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Brussels Sprouts

These mini-Brassicas grow on long stiff stems, vaguely resembling Martian walking sticks. Faithful fans love them, particularly when their innate sweetness is brought out after a frost. The sprouts make "antifreeze" to cope with the cold, and the antifreeze happens to be sugar! Raise as transplants, sowing Brussels Sprouts seeds in a cool greenhouse or in a protected growing area, planting out into the garden 12 weeks before the first fall frost. Resist the temptation to grow giant sprouts! Enjoy them young and tender, harvesting while small and tightly-wrapped low on the stem, allowing the higher ones to remain. Or, pinch the growing top and harvest the entire stem. Convert your whole family into Brussels Sprouts aficionados. Serve Union Square Cafe’s Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Poppy Seeds and Lemon (thunderous applause). Or, roast whole Brussels Sprouts to detonate their sweet nuttiness: toss them lightly in olive oil, coarse sea salt and black pepper. Roast them for 12 minutes on a metal tray in a preheated 425°F oven. Flip them over, and roast for another 12 minutes until sweetly caramelized (pop in mouth like candy). For more hearty fare, try our Heavenly Sprouts: steamed, dried and sautéed with bacon batons and sliced Onions. Deer resistant.

Average seed life: 3 years.

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Gardening Tips

Brussel Sprouts Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4” -1/2”
Row Spacing:24”-30”
Plant Spacing:18”
Days to Germination:9-15 days
Germination Temperature:70°-75°F

For best results, raise as transplants, sowing seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the set out date, in a cool greenhouse or protected growing area. Plant 3 to 4 seeds per 3" pot in a sterilized seed mix. Keep evenly moist. Thin to the strongest individual seedlings. By late spring/early summer, approximately 12 weeks before the first fall frost, plant out in well-draining, moderately fertile soil in full sunlight. Fertilizer lightly: too much nitrogen can cause mottling and black centers in the sprouts. For gradual harvest, cut sprouts while small, sweet and tightly-wrapped, starting low on the stem, allowing the higher ones to keep growing. To harvest all the sprouts at once, pinch the growing top of the plant, forcing the entire stem to mature at once. A member of the Brassica family, Brussels Sprouts should not be grown in the same site as other Brassicas for 4 years. Light frost brings out their innate sweetness!

Harvesting Sprouts
If you want your Brussels Sprouts to mature quickly and uniformly, nip off the top at the time the lowest ones on the stem are nearly harvest size. Bear in mind however that this will remove the protective leaves at the top of the stem. These would normally droop down over the sprouts, protecting them from frost. So, if you want a long, late harvest, leave the top alone. You’ll be able to pick the sprouts all during the fall and early winter. We serve them on Christmas Day! If very cold weather threatens, cut the entire stalk, bring indoors and store it in the fridge. It will keep for weeks that way!

Brussels Sprouts for Christmas
Most of the Brassica family—such as Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli and Mustard Greens—are famously frost tolerant, but Brussels Sprouts are among the most stalwart. Even when ice and snow cause the big floppy leaves to sag, those little elfin Cabbages clustered about the stem are still firm and sweet. In Maine we count on them as an early winter treat, and it has become a tradition to have buttered Brussels sprouts on our Christmas table. If the weather turns beastly we pick whole stems and keep them in a cold room for a side dish on December 25.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties