I tried growing Brussels sprouts for the first time a few years ago. I enjoy vegetable gardening and thought I’d try something a little different. To be honest, I wasn’t too happy with the results – nothing like starting an article on a positive note.
Actually, I don’t think I did too badly but overall I couldn’t decide if the results were worth the effort. Before I completely discourage you from trying this vegetable in your garden, I better give you some of the positives.
They are considered fairly easy to grow. They require about the same growing conditions and care as cabbage. Technically they are a type of cabbage. But instead of forming one large head, as cabbages do, they form many tiny heads along their tall stems. The round vegetable sprouts are about the size of walnuts. Each sprout resembles a miniature head of cabbage, with its layers of tightly packed leaves and central core.
Brussels sprouts are considered a cool season crop. They require cool weather for best growth. They should be grown in the winter garden in Florida. Now is a good time to plant this crop. If they are grown when temperatures are warm, the sprouts tend to be soft and open rather than solid and tightly packed.
Brussels sprouts can be started from seeds or small plants. But it may be hard to find plants for starting. Seeds can be planted directly in the garden or germinated in flats. If you start seeds in flats, plant about 25 seeds to a foot of bed and cover them with about half an inch of soil. When seedlings emerge, thin them to about an inch apart. They’re ready to plant in the garden when they’re about three or four weeks old. Plant them 30 inches apart in rows that are three feet wide.
Follow good gardening practices in watering, fertilizing and monitoring for pests.
Your sprouts are ready to harvest when they reach walnut size and feel firm. Usually, the first sprouts, near the bottom of each plant, are ready within three months. Don’t leave them on the plant too long or they’ll become yellow and tough.
If you have space in your garden to devote to one crop for a minimum of three months (I left mine in the garden for five months), you might do okay with Brussels sprouts. Keep in mind they will still be producing in spring when it’s time to start planting your spring garden. The length of time it took to get a decent amount of Brussels sprouts was probably what I disliked the most about this crop.