Brussels sprout, cultivated for its small, leafy green buds and resembling miniature cabbages belongs group of the family Brassicaceae, and is named after the city of ‘Brussels’ in Belgium from where it’s believed to have originated.
Brussels sprouts are among the same family that includes cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, kale, and kohlrabi.
Long Island is a trusted old variety, while Rubine is a red sprout that keeps its colour when cooked.
With the availability of new F1 hybrids, many of the old non-hybrid varieties have been left behind because of their non uniform growth habits. The F1 Brussels sprouts have a tendency to mature all at the same time, and the plant holds their mature buttons for many weeks without opening.
When, where and how to plant:
These are easy to grow plants, and grow well when planted in seed trays and then planted out in 4-6 weeks.The edible sprouts grow like buds in a spiral along the side of long thick stalks of approximately 60 to 120 cm.
Brussels sprouts survive better in cooler areas, as in warm areas they are prone to be infested with aphids.
• Soil should be dug over and composted before planting.
• Add some lime - to prevent club root.
• Either sow seeds or buy seedlings.
• Sow seeds in trays before pricking out into their own pots.
• After 6 weeks seedlings should be ready for planting.
• Set approx 40-50cm between plants in rows that are 40cm apart.
• Water the plants with a diluted liquid fertiliser when transplanting to stop wilting.
• Water regularly.
Harvesting of Brussels sprouts usually begins around three months after planting. Pick them from the base up when they are firm and of a decent size.
How to use:
When preparing to cook with Brussels sprouts, remove any discoloured outer leaves.
Serve Brussels sprouts as a side vegetable - boiled, micro waved or steamed. You can also add to a stir-fry by cutting them in half. Do not over-cook as that tends to bring out a distinctive smell most people dislike.
Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre. Moreover, they are believed to protect against colon cancer.