Brussels Sprouts, planting tips for a tasty harvest

brussels sprouts planting tips

Bountiful botanical blessings on you for recognizing the beauty of the Brussels sprout! When it comes to Brussels sprouts planting, do it the right way and you can grow them for a fun fall harvest, eat them for high levels of Vitamins K and C, and enjoy them for sweet and nutty flavor. Of course, all these amazing benefits depend upon your knowledge of how best to plant, harvest, and prepare these cute “little cabbages.” And we’re here to help.

A Perfect Cool Weather Crop

As a slow-growing, long-bearing crop, it’s wise to make good friends with your sprouts in order to produce the most satisfying and delicious relationship. Brussels sprouts thrive in cooler weather and actually increase in natural sweetness after they’ve been kissed by frost.

A good rule of thumb (your green thumb, that is) for when is the best time for Brussels sprouts planting, is to count back three months from your first potential heavy frost. Check online or contact your local agricultural extension office for the average date of that frost in your area.

growing Brussels sproutsBrussels sprouts: Planting Tips

First, give them a good sunny home. Note, however, that if your region has very hot weather in late summer and early fall, the plants will appreciate the respite of light afternoon shade from other taller plants, trees, or shade cloth. They prefer a medium to heavy, firm, fertile, neutral soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. To ensure the soil’s appropriate texture and fertility, be sure to mix in generous amounts of manure or compost. Then water the garden bed several days before planting, to allow the soil to settle. A soil tester can quickly and simply indicate your soil’s pH level. You can then adjust with either garden lime, to raise the pH, or aluminum sulfate, to decrease the pH.

Starter Plants or Seeds?

Brussels sprouts are much easier to grow from plants than from seeds. Just set the young brussels sprout plants into your prepared bed about 24 inches apart, gently firming the soil around each one. As the plants grow, you can regularly mound and firm a bit of the soil up around the stalk to support the tall growing plant.

If you wish to “start from scratch,” however, sow the seeds indoors, about ½ inch deep and 6 inches apart, allowing 10 to 14 days for germination. Once the first two leaves (seed leaves) appear, you should transplant them to a deeper seed bed or containers, replanting them to a depth just below the seed leaves and watering in well. Once they are strong and tall enough (4 to 6 inches or 4 to 6 weeks,) transplant them once more into their permanent bed. It is important to note that transplanting Brussels Sprouts is always necessary for optimal growth. It encourages a much stronger root system, which funnels essential nutrients to the plant and supports its weight. (If you’re planning on purchasing our plants, we have already done this part, eliminating that necessity for you!)

To ease their transition, apply vegetable fertilizer when transplanting the Brussels sprouts. Then feed them with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer when they are about 12 inches tall. This is especially important if your plants are facing late summer heat, which can stunt them and cause bitter flavor. Of course, water regularly as needed and apply soil conditioners every 6 weeks to further enhance production and ensure a long, flavorful harvest.

Harvest Time!

Once the sprouts begin to form, they will grow up the stalk, forming a unique-looking “palm tree.” You harvest them in the same way as they grow, from the bottom of the stalk, up. There’s something so satisfying about twisting off a mature and succulent little sprout, bound for your kitchen!

When preparing, remember that overcooking is the death of Brussels sprouts flavor (and nutrition.) They can be steamed, roasted, grilled, baked, sauteed, and nestled into casseroles. The internet is full of inspiring recipes. Just don’t boil them into mushy submission!

brussels sprouts for dinner

There is just no comparison between the taste and texture of home-grown Brussels sprouts and those purchased in supermarkets. So go ahead and take the plunge. Brussels sprouts may just be your family’s favorite fall dish they never knew they were missing!

Happy Gardening!

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  • Reply
    June 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I live in south central Indiana and we are having a hot summer this year. My landlord says that brussel sprouts will not do well in our area, but I am giving them a try. Right now they are tall enough to thin out, and I am giving them lots of water. Certainly getting good green plants so I hope I can prove my landlord wrong.

    • Reply
      July 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      We would also suggest a shade cloth to help keep the temps down on your Brussels.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    I noticed that all the leafs were torn off from the bottom jut leaving the tops. Are you supposed to do this?

    • Reply
      January 20, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Jennifer, you do not have to remove the lower leaves. The larger growers feel that the lower leaves are not needed once the sprouts have formed, so they remove a few at a time over the growing season till you have what is left in the photo, which is a brussel sprout plant that is ready to harvest.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Will Brussels sprouts produce a second year? My plants from last year have been growth on the bottom.

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      September 24, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      Karen, Brussels sprouts are mainly grown as a ‘one and done’ plant. However, in certain climates it will produce a second crop, which is what yours is doing. The second crop is usually not that substantial, and we would never promote it to be grown as such. Enjoy your bonus!

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