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When to start brussels sprouts

Maturing brussels sprout plant

We've only been growing brussels sprouts for a few years, so I'm not surprised that I'm still working the kinks out of our system. This looks to be a good year for them...but I can't take credit for the success. Because the big, beautiful plants like the one shown above were purchased at the beginning of August as already good-looking sets.

Young Brussels sprouts

In contrast, my best-looking homegrown plant is running about a month behind. If we have a mild late fall, we'll get a good crop from this bed, but a harsh, early winter could just as easily wipe these plants out before they bear.

Moral of the story: start brussels sprouts earlier than you think you need to. I'd say the beginning of May would have been about right in our neck of the woods.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I had the same learning curve here in Central PA: they are not a fall crop to be planted in summer, but an-all season one I plant as early as my summer crops. I also now foliar feed them with fish emulsion once a month and cut the tops of the plants off in September. Great harvests so far since I've begun this protocol about 5 years ago.
Comment by Julie Mason Sun Nov 1 07:09:51 2015

I have to seed mine in mid-May for a mid-June transplant date. In our location I have to get certain fall crops in before the Solstice or they will not produce. I skipped brussels this year, and am thinking of going to kalettes since I have had no luck really growing OP Brussels, only hybrids.

I went to a vegetable trial in September put on by a group that I belong to at the Oregon State University research farm, and part of the trial was for planting dates of overwintering coles. Interesting to say the least. I am looking forward to the March trial meeting to see how each of the fall winter plantings fared over winter.

Comment by Nita Sun Nov 1 08:59:12 2015
I am attempting brussel sprouts for the 3rd or 4th time this fall - prior attempts have yielded tiny amounts. My sprouts are still very tiny though the plants look good. Are you fertilizing still? What temperature under row cover have you found they will survive to. I'm in the Asheville area, a little warmer than you.
Comment by Katherine Sun Nov 1 18:19:57 2015

Julie --- Sounds like I need to follow your lead! I think we're a very similar climate to central Pennsylvania.

Nita --- Fascinating about the planting-date trial! I hope you'll post on your blog or here if you find out what they learn. I'm still working out the best planting dates even for our old standbys like kale. Right now, I plant at three different times, and one always does better. But I keep forgetting to take notes and find out whether the best bed is always planted at the same time!

Katherine --- My only fertilizer for nearly all crops is compost topdressed at planting time. In Asheville (especially if you're in the city itself), your brussels sprouts might hold up all winter under a row cover. We haven't put row covers over them before this year, but they usually do well for us until around New Year's uncovered. It doesn't seem to be a certain low temperature that causes the sprouts to rot so much as continuous low temperatures. Good luck!

Comment by anna Mon Nov 2 12:28:26 2015

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