfrey and/or compost.

 

Stopping:

Stopping consists of removing the growing point from the plant.  Many commercial growers use this technique to speed up the development of the uppermost buds and to adjust the date of maturity.  This technique is quite useless for a hobby gardener who is quite happy to harvest sprouts over a long period.

 

De-leafing:

Any discoloured leaves should be removed from the plant on a regular basis as they may harbour pests and diseases.

Harvesting:  The harvesting period lasts for about 2 to 3 months.  Start harvesting the lower sprouts first as soon as they are big enough.  Remove the yellow leaves regularly as this makes subsequent harvesting easier and it may also keep the plants healthier as it increases air circulation and prevent sprouts from rotting.

Potential problems:  All the common brassica problems apply to Brussels sprouts, however mealy aphids are especially a problem with sprouts.

How much to grow:  Each plant may yield about 2kg of sprouts, so if you have a large garden 5 plants (5sq m) will give you many nice Sunday treats.

Varieties:

Brigitte F1 (personal favourite)

Rampart F1, Trafalger F1, Diablo

 

Exhibition variety:

Icarus

 

 

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