Brussels Sprouts are the ultimate late-weather crop because their flavor is improved from a bit of frost. It is best, then, to plan it so that the plants are mature when the days are still warm but night frosts have just begun. You can pick Brussels sprouts throughout the fall and even in the winter.
The mature plant looks like a little palm tree with big floppy leaves on top and little round sprouts growing up and down the trunk. Each plant should give you about one quart of sprouts, which freeze well.
If it is possible, plant your sprouts in a location that gets plenty of sun but that is also protected from the wind because the tall mature plants can blow over.
The soil should be an average pH. Brussels Sprouts prefer a fertile, sandy loam.
In a cooler climate, you grow one crop, starting with sowing seeds indoors and setting out the little plants so that they have 90-100 days to grow before hard frosts.
In a warmer climate, the plants might have a difficult time getting through the hot summer, so set out the little plants in midsummer and keep them well watered.
It might take a season or two to figure out the best Brussels sprouts schedule for your particular area.
You may also directly sow the seeds into the soil if you time it correctly. Keep the bed moist and thin the seedlings as time goes on so that the plants are 2 feet apart.
Brussels Sprouts should be spaced about 2 feet apart. Dig a shovelful of compost into each hole and water very thoroughly. Click here to learn how to make your own compost.
A mulch will help keep the soil evenly moist and an occasional boost of liquid fertilizer (such as fish emulsion) may be helpful.
Brussels Sprouts are tall but shallow rooted, so it tends to fall over in high winds. It helps to make a soil mound around each plant as it grows and make that soil firm.
Diseases are best controlled by crop rotation.
It is often said that the best tasting Brussels sprouts are actually the small ones, so don’t wait until they are huge like the ones you often buy at the grocery store.
It is best to wait until after the first few frosts for the best flavor.
To detach the sprouts, simply use a twisting motion and pick before the balls open.
You can extend the season a long time by piling straw or loose mulch around the plants as high as possible and covering the plants and mulch with clear plastic. You can also pull up the plants, roots and all, and store the entire plants in a cool place where you can then pick the sprouts for about three more weeks.