Brussels sprouts are a world-wide variety of white cabbage. It was bred by selection by Belgian gardeners a long time ago, at the end of the 17th century. It was in honor of its creators that the culture got its name. Its parent naturally grows in the Mediterranean, that is, in a subtropical climate. From him, Brussels sprouts inherited thermophilicity, so they are not very popular in Eastern Europe and Russia. Nevertheless, it is quite possible to get a crop even in temperate climates if you first familiarize yourself with the recommendations for caring for the crop.
Brussels sprouts look very unusual. Thick straight stems about 0.5-1 m high are densely covered with small, no more than 3-4 cm in diameter, heads of cabbage, similar to white cabbage in miniature. They are comparable in size to walnuts. On one plant they can be from 30-50 to 100-120 pieces. These heads of cabbage form in the axils of narrow leaves with long petioles. In most varieties, they are colored green with a bluish-lilac tint, the surface is bubbly. At the top of the stem, the leaves form a small rosette that persists even during fruiting. Heads of cabbage, depending on the variety, can be either very dense or rather loose.
Brussels sprouts look quite unusual, from a distance the plant resembles a miniature palm tree
Of all the cabbage varieties, Brussels sprouts have the longest growing season. The formation of heads of cabbage takes at least four months, and on average - 150-180 days. During all this time, it should be warm enough - 20-24 ° C. That is why, in the European part of Russia and in other regions with a temperate climate, culture has not become widespread among amateur gardeners. The harvest simply does not have time to ripen in the conditions of a short and not always warm summer.
Brussels sprouts - a plant with a long growing season
In the Urals and Siberia, the culture is grown exclusively by seedlings, transferring it to the garden bed no earlier than mid-May. Seeds are planted at least two months before. In the Moscow region and in the European part of the territory of Russia, it is advisable to choose early or mid-early varieties and hybrids for planting. Then even if the seeds are planted in the ground in the first half of May, the harvest can be harvested somewhere in the middle of October. And in the southern regions it is already warm enough in April.
Brussels sprouts have large leaves with long stalks
At the same time, the thermophilic Mediterranean culture is quite frost-resistant. The same cannot be said about the seedlings just planted in the ground, but adult plants are able to withstand a short-term temperature drop down to -8 ° C.
The root system of Brussels sprouts is quite powerful. Therefore, it suffers less than other varieties from heat and poor watering.
Heads of cabbage from Brussels sprouts can be both dense and quite loose
Brussels sprouts among relatives are the champion in the content of vitamins and microelements. It is also rich in amino acids (practically not inferior in this indicator to meat and dairy products) and proteins (there are only slightly less of them than in legumes). It is almost indispensable for those who adhere to vegetarian dietary principles.
Heads of cabbage are extremely healthy. The high content of iodine, potassium, phosphorus, iron determines the benefits of Brussels sprouts to increase immunity and restore it after a serious illness or surgery. Also, its regular use is an effective prevention of diseases of the heart, blood vessels, and the thyroid gland. Heads of cabbage acquire a characteristic bitter aftertaste due to the presence of glucosinolates. It is scientifically proven that they prevent the development of malignant tumors.
Brussels sprouts are not only healthy, but also very tasty
The benefits of Brussels sprouts are fully preserved when frozen. The taste does not suffer either. Another way to preserve the harvest for a long time is drying.
There are also contraindications. Brussels sprouts are not recommended to be included in the diet for those who suffer from joint diseases, in the presence of kidney or gall bladder stones, as well as in exacerbation of chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
Breeders have developed varieties of Brussels sprouts with red leaves, such an unusual shade is due to the high content of anthocyanins
Like any variety of cabbage, it is a plant with a two-year development cycle. If you leave it in the garden for the winter, next year, large pod-like fruits with many black seeds inside will form in place of the heads of cabbage. They can be collected and used for future planting. They retain germination for a long time, for five years.
In place of the heads of Brussels sprouts, if they are not cut, fruits and seeds are formed the next year
Gardeners who cultivate Brussels sprouts in Russia, in the vast majority of cases, grow it in seedlings so as not to risk the future harvest. Seeds are sown in the first half of March.
