Allotment winter crops and summer preparation

So the cage is ready and the kale is in it and the purple sprouting broccoli will go in too, this weekend. The Brussels sprouts are outside it though. Why? Because even Cabbage Whites don’t seem at all attracted to Brussels sprouts. We have both red Brussels and green ones, as you can see.

Sometimes aphids will land on Brussels, but if you wash them off with the hose they never seem to come back, unlike on other plants where the infestations are almost unending. Add to the pest-free element the fact that Brussels sprouts don’t need a lot of care, just regular watering and hand-weeding because they have shallow roots. You don’t even have to feed them, because if you do give them too rich a soil the sprouts simply ‘blow’ and become leafy. You may need to stake them (note in the photo that we staked ours from planting out, because Sussex by the Sea is noted for its winter gales and damned if I’m going to try and get stakes in the ground in October and risk damaging the roots on my lovely brassicas, when advance planning allowed me to get the stakes sorted out in May!) if you live in a windy area.

You can pinch out the top of the Brussels in September, which is what those growers do who have started producing Brussels ‘canes’ that turn up in supermarkets with all the little sprouts still on the stem. If you don’t pinch out the top, the sprouts will mature at different times, if you do pinch out, then all the sprouts tend to be ready at once. If you have a big family and want sprouts for Christmas, pinch out some tops in September to guarantee a full stem of sprouts for dinner in December. If you don’t have a big family, leave the tops in and you can harvest over a much longer period. Or, if you’re like me, and adore Brussels Sprouts, do some of both.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Friday, July 3, 2009


Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

I've got six Brussel Sprout plants (the only survivors in my vege garden), all of which will be ready to pick from about two weeks on (great tip on the pinching, I'll remember that one for next year).

We're past our shortest day Down Under, and I should have planted my garlic, but we've had three weeks of freezing weather, so I've decided to wait for the first sunny day.

July 6, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

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