HOW TO GROW BRUSSELS SPROUTS IN YOUR GARDEN

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Did you ever think you would come to love Brussels sprouts after hating it as a kid? Interestingly, most of us can attest to the fact that while growing up, there was a mutual hatred for Brussels sprouts by kids.

Would you say the same now if served with the same Brussels sprouts spritzed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and  roasted in the oven. 

I’m sure you’re salivating to the taste already!

You can always enjoy the yummy delicacy of Brussels sprouts without any hassles. How? Growing your own Brussels sprouts not giving in to the generational hatred kids will have for them.

Unlike the category of heat-loving tomatoes and peppers grown in your backyard, Brussels sprouts thrives under a well-ventilated area. It is a perfect example of a cool-weather crop.

YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHERE THEY CAME FROM

Brussel sprouts have been around for quite a couple of years now, although quite youthful. The Michigan State University Extension disclosed from its findings that there was no knowledge about the plant until about 400 years ago,

It was first noticed to have descended from wild Mediterranean Kale, growing near Brussels, Belgium- reason for the name.

The plant was roughly described by the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension as a cute green sphere when it was first recorded in 1587. Botanists in the seventeenth century could not say anything about the plant. According to the plant was never seen, only heard of.

It however, found its way into North America around 1800, and has since been hated by American children.

Brussels sprouts fall under the category of cole crops which include cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.

CAN YOU GET TWO CROPS IN?

Most Brussels sprouts take an extremely long period to grow. The interval between planting and harvest could take as much as 130 days, while for some other varieties as few as 80 days.

As mentioned earlier, Brussels sprouts are cool-weather plants, which means that they require a little nip of frost to enhance their flavor.

This means northern gardeners can plant as of mid-June, and harvest them at Thanksgiving.

For gardeners down south, they can almost certainly get a harvest in fall. However, the sprouts might not be ready for Turkey Day.

Therefore, if you are able to plant a spring crop just in time to enjoy a bit of frost and have them vegging out before daytime temperature gets above 75°F then get started.

You can run your hands through varieties  of the plant types so as to ascertain the right time to planting and harvest, judging by your local weather patterns. According to Cornell University, a shorter variety of plants mature earlier and are more adaptive to cold temperatures.

LET’S GET GOING

To grow your own transplants, plant the seeds ¼-½-inch deep in small containers indoors for about 3 or 4 weeks before transplanting outdoors. At this time, the seedlings should be about 3 inches tall.

Take the transplants to your garden and plant 14 to 18 inches apart in full sun. They should be able to tolerate the sunlight, however, this will slow down their growth to maturity. Best advice is to plant in a well-drained soil containing lots of organic matter and pH of 6 to 6.8.

In order to retain the soil’s moisture, you can add a thick layer of mulch to the soil.

WATER AND FOOD

As mentioned above, the soil should be kept moist not soaked.

The cabbage mini-me is a heavy feeder and requires an application of  balanced fertilizer 2 to 4 weeks after planting, or when they grow to about 12-inches high. Apply a second round of balanced fertilizer 4 weeks after the first application.

Its roots into the ground are shallow, therefore great care should be taken with the hoe to avoid rooting them out.

WITH THANKS TO THEIR COUSIN, THE CABBAGE

Just like other plants in the category of cole crops, Brussels sprouts are vulnerable to the same bugs that attack them. In the event of an infestation of cabbage aphids, wash off with a hard stream of water.

You can use Bacillus thuringiensis to rid of cabbage worms, and spray insecticidal soap to destroy flea beetles. For cutworms, it is best to hand pluck them off.

The good news is that Brussels sprouts are fairly disease free. The only problem is powdery mildew which isn’t all that much of a concern.

Another method to help prevent plant infestation, is practicing crop rotation. This helps to revitalize the soil between the plantings.

CALL THE KIDS- IT’S TIME TO EAT

Some gardeners cut out the lowest leaves on the Brussel sprout’s stalk to speed up growth of the edible orb.

To harvest; twist, snap, or cut off sprouts when they are hard, compact, deep green, and have reached the mature size, depending on the variety.

Most cole crops are usually ready to harvest when they are 1 to ½ inches in diameter.

Collect after the veggies must have taken a nip of frost for best flavor.

The lower veggies are first to mature, as such, you should pluck them before they turn yellow. Reason is yellow leaves are not only bitter but unappealing,

Where you didn’t cut out the lower leaves to speed up the growth of the edible orbs, take them out after yielding its first harvest so as to encourage the plant to grow taller and produce more fruits.

When the planting season is coming to an end, and you know it’s going to get too cold or hot for the veggies, you can harvest the entire stalk.

And yes, the stalk is edible, however, you will have to remove the tough outer layer before consuming.

RECIPE IDEAS FOR BRUSSELS SPROUTS

You can try your hands on some of the yummy recipes, your kids will run coming for more this time!

CARAMELIZED RED CHILI BRUSSELS SPROUTS

This yummy delicacy gives Brussels a major makeover, and surprisingly it is simple to prepare.

It can be prepared with any type of protein which makes it a spicy and flavorful way to enjoy Brussels sprouts!

BRUSSELS SPROUTS SAUTÉED WITH BACON, FENNEL SEED AND DILL

For picky eaters, this recipe is just the right meal to try out. It is prepared still firm with bacon rather than being squishy.

The fat contained in the meal also helps your body absorb the nutrients packed in the sprouts.

FRESH SPROUTS IN MAY

Brussels are known to be tricky plants to grow. Notwithstanding, it can be grown and enjoyed in the home garden if you simply give them what they need.

Have you grown this plant? Let us know what zone or region you are growing in, when you plant, and when you harvest. We’d love to know.

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