Brussels sprouts were first recorded as a spontaneous sport from a cabbage plant found in the Brussels region of Belgium around 1750. A stalwart among winter vegetables in cool temperate climates, they taste much better when harvested from the garden after being frosted than when bought from the shop.
Sow under cloches or fleece or in a coldframe, thinly 13mm (½in) deep in a seed bed in rows 15cm (6in) apart from early-March to early-April, using early and late cultivars. Sow early for the best crops. Thin seedlings to 7.5cm (3in) apart. Raise plants in pots where clubroot is a problem.
For early crop sow under glass in small pots or cell trays in February, for harvesting from August.
From mid May to early June, when the young plants are 10-15cm (4-6in) high and have seven true leaves, transplant to their growing positions, leaving 60cm (2ft) between plants and 75cm (2½ft) between rows. Before planting, water plants well and water well again after transplanting.
Choose a sheltered, sunny site, protected from strong winds.
Any garden soil in full sun is suitable. Add up to two bucketfuls of well-rotted manure per square metre, and before planting or sowing add 150g (5oz) per square metre/yard of Growmore or other general purpose fertiliser.
Water every 10-14 days in periods of dry weather. Plants benefit from a top-dressing of high nitrogen fertiliser such as dried poultry manure pellets at 150g (5oz) per square metre/yard in July.
Mound soil around the base in September to support the plants.
Troubleshooting Growing Problems
Club root: Roots become swollen and distorted, and leaves become pale and yellow and wilt easily. Plants may die.
Birds: Birds, especially pigeons, can cause an array of problems including eating seedlings, buds, leaves, fruit and vegetables.
Cabbage root fly: White larvae approximately 5cm (2in) long, feed on the roots just below the soil surface, stunting growth and causing plants to wilt and die.
Caterpillars: A number of caterpillars will feed on brassicas, but the most common are those of cabbage white butterflies. You will usually see the caterpillars, if not, you will see the holes they make in the leaves. They will also bore into the heart of cabbages.
Early varieties can be harvested from August. Start from the lowest sprouts, when they are tightly closed, firm and the size of a walnut. Snap them off with a sharp downward tug. The flavour is improved once the sprouts have been frosted. At the end of the season the sprout tops can be harvested and eaten.
Beets, onions, potatoes, cereals (e.g. corn, wheat)
Beets, spinach, chard, Aromatic plants or plants with many blossoms, such as celery, chamomile, and marigolds.Dill, sage, peas, peppermint, spearmint, spurrey, rosemary, rye-grass, garlic, onions and potatoes. geraniums, alliums, nasturtium, borage, hyssop, tansy, tomatoes, thyme, wormwood, southernwood, beans, clover
Mustards, tomatoes, peppers, pole beans, strawberries