How to Grow Brussel Sprouts:
Growing Brussel Sprouts Organically

It doesn’t take much time to learn how to grow Brussel sprouts, and growing Brussel sprouts in your garden is a must... they are one of the healthiest vegetable around. They grow slowly and prefer the cooler weather of fall and spring.

Brussel sprouts are also a hardy vegetable than can endure a sudden frost or even light snow with ease. They require well-fertilized soil that has not had other members of the Brassica family (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.) growing in it. You’ll want to plant Brussel Sprouts in a sunny location that includes some partial shade.

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts: Plant Snapshot (Brassica oleracea)

How to Grow Brussel Sprouts
  • Family: Brassicaceae (Mustard family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Annual - Ready to harvest 90 to 100 days after planting
  • Recommended varieties: Tasty Nuggets, Long Island Improved, Oliver, Bubbles
  • Cold tolerance: Half Hardy – Will survive light frosts. Seeds germinate at low soil temperatures and can be planted 2 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Partial shade
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Brassica: swede, calabrese
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Basil, Bush Beans, Beets, Carrot, Celery, Chamomile, Chard, Cucumber, Dill, Garlic, Hyssop, Lettuce, Marigold, Mint, Nasturtium, Onion family, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Spinach, Thyme, Tomato, Wormwood
    • Avoid: Bush and Pole Beans, Grapes, Rue, Strawberry
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How to Grow Brussel Sprouts: Planting the Seed

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You can plant Brussel sprout seeds indoors or out. Seeds should be planted about one inch deep in firm soil in late summer or early fall. In warmer regions, you can plant the seeds outside through Christmas for a spring harvest.

If you transplant, time the planting so that the seedlings are planted outside about three months before the first frost is expected. Plant transplanted seedlings deeply, leaving about one half of the plant above the ground.

Snapshot: Planting Brussel Sprouts

  • Planting depth: about 1 inch (2.54 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: about 16 to 24 inches (40 to 61 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 65 to 85 degrees F (18 to 29 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 5 to 10 days
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How to Grow Brussel Sprouts: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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When the sprouts have grown to about five to seven inches tall, you’ll need to thin them so that they are two feet apart. About six hours of daily sunlight is needed to grow this vegetable successfully.

Brussel Sprouts have a high need for nitrogen, so adding a kelp fertilizer (or similar type of organic fertilizer) to the soil is necessary during germination and once or twice a month during growth. In order to help conserve moisture, use organic mulch around the plants.

Pull any weeds that may sprout up by hand so as not to disturb the shallow roots of the young plants. You may also need to stake your Brussel Sprouts if you live in an area that gets high wind.

As Brussel Sprouts mature, there will be some yellowing of the leaves. Keep these leaves picked off so that the sprouts have more room to develop.

Snapshot: Growing Brussel Sprouts

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 6.8
  • Growing soil temperature: 60 to 70 degrees F (18.3 to 21.1 degrees C)
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How to Grow Brussel Sprouts: Harvesting Time

You’ll know your Brussel sprouts are ready for harvest when you see small, firm green balls on the stem of the plant that are about an inch (25 mm) in diameter, Twist the sprouts off of the stem to harvest.

If a severe freeze is expected, uproot your Brussel Sprout plants, take off any leaves, and hang the plant upside down in a cool spot so that you can continue to harvest the sprouts for a few more weeks.

Snapshot: Harvesting Brussel Sprouts

  • Time to harvest: About 15 to 18 weeks after planting
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Storing Brussel Sprouts and Freezing Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks before losing freshness. A perforated storage bag is necessary so that the sprouts can “breathe”.

To freeze Brussel Sprouts, first soak them for thirty minutes in a solution of four teaspoons salt mixed with one gallon of water. This will remove and insects that may be lurking. Sort the sprouts according to their size.

Water or steam blanch small sprouts for three minutes, medium sprouts for four minutes, and large sprouts for five minutes. Cool, then drain, place into containers and freeze.

Brussel sprout seeds are good for about four years.

Snapshot: Storing Brussel Sprouts & Freezing Brussel Sprouts

  • Storage temperature: 32-40 degrees F (2.2 to 4.44 degrees C)

  • Humidity: 90 to 95% relative humidity

  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 3 weeks
  • Storage life (frozen): 1 year
  • Seed longevity: About 4 years
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How to Grow Brussel Sprouts: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Brussel Sprouts. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Beet armyworm
  • Cabbage aphid
  • Cabbage maggot
  • Crickets
  • Cutworms
  • Darkling beetles
  • Diamondback moth
  • Earwigs
  • Flea beetles
  • Garden symphylans
  • Harlequin bug
  • Imported cabbageworm
  • Leafminers
  • Loopers
  • Nematodes
  • Seedcorn maggot
  • Snails/slugs
  • Thrips
  • Whiteflies
  • Wireworms

Diseases

  • Bacterial leafspot
  • Bacterial soft rot
  • Clubroot
  • Damping off
  • Downy mildew
  • Phytophthora root rot
  • Powdery mildew
  • Ringspot (Black blight)
  • Verticillum wilt
  • White mold
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