One of my favorite cool-weather vegetable to grow is Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts have cabbage like buds that develop around the stem at the base of the leaves. Since this vegetable takes a long time to mature, use transplants.
Select transplants that are young and vigorous, not tall and woody. The flavor of this vegetable improves by the touch of frost. Brussels sprouts have the same soil requirements as other cabbage vegetables: average pH; and deep sandy loam, well worked and rich with nitrogen, and good drainage. Plant Brussels sprouts in a location that receives 8-10 hours of full sun. When planting apply a complete garden fertilizer, 10-10-10,at the rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet of garden. Another option is to dig a shovelful of compost or a small handful of 5-10-5 in each hole, and of course water thoroughly. Use your feet to firm the soil after planting; even in raised beds. Plants should be spaced 18 inches apart in the row and 3 feet apart between rows. In raised beds, space the plants 16-18 inches apart, this will allow 2 plants across the bed. Set the plants at the same depth they were growing. The plants need 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week for steady growth. Side dress the plants when they are 1 foot tall with a complete fertilizer. Sprouts develop in the leaf axial starting at the bottom of the plant, remove the leaves a few at a time as the sprouts develop. Healthy, full sized leaves should be left at the top of the plant to provide nutrients for the plant. When the plants are 2 to 3 feet tall, pinch out the growing tip so that energy goes into the sprouts instead of leaf production.
Brussels sprouts are susceptible to the same pest and diseases as other cabbage family members, avoid planting any of their relatives in the same spot 2 years in a row (cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower). Make collars to foil cutworms. Prevent cabbage worm infestation with biological worm spray or dust, available at garden centers. 'Jade Cross' and 'Long Island Improved' are resistant to Fusarium wilt and yellows.
If possible, wait until after frost to begin harvesting. These very cold-hardy plants can stand a freeze. Start at the bottom of the stalk and work your way up. Harvest the sprouts that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. To make detaching them easier, pick the leaf below the sprout first, then the sprout, with a twisting motion. Harvest as many sprouts as you need at each picking and leave the rest; they can remain on the plant through part of the winter. Extra sprouts can also be blanched and frozen after they are harvested.
The commonly grown varieties of Brussels sprouts are 'Jade Cross Hybrid' and 'Long Island Improved'. Both are dwarf and short season (roughly 90 days to harvest). Try the early 'Prince Marvel' or 'Captain Marvel' (earlier still). The European varieties are worth trying. They are very long seasoned, but the flavor is worth the effort. ' Valiant' or 'Fieldstar Number 1, have very long season between 175 to 185 days to harvest.
Eat the sprouts raw, or steam or boil them and serve as a snack or side dish with melted butter or a sauce. Try them au gratin, cooked with chestnuts.
Lemon-pepper brussels sprouts
prep/total time:25 min.
2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts, halved
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sprouts
in butter and oil for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
Add the green onions, lemon juice, lemon-pepper
and salt; cook 1 minuter longer.
Yields: 5 servings
Brussels sprouts with water chestnuts
prep/total time: 30 min.
1 pound fresh brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash pepper and ground nutmeg
Cut an "X" in the core end of each with a sharp knife.
Place sprouts in a steamer basket; place in a large
saucepan over 1 inch of water. Bring to boil; cover
and steam for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender.
In a large skillet, melt butter. Add water chestnuts,
salt, pepper, and nutmeg; heat through. Stir in sprouts.
Yields: 6 servings.
Grow It Cook It
Birds and Bloom, April 2011
The Garden Primer
Burpee Complete Gardener, Edited by Barbara Ellis
Guide to North Carolina Vegetable Gardening, Walter Reeves & Felder Rushing
Article submitted by:
Forsyth County Master Gardener.