Brussels Sprouts 'Topline' F1 Hybrid - Seed
Brussels sprouts to really enjoy!
Brussel's sprout seed needs no prior treatment but an overnight soak in lukewarm water will encourage germination.
Sprouts are fast growers and will thrive on water retaining soil that has been well fertilised over the winter.
Be aware that birds love the seed of the Brussels sprout. Best sow them in the cold frame first and plant the seedlings in the garden once they are big enough. You will otherwise definitely need to use something to keep the birds off.
There are two ways to sow Brussels sprouts seed:
In pots in the cold frame from the end of February up to April. Fill the pots with a fine potting compost mixed with fine sand, one seed per pot. Cover with more soil to a maximum of 1 cm, press gently down and sprinkle with water. The living room is too warm so cold frame is best. Do not allow the pots to dry out and stand them far enough apart that any leaves do not touch each other. Plant your Brussels sprouts seedlings in the garden from the end of April spaced at 70 cm, with 70 cm between rows too.
Sow in the garden in full sun from April through May. Seedlings are fairly hardy. Fork the soil loose to at least 30 cm deep. Draw a straight furrow and sow very thinly between thumb and forefinger along the row. Cover with 1 cm of soil, press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Further rows should be a 20 cm intervals and label each row. Use a chicken wire tunnel to protect from the birds. When you see four leaves on each seedling, it's time to thin them out further along each row, or into pots. Keep protecting them from the birds!
Brussels sprouts seeds germinate in 7-14 days.
All cabbages are classified as Brassicaceae or Cruciferea and although there are many varieties, they are genetically very close.
Brassica oleracea covers many cabbages. They have been grown, crossed and cultivated again for 5,000 years already. Big headed cabbage are given the name Brassica oleracea convar. capitata and sprouts are specifically Brassica oleracea convar. oleracea var. gemmifera.
There are even lots of variety of Brussels sprout - both earlies and lates for sowing throughout the year and vary in their tolerance to cold. Keep to the sowing time advised to minimise the risk of problems (fast growers are usually less hardy so are best not harvested in frosty months).
Brassica oleracea convar. oleracea var. gemmifera is a bi-annual plant that will principally flower and set seed in its 2nd year. For growing actual sprouts it is therefore classed as an annual.
Freshly picked Brussel's sprouts are the tastiest and they can easily be stored for a week in the fridge or pantry.
Boil them for not too long - they should remain crisp. Delicious with meat and potatoes. Great in wok recipes too.
Water extra only in periods of drought. Brussel's sprouts love it if you fertilise them all season long. Keep the bed free of weed too and your sprouts will thrive.
Decide whether or not you want to top your Brussel's sprouts plant. If you top it, you will be harvesting all sprouts per plant in one go. If you don't, you can harvest from it in part for several weeks. A topped plant will give equal sized sprouts. Do this only from the end of August until the end of September - just as the bottommost leaves turn yellow. These will fall off on their own but you may also want to remove them yourself.. The later you top the plants, the longer the sprouts will grow.
Use a sharp knife to harvest your Brussels sprouts and cut directly behind the head, right through the short stem. Sprouts are tastier after a frost! The frost turns carbohydrates into sugars giving them a less bitter taste.
Harvest at around 2-3 cm. It's a good tip not to pick them all at once - just take the biggest first and collect more every week until they're all used up.
Harvest from bottom to top in order to clear the whole plant. Do not throw the stems on the compost heap because they are so hard they don't easily decompose.
Your pet rabbits love Brussel's sprouts too - give them the leaves you would otherwise discard.