Brussels Sprouts are part of the Brassica family and a traditional winter favourite, especially for Christmas dinner! A bit like, Marmite you either love them or hate their pungent flavour!
Sprouts can be sown early in the year, indoors from February-March in seed trays for an earlier crop. You can plant them out early summer to save space as they are slow growing and require the same protection as you would any of the brassica family for example cabbages or you will have issues with eaten leaves and more.
You also need to be mindful of club root. You can improve the drainage and add alkaline to help, although this is a fungal infection and can stunt the growth of the plant or even die. A sign this is happening is that the leaves turn yellow.
They will require plenty of space between plants when they are transferred to their final soil bed due to the plant's structure and size of the leaves. Allow approximately 30 inches around each brussels sprout plant. They will also need a bit of shelter from any winds; you can earth the stems up a bit to offer more support as they grow taller.
Water regularly during dry spells. They will also benefit from some high in nitrogen feed during the summer.
During early autumn onwards, the Brussels Sprouts will start to form. The mature, sprouts will be at the bottom upwards, so in order to start harvesting, begin at the bottom. The sprouts should be tightly formed and firm. They snap off the stem with a little tug downwards. Some growers like to cut the plant at the stem to keep them on the plant and harvest in one go.
The sprout tops are also edible when the plant is spent at the end of the season. It is of popular opinion that sprouts' taste improves after a sharp frost.
You may still be producing sprouts into the following Spring, dependent on the variety and conditions.
Brussels Sprouts can be picked, washed and cooked fresh or they can be blanched and frozen.
They can be enjoyed by boiling in the traditional way or pan-fried with bacon and butter!