One of my most asked questions at the community garden has come from people wondering what the Brussel sprout plant is. It’s funny how many of us have no connection to growing. We just buy Brussel sprouts in the grocery store without a thought to how they are grown. Recently someone asked me if garlic grew above ground. They were quite surprised when I said no. Building a community garden has been a learning experience for not just the gardeners but the neighbours who walk through the gardens as well.
To look at a Brussel sprout plant now, all you would see is tiny balls just starting to form between the leaves. Many people think it’s some type of cabbage plant. Mind you I haven’t seen a three-foot high cabbage before. Of course, Brussel sprouts are in the same family as cabbage so they are not far off in their guess. They belong to the Brassica family of plants.
The biggest challenge in growing Brussel sprouts is keeping the cabbage moth away from your plants. Try using a floating row cover over your plants at planting time.
Brussel sprouts are biennial plants but always harvested in the first year. Brussel sprouts are a cool season plant and are harvested in late fall when sprouts are about 2-3 cm in size. If left to grow too big, they will start to open.They are harvested from the bottom up on the plant. Harvesting just after a frost will mean a sweeter sprout.
This is a great plant to have in the fall garden. Seedlings must be planted by mid August for a fall crop. Leave a couple of feet between plants as they grow quite tall and wide.Be sure to water well during hot dry weather.