How to grow brussel sprouts
Why home-grown brussel sprouts are better
Brussel sprouts are one of those plants that just doesn't seem to scale well to industrial growing operations. If you start growing in your home garden you'll realize what you were missing out on. Your brussel sprouts will be greener and tastier than that drab stuff they sell at the grocery stores.
You may not be able to grow brussel sprouts well depending on where you live. In technical gardening terms, you need to live in zone 5 or below according to the USDA. This means you have to live in a colder climate. Sorry, Southern California, no good brussel sprouts for you.
When to plant brussel sprouts
You want to plant your brussel sprouts about 3 months before the first expected frost. For some of you living in warmer climates, this means you'll be planting in the fall or even the early winter and harvesting in late winter or spring. For those in the northern United States, July is a good month to plant.
How to plant brussel sprouts
Find yourself some fertile soil that gets a lot of sun and has good drainage. You'll also want this soil to be near neutral on the pH scale. I plant directly in the ground, but in some warmer climates you'll want to start the seeds indoors for about a month.
Plant the seeds about two feet apart. Cover with compost. You do know how to compost, don't you? Make sure the soil remains moist by using mulch. This will also help prevent weeds. You're going to need to be diligent with pest prevention, because little bugs and worms love brussel sprouts. Paper cutworm collars work best.
Harvesting brussel sprouts
When the bottom sprouts reach about half and inch in diameter pinch off the top growing tip of the plant and the top leaves. About half a month later you'll have mature sprouts. When this happens, remove the leaves under the sprouts and also any leaves that have become discolored and yellow. You want the plant to be focusing all of its nutrients in the sprouts and not on the leaves anymore. You can start harvesting when the sprouts are about an inch in diameter. Allow them to ripen for a couple weeks.
Brussel sprouts and frost
Brussel sprouts will actually be better if exposed to a few frosts. They will not do well when faced with a hard freeze, so you've got to find a good balance in there. If it's dipping into the high 20's at night and warming up to the 50's during the day, that's perfect.