Pre-planting seed preparation is mandatory. First of all, they are placed in a thermos filled with hot (45–50 ° C) water for half an hour, then they are literally poured with cold water for a minute or two. Rejection is carried out at the same time. Seeds that float to the surface can be discarded immediately. They will definitely not germinate.
For seeds of Brussels sprouts, it does not matter if they are harvested independently or purchased, pre-planting preparation is required
Then the seeds are soaked for half a day in a solution of any biostimulant. Suitable as a drug bought in a store (Epin, Zircon, potassium humate), and folk remedies (aloe juice, succinic acid, honey diluted with water). After that, they are washed and kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours, in a special box for storing vegetables and fruits.
The final stage is etching for 15–20 minutes in a solution of any biofungicide (Ridomil-Gold, Baylon, Topaz). You can replace it with raspberry potassium permanganate solution. This is necessary for the prevention of fungal diseases, to which any type of cabbage is very susceptible. After that, the seeds are washed again, dried to a state of flowability and they can be planted.
Seedlings of Brussels sprouts give quick enough, but the whole process of growing seedlings takes at least two months
Seedlings of Brussels sprouts are grown according to the following algorithm:
Two-month seedlings are planted in the ground. By this time, the seedlings should already have 5-6 true leaves. Their average height is 18–20 cm, the thickness of the stem is about 5 mm. Depending on the climate and weather in the region, the specific landing date falls on the period from mid-May to the end of the first decade of June. A week before, the seedlings stop watering, the potted substrate is well moistened only about an hour before the procedure.
For planting seedlings, choose a cloudy, cool day. Or you need to wait for the evening when the sun goes down. An interval of 55-60 cm is maintained between plants, the same gap is left between the rows of plantings.
It is advisable to plant seedlings of Brussels sprouts in cloudy weather, for the first time they are protected from direct sunlight
The depth of the hole for planting Brussels sprouts is 12-15 cm. A little humus and a tablespoon of wood ash are poured onto the bottom. To repel pests - onion peels. Wells are well spilled with warm water. Brussels sprouts are planted in the mud. Seedlings are buried in the ground to the lowest leaves. The soil near the stem is well compacted so that the seedling does not turn out of the ground as it grows. Then the plants are watered again abundantly, spending about a liter of water each, and the soil is mulched when the moisture is absorbed. For the first 7–10 days, arcs are installed over the seedlings of Brussels sprouts and any white covering material is pulled over them, protecting it from direct sunlight until the plants take root in a new place.
Mulching saves the grower time on weeding and watering
The area of Brussels sprouts is quite large and ripens slowly. To save space on the site, spicy herbs are planted in the aisles. Another option is marigolds, calendula, lavender, chamomile. They scare away many pests from the culture.
Directly in the garden, seeds of Brussels sprouts with the expectation of obtaining a crop in Russia can be sown only in the Black Sea region. Sometimes early varieties can be grown in the Moscow region, but only if you are very lucky with the weather in the spring and summer. And gardeners try not to risk the future harvest.
Even a slight shading of the culture reacts negatively, the heads of cabbage either do not form at all, or they turn out to be very loose. Therefore, an open place, well-lit and warmed by the sun, is taken under a garden bed with Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts cannot stand even light partial shade, they choose an open area for it, which is illuminated by the sun for most of the day
This culture prefers a fertile, but at the same time rather loose substrate with a neutral acid-base reaction. The ideal option for her is loam. As practice shows, such soil is freed from snow faster in spring and warms up to the desired temperature.
Brussels sprouts are less demanding on the quality of the soil than white cabbage, but in a heavy substrate it will not grow and develop due to insufficient aeration of the roots, and from a light sandy soil it will simply turn out rather tall and massive plants, despite a well-developed root system.
Good predecessors for Brussels sprouts are plants from the legume family, any root vegetables (except beets), onions and garlic, and herbs. Green manure is also suitable, loosening the soil and saturating it with nitrogen. But after other representatives of the Cruciferous family (cabbage, radish, radish, daikon) and Solanaceae (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes), it can be planted no earlier than in 4–5 years.
A garden bed for Brussels sprouts has been prepared since autumn. It is dug to a depth of one bayonet of a shovel, at the same time bringing in 8-10 liters of humus per 1 m². Of the fertilizers, only potash and phosphorus fertilizers are needed (15–20 g / m² and 30–40 g / m², respectively). Instead of mineral dressings (superphosphate, potassium sulfate), wood ash (0.5 l / m²) can be used. Excessive acidity is neutralized with dolomite flour or eggshell crushed to a powder. They also saturate the soil with calcium, the need for which is very high in Brussels sprouts.
Dolomite flour is a natural soil deoxidizer, if the dosage is observed, it has no side effects
In the spring, about 7-10 days before planting the seeds, the soil in the garden should be well loosened and spilled with a solution of potassium permanganate of bright crimson color or any fungicide for disinfection. After that, it is covered with a black film, which is removed only before planting. It is strictly forbidden to introduce fresh manure in the spring. This greatly inhibits the formation of heads of cabbage.
Wood ash - a source of potassium and phosphorus
Seeds are sown in the ground in the second decade of April. By this time, the temperature at night should not drop below 5 ° C. The daily indicator is at least 18 ° C. For them, exactly the same pre-planting preparation is carried out as described above. They are sown in the soil, deepening a maximum of 1–2 cm, with the same interval as the seedlings. Put 2-3 pieces in each hole. From above, the seeds are sprinkled with peat crumbs or humus, until the seedlings appear, the bed is covered with a film. This usually takes 7-10 days.
Care for seedlings in the open field is not much different from what is required for seedlings of Brussels sprouts. But there are also some differences. The soil in the garden should be weeded regularly. For protection from direct sunlight, cabbage is kept under a canopy for about a month or a month and a half or covered with spruce branches, old buckets. Water it more moderately, once every 5-7 days. Two weeks after sprouting, the garden is sprinkled with tobacco dust or ground red pepper to protect them from cruciferous flea beetles. Or you can treat plants and soil with any drug recommended to combat it.
Seeds of Brussels sprouts in open ground are planted in several pieces per hole, then the seedlings are thinned out
In the phase of the second or third true leaf, the seedlings are thinned out, leaving only one plant in each hole, the most powerful and developed. Unnecessary are cut with scissors or pinched at the very soil. You cannot pull them out so as not to damage the roots of the selected specimen.
Agricultural technology for growing Brussels sprouts is not much different from the care of white cabbage. But there are also some important nuances that you should know about in advance. The most important difference is that in Brussels sprouts 3-4 weeks before the expected harvest, you need to pinch the stem and cut off all the leaves in the outlet so that nutrients and moisture from the roots go mainly to the heads, which by that time should reach the size of a pea. As a result of this procedure, their number and size increases. It is especially important for late-ripening varieties.
Naturally, you need to regularly weed and loosen the garden bed. It is not recommended to huddle Brussels sprouts - heads of cabbage (and the largest ones) are tied even at the base of the stem. Loosening is carried out carefully, to a maximum depth of 8-10 cm. Ideally, this should be done after each watering. The mulch layer is renewed as needed. Mulching helps the gardener save time on weeding, in addition, peat, humus, freshly cut grass retain moisture in the soil. Plants will need to be watered less frequently. This is especially true for those gardeners who do not live on the site permanently.
Like all varieties of cabbage, Brussels sprouts are moisture-loving. Depending on how warm and rainy the summer is, it is watered once every 2-3 days (in normal weather for the culture) or twice a day (if there is a strong heat and there is no precipitation for a long time). Air humidity is also desirable high (70% or more), therefore, additional plants can be sprayed in the evenings.
Brussels sprouts need regular watering, this applies to both young seedlings and adult plants
The rate of water consumption is about 35–40 l / m² before the formation of heads of cabbage and 45–50 l / m² after that. The best way to water Brussels sprouts is by sprinkling to evenly wet the soil. Drip irrigation is also well suited for her, but pouring water directly under the roots is undesirable. The root system of the plant is superficial, they quickly become bare and dry.
As for fertilizers, the crop prefers natural organic matter. For the first time, Brussels sprouts are fed 15–20 days after planting seedlings in the ground or a month and a half after the emergence of seedlings.
Young plants need nitrogen to stimulate the growth of green mass. They are watered with a solution of Azofoski, Nitroammofoski, Diammofoski (25–30 g per 10 l of water). In the future, you need to be more careful with nitrogen-containing fertilizers - their excess negatively affects the plant's immunity, promotes the accumulation of nitrates in the heads of cabbage and inhibits the process of their formation.
Nitrogen in the right doses stimulates Brussels sprouts to actively build up green mass, and its excess is to the detriment of the future harvest
Starting from the end of July, once every 1.5–2 weeks, Brussels sprouts are watered with infusion of fresh manure, bird droppings, nettle greens or dandelion leaves. It is prepared for 3-4 days by placing the raw material in a container and pouring it with water. Then the container must be closed with a lid and left in the sun. Before use, the fertilizer is filtered and diluted in a ratio of 1:10 or 1:15, if it is droppings. You can alternate such dressings with a store-bought complex fertilizer for cabbage.
Nettle infusion is a natural and absolutely environmentally friendly fertilizer
Heads of cabbage that are forming need phosphorus and potassium. In mid-September, 25-30 g of potassium sulfate and 50-60 g of simple superphosphate are distributed over the garden in a dry form or water the plants with a solution, diluting the specified amount in 10 liters of water. From natural fertilizers at this time, you can use an infusion of wood ash (0.5 liters per 3 liters of boiling water). Also, ABA, Autumn preparations are suitable.
Diseases and pests are the Achilles' heel of most cabbage varieties. Brussels is no exception in this regard. Therefore, it is imperative to carry out pre-planting seed preparation, observe the planting scheme and do not forget about crop rotation.
Of the pests, the most dangerous for the culture are:
Of the diseases, Brussels sprouts most often suffer from fungi. Before planting, seeds must be pickled in a fungicide solution. But this does not give a 100% guarantee of protection against infection, especially if planting care cannot be called ideal. Most often, Brussels sprouts are attacked by the following diseases:
Do not rush to harvest Brussels sprouts if the cold is approaching. Practice shows that the taste of heads of cabbage only improves from exposure to low temperatures (within -6–7 ° C). But if a cold snap is expected to -10 ° C and below, the culture will no longer tolerate this. The stem is cut off at the base, the rosette of leaves is cut off at the top. In this form, heads of cabbage can be stored for about a month.
You should not rush to harvest Brussels sprouts, even if it snows, small negative temperatures are only good for the heads of cabbage
And if you remove the whole plant from the soil, cut off the leaves and dig in in the basement or cellar, covering the roots with wet peat or sand, the period increases to 3-4 months. Brussels sprouts will not take up much space - up to 30 plants can be placed on 1 m². Nutrients from the stem continue to flow to the heads of cabbage, so during storage they increase a little more in volume.
A dry, cloudy, cool day is chosen for harvesting. Usually heads of cabbage are cut, gradually moving up the stem of the plant. The signal that the next head of cabbage is ripe is a dried or fallen leaf, in the bosom of which it is located. As a rule, the early Brussels sprouts are cut at a time, the late ones in 2-3 approaches.
The maximum shelf life is 3-4 months. The heads of cabbage are cut off together with the stalk, with which they are attached to the stem, and those where there are not the slightest traces of insect damage, rot, mold, and so on are selected. They are laid out in small boxes or cardboard boxes, sprinkled with sawdust, sand, wood shavings, and scraps of newsprint. You can wrap each one in plastic wrap, but it will take a very long time. The boxes are stored in a basement, cellar, other dark place with good ventilation, maintaining a constant temperature of 2–4 ° C and air humidity at 70–80%.
Brussels sprouts last longer if not cut off the stems
In the refrigerator, in a special compartment for fruits and vegetables, Brussels sprouts will last no more than 4-6 weeks. Freezing will help to save the harvest as long as possible. As practice shows, the benefits and taste of the heads of cabbage do not suffer for a year and a half.
