From Brussels with love
I just love Brussel Sprouts, each year I wait with anticipation for them to arrive in the shops and ripen in the garden. If you haven’t planted your sprouts yet you need to get a move on. Generally we encourage you to plant in December – January for an early winter crop.
It’s now too late to sow seeds for plants for this year but you can plant seedlings which you will find in your garden centre now. Look for healthy green plants with straight stems. Brussel Sprouts are a member of the Brassica -cabbage, cauli family, hence they look like baby cabbages. They are thought to have got there name from the city of Brussels in Belgium from where they are thought to originate.
This year I have planted 2 varieties, Tight head which is a popular traditional green variety and the red variety called Red Rib. Red Rib is doing particularly well although so far its not very red, the plants are a purple blue colour similar to red cabbage (which doesn’t look that red either). I am hoping the red ones will be as tasty as the green ones. Time will tell.
Commercially most of NZ’s Brussels sprouts are grown in either Ohakune or Oamaru. If you are buying Brussels sprouts choose ones that are roughly the same size. Avoid yellow, loose, soft or wilting leaves. When harvesting your own sprouts remove any that look motley or have been attacked by hungry caterpillars. Once harvested they are best stored in the fridge.
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C, fibre, folate and a good source of other B group vitamins and vitamin E.
- Choose a sunny position away from strong winds. Be prepared to stake stems if you live in a windy area.
- Soil should be dug over and composted before planting. Brussels will grow well in containers and pots too.
- Add some lime - to prevent club root
- 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 3 months after planting. Pick them from the base up when they are firm and of a decent size. Plants can produce sprouts for up to 10-12 weeks.
How to use:
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.