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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 47 acres of botanical bliss fronting the Pacific Ocean

Brussel Sprouts

Grow an edible sculpture in the vegetable garden!

Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea Common Name: Brussel Sprouts Family: Brassicaceae 

Description: First recorded in Belgium in 1752, this herbaceous biennial is grown as an annual. Brussel sprouts are a cool season crop and a member of the cole crops. They like full sun and regular water.

Some cultivars: 'Jade Cross Hybrid'*, 'Long Island Improved'*, 'Bubbles' (great taste, 88 days), 'Roodnerf'(open pollinated), 'Rubine' (heirloom purple/red), 'Vancouver' (commercial crop), 'Oliver' (F1) (earliest brussel sprout 90 days to maturity),'Diablo' (F1) (late season 110 days). *locally recommended and disease resistant

Cultivation and Harvest: They are considered heavy feeders, preferring rich compost especially at the initial planting. The addition of phosphorous is also important for good blooms. They can be fed with a foliar spray once or twice a month. Excess nitrogen can discolor the plant and cause loose buds. These plants are not affected by frost. Frost actually enhances the flavor of the sprouts. Harvest from the bottom up breaking off the leaf below each sprout that you harvest. A single plant will yield 50-100 sprouts. Sprouts will store 3-4 weeks at 32'F. Seeds can be collected and last 3-4 years.

Propagation: They are most effectively started from seeds indoors. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep in small pots in temperatures of 55-75F. They take 5-17 days to germinate. Allow 7-8 weeks for them to grow before transplanting. When transplanting outside they can be buried deeper than they were originally growing, up to the first leaves. Space plants 24 inches apart. On the Mendocino coast you can plant transplants in August/September for a winter crop or in early spring February/March/April for a summer crop. A long cool growing season is ideal. Proper planting date is important. Don't plant in the same place as other cole crops year after year due to disease and insect problems.

Common Problems: Brussel sprouts are susceptible to the same insects and diseases as the cabbage family and other cole crops. Cabbage loopers, slugs, snails, cabbage maggot, aphids, mildew, and Fusarium. Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening Sunset The Western Garden Book California Master Gardener Handbook Johnny's Selected Seeds, www.johnnyseeds.com Territorial Seed Company, www.territorialseed.com

Submitted by Master Gardener Karen Kreisel, 2007.