Growing Brussels Sprouts Organically
Becoming familiar with brussel sprouts
Brussel sprouts, that tiny little cabbage looking vegetable, that some describe as smelling like dirty feet, are the hardiest of the cabbage family plant. These little spouts take up a fair amount of space, but boy are they worth it. Brussel sprout take anywhere from 80 to 130 days to harvest, depending on the weather.
Brussel sprout survive freezing temperatures much easier that they do hot spells. Your best bet for having the sweetest spouts is to time your plantings so that the overnight fall frosts help bring that sweetness out. To help determine the correct planting time count back the number of days to the maturity from your first fall frost.
Brussel sprouts prefers well drained, high in organic matter with a ph between 6.0 and 7.5. They need a consistent moisture and can tolerate a slightly alkaline soil. They really like the sun, at least 8 hours a day. Also keep in mind that brussel sprouts like the colder weather and tend to become bitter in the warmer weather.
When planting Brussel sprouts in a garden make sure to allow two to three feet per plant. It's also best to plant brussel sprout in an area that has not grown any family members for the last two to three years. By family members I mean such vegetables as: kale, cabbage, broccoli, kolrabi, or cauliflower. A monthly fertilization emulsions or compost tea help them reach their optimum growth. Make sure you mulch well to help maintain soil moisture while growing the sprouts under a floating row cover. This will help prevent cabbage worms from eating your plants.
Growing a healthy, happy, organic crop of brussel sprouts
To grow an organic crop of brussel sprouts you need to start with good organic seed. These seeds can be started indoors or outdoors. If planting indoors be sure to plant in either late summer or early fall and inbed one inch deep in a nitrogen rich soil. When transplanting seedling the ideal time is about three months before the first frost is expected.
It's important to remember that you need to allow each brussel sprout plant needs 2 to 3 square feet for growth.
Make sure you add compost or composted manure to the soil when transplanting the seedlings.
As your seedlings grow mound dirt at the base of the plant. They become top heavy and will break if you don't.
Brussel sprouts need at least 1" of water per week. So don't forget to water them daily.
Make sure you pick the sprout from the top going woen.
Make sure you fertilize the plants once a month with fish emulsion.
Keeping your garden weed free organically
OK, so you've laid out your beds for your brussel sprouts with plenty of room between them for mulch, and you've planted the seedlings you so lovingly cared for these past few weeks. Now what do you do to keep your brussel sprouts beds from being taken over by weeds?
Your first move is to buy a good weeding hoe. You need to use it right from the start, very carefully at first so you don't also weed out your brussel sprout plants. You need to use it often to keep the weeds from producing seeds. I know it's a lot of work but it is worth it.
Your next step is to mulch all of the area surrounding the plant to help deter weeds from growing. Organic mulches are generally made up of dried grass clippings, wood chips, bark from a tree, leaves, and compost. Make sure to keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the plant. Mulch helps retain water in the soil and may cause your plant to rot from too much moisture.
What else can you do? Well, the compost animal manure you used to fertilize your plants also help to kill off weed seeds. Another thing you need to do is to fertilize the plant not the area. Place the fertilizer up close and personal to the plant. If you spread it too far from the plant you will be fertilizing weeds. This you really don't want to do.
Getting rid of those pesky bugs organically
Fortunately brussel sprout plants are not bothered by too many pest. You can hand pick them off of your plants or you can do one of the following:
- To keep cabbage worms from attacking your plants you need to place a floating row cover above them.
- This is also effective for guarding against caterpillars.
- To rid yourself of aphids simply blast them off of the plant with a stream of water from your hose.
Now comes the great reward
Now that you have successfully planted and harvested your brussel sprout crop you can reap the rewards. There is nothing better than eating what you have grown. After months of working and sweating over your vegetable it is now time to eat and enjoy the fruits of your labors. I have included a fantastic recipe to help you enjoy your finished product. This recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. Enjoy.
Buttery Nutty Brussel Sprouts
- 4 cups Brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 1 tbsp and 1/2 tsp butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp toasted slivered almonds
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp cilantro
- 1/2 tsp crazy mixed up salt
- Steam Brussel sprouts in one inch of water until tender, about 6 minutes.
- While Brussel sprouts are steaming, melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat.
- Continuing heating butter, stirring occasionally, until it becomes a nutty brown. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Add olive oil to butter, mix, and remove to a large bowl. Make sure you get as much of the butter-oil mixture as you can out of the pan.
- Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well to coat the Brussel sprouts and almonds.
- Serve this delicious dish warm or cold.
|Serving size: approximately 1 cup|
|Calories from Fat||63|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 7 g||11%|
|Saturated fat 11 g||55%|
|Carbohydrates 4 g||1%|
|Fiber 3 g||12%|
|Protein 7 g||14%|
|Cholesterol 8 mg||3%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Susan Hazelton