Brussels Sprouts

brussels sproutsSprouts can only be grown satisfactorily in firm soil, where they can be given a good depth of manure and plenty of room to develop.

Soil Preparation
The soil must be prepared in the previous autumn, adding a spades depth of manure and compost at the rate of one and a half bucketfuls to the sq. yd. Leave the soil rough for the winter frosts and winds to act upon it, then in the spring fork it over an inch or two deep, adding either fish manure at 4 oz. (120g) to the sq. yd. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of two parts of hoof and horn, one part sulphate of potash, four parts bone meal, at a rate of 4 oz (120g) to the sq. yd. The plants are planted out in late May or early June.

Sowing
Sow the seeds in a sheltered position in a seedbed during March or April, in drills not deeper than ½ inch (12mm) about 6 inches (15cm) apart. Cover them with cloches to give them warmth and protection. As they grow begin to thin out to give them room to develop.

Planting
Begin to plant out when the seedlings are about 4 – 6 inches (10cm – 15cm) high in the position, they are to mature in; continue until the middle of August. It is a good idea to water them well the day before you intend to move them. The ground where they are to go must be firm and the plants well firmed in. Plant about 3 ft. (90cm) apart with their lowest leaves just above the soil level. After they have been transplanted they must be well watered. As they grow it might be necessary to stake them if there are high winds.

Harvesting
Remove leaves when they turn yellow and gently remove any sprouts that are open. It is better to cut off the sprouts, as they are ready with a knife rather than attempting to break them off as this could lead to tearing or their roots to be dislodged from the soil.
Start at the bottom of the plants and work up gradually. In the south, the harvest may begin, as early as September but in the north, it is likely to be October before any are ready to pick; the crop may continue through to the following spring. The heads of the plant should not be removed until the end of February, for they protect the sprouts forming below and they manufacture sap, which will feed them.
When the plants are finished fruiting, pull them up and put them onto the compost heap; do not leave them on the ground, as they will take up valuable nutrients.