Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a vegetable not universally admired, but many find them delicious and they form a key part of many people's Christmas dinner. Brussels sprouts are excellent for growing in the UK climate and in fact taste better after they have experienced a frost. Why not try to grow your own so you can eat fresh sprouts from your own garden on Christmas day and throughout the winter? You may be surprised by how much better they can taste than the ones you can buy in the supermarket.

Growing Brussels sprouts:

Brussels sprouts should be sown in March or April indoors and then moved out to their final positions from mid-May to early June. Young plants can be transplanted when they are around 10-15cm high and have around seven true leaves. It is best to leave around 60cm between plants, though they can be more closely spaced in some planting systems.

Brussels sprouts will grow best in full sun in a soil that is rich and moisture retentive. Be sure to firm down soil well around the base of the plants so they do not become dislodged as they grow taller. They should not be spaced in an exposed spot where they will be subject to strong winds.

The plants should be watered every ten days or so in dry weather and will appreciate a high nitrogen plant feed and an organic mulch in summer.

Be sure to net young plants against birds and other pests. Birds like pigeons can eat all your plants in a very short space of time.

Early varieties of Brussels sprouts can be harvested from late August, while it is more normal to wait and harvest sprouts at least until after they have been sweetened by the first frosts. Start from the lowest sprouts, which will mature first, and break them off by holding them and giving a sharp downwards tug. At the end of the season, you can also eat the tops of the sprouts which many people do not realise are also a good, tasty vegetable.

Some late varieties of Brussels sprouts will stand well all winter, meaning you can harvest the sprouts right through until February in some cases.

Brussels sprouts are a brassica and should be moved with other brassica in any garden crop rotation. Leaving brassicas in the same place can increase likelihood of your plants developing club root and other diseases.

Why grow Brussels sprouts in the garden?

Brussels sprouts are a healthy and tasty vegetable that can enliven the winter months. They have an interesting and almost bizarre appearance and really stand out in the kitchen garden in the late autumn and winter. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera