However, if you have a freezer it may be easier to make a single sowing of either type and freeze the surplus. Brussels sprouts occupy quite a lot of space over about eight months, so they may not be a wise choice for very small gardens.
Planning the crop
Sprouts grow well only in fertile and reasonably limey soil. They need a cool to cold climate to perform at their best. Dig in compost together with blood and bone. Then spread lime on the surface. How many to grow A 3 m row of plants should yield about 7.5 kg of sprouts.
Varieties– For a tried and tested F1 hybrid, grow Peer Gynt. Long Island is a trusted old variety. Rubine is a red sprout that keeps its colour when cooked. It is less attractive to cabbage white butterfly.
Make your first sowings of early varieties in midspring in a sheltered seedbed. Sow the seeds 1 cm deep in drills 25 cm apart. Thin the seedlings to at least 5 cm apart when they are about 2 cm high. Early varieties will be ready for harvesting from early autumn to early winter. Sow later maturing varieties in midspring, with similar spacings to early varieties. They take mature; harvest from midwinter.
Transplanting– When plants are about six weeks old and 10-15 cm high, transplant them into their final bed and apply a top dressing of a pelleted slow-release organic fertiliser. Only select healthy, strong-looking plants and plant them firmly in the ground, each plant 45-60 cm apart in rows the same distance apart – the closer spacing is for compact varieties. Loose planting is the most likely cause of ‘blown’ (open) sprouts. Water the sprouts thoroughly in dry weather. Stake the plants individually if they seem to rock in strong winds.
Pests and diseases
Major pests are aphids, cabbage root fly, cabbage white butterfly, whitefly, cut worms, caterpillars and flea beetle. Diseases are club root and leaf spot.
Harvesting and storing
Pick when sprouts are small, the leaves tight and firm. Harvesting standard varieties after frost improves the taste. Pick the lower sprouts first. You can encourage sprouts at the top of the plant to swell by removing the cabbage-like head.