The harvest of Brussels sprouts is harvested immediately or 2-3 times, it depends on the variety
Heads of cabbage intended for freezing are washed, the upper leaves are removed if they are dry or damaged. Then they are immersed in cold water for 15 minutes, after which they are blanched in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. The excess liquid is allowed to drain, the cabbage is sent to the freezer for a few minutes, operating in shock freeze mode, by spreading the heads of cabbage on baking sheets covered with paper towels. After that, they are immediately laid out in bags with airtight fasteners and sent for storage. Frozen Brussels sprouts are cooked for a very short time before serving, literally 2-3 minutes.
Freezing helps preserve the flavor and benefits of Brussels sprouts for as long as possible
Growing Brussels sprouts, which are both delicious and healthy, is not particularly difficult. The main obstacle for the gardener is the climate. But if you plant it with seedlings and properly care for the plants, you can get a good harvest. And in the southern regions with a subtropical climate, a heat-loving culture is also grown from seeds sown directly in the garden.
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The cabbage plant (Brassica) is a member of the Cruciferous (Cabbage) family, which also includes turnips, radishes, rutabagas, cabbage, radishes, turnips and mustard. This genus unites about 50 species. In natural conditions, they are found in the Mediterranean, Central Europe, Central and East Asia. Only those species that were exported from Europe grow on the territory of America. People began to cultivate cabbage about 4 thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans did it. This culture came to the territory of modern Russia thanks to merchants, and it was introduced in the 13th century from Western Europe during the heyday of Kievan Rus. At the same time, by the 18th century, it had already very firmly entered Russian life, it was at this time that the tradition arose, after the Orthodox holiday of the Exaltation (September 27), to start collective harvesting of cabbage for the winter, for this it was chopped and salted. At the same time, for 14 days, cheerful folk games called skits were organized everywhere.In the 19th century, the famous Russian scientist and vegetable grower Rytov described already 22 varieties of cabbage.
If you do not know when to plant cabbage for seedlings, it is best to refer to the lunar planting calendar.
The agricultural technology for planting seeds is quite simple. It must be planted in small containers, no more than 5-7 cm deep. It is necessary to add the soil mixture that was prepared earlier to each of the containers. After that, the whole earth is watered with potassium manganese solution and infused for 5-10 minutes.
Then they begin to make holes for planting seeds. Their depth should be about 1 cm, and their width should be 2-3 cm. When all the seeds are planted, the holes are sprinkled with a small layer of earth and watered with heated water. Then all containers are covered with plastic wrap and transferred to a bright room. They are opened only after the first shoots appear.
If you overdo it with watering, did not keep track of the temperature, poorly ventilated, and so on, as a result of which the seedlings got sick: black leg, root rot or other ailments - do not hope that the disease will go away by itself, save the seedlings immediately.
To combat the black leg, dry the soil inside the tray (pots), sprinkle the seedlings themselves with ash and loosen the substrate.
In the fight against root rot (and black leg too) of the seedlings, treat it with Trichodermin or Rizoplan. These are environmentally friendly biological preparations, the effect is based on the action of a specially grown mycelium, which, while developing, releases substances that inhibit various pathogenic organisms.
Treatment with "Trichodermin" allows you to create a protective zone around plant roots from microorganisms, and treatment with "Rizoplan" promotes the absorption of iron by seedlings, due to which they develop immunity to the same black leg. In addition, the latter makes it possible for seedlings to fight not only with black leg, but also with various bacteriosis, stem and root rot.
"Trichodermin" should be added to the soil mixture before picking cabbage seedlings into pots, at the rate of 1 g of the drug for 1 plant. Together with it, it is necessary to add to the soil one grain of barley treated with microspores of the fungus - it is cultivated on it. With "Rizoplan" you can simply water the plants or spray the seedlings with the preparation, after diluting 1 g in 100 ml of water.
In the fight against the cruciferous flea (small striped bugs) - the worst enemy of cabbage seedlings, you will be helped by the early treatment of the seedlings with the "Intavir" preparation.
I told you all the secrets of growing strong cabbage seedlings - at least those that I knew :) I would be glad if you share your secrets of growing cabbage seedlings in the comments.