Shelter, firm soil and sun
Choose a sheltered spot for sprouts, out of the wind. They need a fair bit of sunshine, and fertile soil (add plenty of organic matter) that is firmed down well.
Raised beds and traditional plots
Brussels sprouts are tall plants so are best grown in raised beds or a traditional veg patch, rather than in pots.
How far apart
50-60 cm apart
Firm up the soil
When you plant them, firm the soil up by pressing down on it with your foot. This will help the plants to stay standing up properly on windy days.
Protect with a brassica collar
You can make these easily out of cardboard. Cut a 10cm diameter disc, cut into the centre and make a slit so that you can pop it around the base of the plant. This is to prevent cabbage root fly larvae from hatching by the base of the plant and burying under the soil to eat the roots.
Net against pigeons and butterflies
Pigeons love brassica plants and will easily destroy a crop of young plants in a morning. Meanwhile, cabbage white butterflies are attracted to brassicas and lay eggs on the leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are quick to nibble away the leaves and strip the plant bare. To protect against both these pests, cover plants with fine netting.
Watch out for slugs & snails
Sprouts seem to be particularly popular with slugs and snails so make sure they are well protected – beer traps work well.
Earth up as plant gets taller
Once the plants get taller, bring a little soil up around the base of the stalk to form a little molehill – pat it down firmly. This will help to keep the plants steady on windy days.
Water well during dry spells
As weather warms up it is important to keep cauliflower cool and to give them enough water. Try to keep the soil consistently moist rather than allowing it to dry out.
When to harvest
It’s easy to see when they’re ready to be picked in late autumn and winter, but you don’t need to rush as they’ll keep well on their stems for a fair while. Harvest a few from each plant at a time, starting at the bottom – cut them off with a knife.
Alternatively you can harvest an entire stalk.
Don’t forget, you can use the top head of leaves as you would a cabbage.