Brussel sprouts are a form of cabbage that come from the mustard family. They are a common winter vegetable known throughout Europe and North America for their small, edible buds which are called “sprouts”.
Brussel sprouts are usually cooked before eating and can be found on many tables during the holiday season, as they’re sourced fresh from grocery stores or farmer’s markets during winter months and typically frozen during spring and summer. They contain a high level of Vitamins A,C, and K, manganese, folic acid, and dietary fibre.
You might be wondering how brussels sprouts are grown and whether you can grow them yourself. The simple answer is that yes, you can grow them yourself either in the vegetable garden or using containers.
This article goes in depth on which containers are best for growing brussel sprouts, where you should place your brussel sprout containers, when to plant in your containers, and how to care for the resulting vegetables.
Ideal Containers for Growing Brussel Sprouts
When brussel sprouts start to grow, they grow to be large plants. It’s because of this that they should be planted in large pots. As a rule of thumb, each pot or container being used for a single plant should be able to hold at least 5 gallons of soil. If you’re looking to plant multiple plants in one container, the pot should be even larger — so large that you can leave 24-30 inches of space between each.
Your chosen container can be made of any material so long as it drains well. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes and is made of plastic or wood, consider adding your own drainage holes as they are vital to the health of your brussel sprout plants.
This being said, your containers should be light in color as lighter colors don’t attract as much sunlight, therefore generating less heat and keeping the soil inside cool. Clay pots tend to be a good choice if you live in a climate that doesn’t see too much frost; they are light in color, ideal for drainage, and provide good air flow.
Where to Put Brussel Sprout Containers
Brussel sprouts in pots can be grown just about anywhere so long as they receive 6 hours of sunlight per day and aren’t left in the heat for too long. They can be successfully kept on porches, on windowsills, and in areas of partial shade if you live in a generally warmer climate. These areas can include on a shady balcony, under a covered porch, or alongside the house underneath the lip of the roof.
It’s a good idea to learn the patterns of the area in which you intend to put the brussel sprout containers so that you can place them in the ideal locations accordingly.
When to Plant
When deciding when to plant your brussel sprouts, your best bet is to use a calendar to locate the first official frost date for your region. Once you’ve found this date, count backwards 8-10 weeks to find the ideal date for planting your seeds in their pots.
When you initially plant your seeds, it’s recommended to keep them indoors, giving them ample time to germinate before bringing them outside to face the elements. First, seeds should be planted in seed pots. Once they start to germinate, they can then be moved to small pots and then outside.
You want to avoid planting your seeds when it’s too hot or cold outside. More specifically, if it’s cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to put off planting to give your seeds a better chance of survival.
If your seeds haven’t yet germinated, you can put them in their pots outside 2-3 weeks before the first frost date. Alternatively, if you have a frost blanket to protect them with you could put them outside 3-5 weeks before the frost date.
Best Soil for Brussel Sprout Containers
Like many of the other members of the cabbage family, brussel sprouts do best in slightly clay-like, well-draining soil. If the soil you have doesn’t have enough drainage material, you can consider adding a product like perlite, sand, or vermiculite. All of these medias work to improve drainage and aid air flow to the roots of the brussel sprouts.
Brussel Sprout Container Care
Brussel sprouts that are grown in containers must be watered regularly to grow and produce vegetables. The soil should never be allowed to dry out. However, it should be kept moist but never allowed to get soggy, as this leads to growing problems such as root rot and makes the roots more susceptible to parasites and hungry insects. Avoiding too much moisture will also help to avoid mildew.
Brussel sprouts do well when they are fertilized. To properly fertilize your young brussel sprout plants, dissolve one tablespoon of 15-20-15 soluble fertilizer in one gallon of water and apply roughly six weeks after transplanting your plants from seed pots to small, regular pots or containers.
The more you water your brussel sprouts, the more you’ll need to fertilize your plants, as frequent watering leaches nutrients from the soil.
The initial transplanting should only be done after the plants of 5 leaves or after 6 weeks have passed. When transplanting, be sure that only one or two plants are housed in a single container. If more than one plant is potted in the same pot, as we mentioned briefly above, you’ll need to ensure that each plant has 24-30 inches between them.
To make transplanting easier, initiate the process after watering your plants. This ensures that the roots are pliable and easier to work with, making them less likely to be damaged. After transplanting, water and feed your plants.
When it comes down to harvesting, you know your brussel sprouts are ready when the heads are 1-2 inches in size. They should be green and firm. To harvest, twist each one off carefully by hand.
When harvesting during the fall, continue to regularly harvest until the first hard frost of the season.