Brussels sprouts – firm treatment required

Isn’t it lovely to know that there is something that loves heavy clay soil. Having had cause to visit the plot today and having come away about four inches taller than when I arrived, owing to the ‘platform soles’ my boots had developed as a result of walking over the soil (don’t do this if you can humanly avoid it, compacting wet clay soil makes it difficult to grow anything on it, but until we get proper cross paths, I have to walk on the soil sometimes) I am glad to remember that Brussels sprouts love a firm, fertile soil. If you have grown Brussels in the past and they’ve ‘blown’ – that is, become open frilly sprouts instead of nice tight ones, it’s almost certainly because your soil has been too loose. Infertility can also cause blowing, so you need to ensure that you have either dug in lots of manure in the previous autumn, or planted your sprouts where your beans were in the previous year. Then let the soil go to sleep for the whole of the winter, so that it becomes firm.

If you have an acid soil you’re inviting club root, so you will need to lime the surface, using lime at the right quantities and digging it in early in the autumn so the earth can settle again.

As your plants grow, hoe gently around them to remove weeds, but remember not to loosen the soil directly around the roots and not to dig in with the hoe. And to ensure there is no root rock, which loosens the plant in the soil, you will want to support them so that the later, stronger, winter winds don’t blow your crop to the ground. Put in stakes when you plant your seedlings, one for each plant and tie them in securely.

Next year I want to grow purple Brussels sprouts, although I haven't heard anybody say they perform as well as the green ones, I shall just have to have both!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Friday, November 28, 2008

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