Brussels Sprouts

Site Preparation: The site of where you grow your Brussels Sprouts needs to be well dug and limed for a higher PH. This should ideally be done in the autumn on heavy soils but can be done as close as 6 weeks before planting out.The amount of lime will be specified on the packet and this instruction should be followed as damage to seedlings can occur if doses are exceeded.

Sowing: These seeds are small, hard, round balls which I spread over the surface of a seed tray filled with compost then cover the seed with a thin layer of compost. These seeds will normally germinate under cover between 7 and 14 days after sowing. Sow the seeds of Brussels Sprouts at around the start of April with a second sowing a month later. In each batch sow 10 seeds and pick out only the strongest seedlings. 

Potting On: Once the seedlings produce the first true leaf they can be pricked out and put into 3" pots of compost. When doing this the seedlings can go into the compost right up to the bottom of the seed leaves (I find that this gives for a sturdier plant.)

Planting Out: When planting out brassicas of all types the soil needs to be well dug but firm (The reason for this is that brassicas and Brussels Sprouts especially suffer from wind rock and don't form nice tight heads if disturbed by the wind). To help with wind rock the plants should be planted in a 2-3" deep furrow made along the row and then as the stalk increases in height follow it with soil built up and firmed in around the stalk. In addition to this I stake my sprouts with the slightly thicker bamboo canes. When the Sprouts are growing away the lower leaves will start to go yellow, simply remove them and stick them in the compost heap.

Harvesting: When harvesting Brussels Sprouts remove the tight heads from the lower end of the stalk. At the end of the season Sprouts should be picked blanched and put in the freezer for winter use.

Pests and Diseases: The number one pest of Brussels sprouts is the cabbage white butterflies caterpillars which will if left strip the crop in no time at all. The only worthwhile way of stopping these beasties is with netting. There are numerous methods that can be used including regular inspections, pesticides and homemade deterrent sprays (garlic etc.).

There are a number of other pests and diseases which do affect cabbages at various stages of growth. I have listed the remaining pests and the preventions I use:(This is not an exhaustive list but covers most bases)
  • Slugs and Snails  -   Pellets
  • Pigeons  -  Netting
  • Root Fly  -  Mulch
  • Club root  -  Liming
  • Aphids  -  Insect spray
Varieties: The following are the varieties i have used with notes on the performance of each one.
  • Trafalgar - Good tight heads, easy to grow, good for the kitchen
  • Bedford Fillbasket - Good all rounder, widely available
  • Falstaff - Red, interesting addition to the garden, nutty taste

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