Watering Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts belong to the Cabbage family. The crop is a slow-growing, long-season vegetable. In most climates, brussel sprouts are planted in late spring to early summer and produce high-quality sprouts as the fall months bring in cooler weather.

Brussel sprouts will grow best with consistent given at the right times. It is crucial that the crop receives at least one inch of water per week, and as the plant gets bigger and starts to produce flowers and brussel sprouts they should get around 2 inches of water per week.

Brussel sprouts should receive between 1-2″ inches of water per square foot every week. Inadequate levels of water will lead to the damage of brussel sprout heads and create a bitter taste of the crop.

If the soil dries out between watering intervals, it is suggested that watering occur more than once a week.

One way to ensure Brussel Sprouts remain properly moisturized is through irrigation. There are two primary methods of irrigation for brussel sprouts: drip irrigation and overhead or sprinkler irrigation.

There are advantages to both systems of irrigation, and commercial growers of brussel sprouts rely on these systems to produce the greatest crop.

Watering levels depend on geographical location, soil types, and the weather of the growing season. In hotter growing seasons mulch on top of the soil can help the soil retain moisture. The mulch helps to retain moisture and also eliminate the threat of weeds.

How Much Water Do Brussel Sprouts Need?

Brussel sprouts should receive 1-2″ of water per week for the best growth. They should get less water when the plants are smaller and more as the plant gets bigger and starts to flower and produce brussel sprouts. They should also get more water in hotter temperatures.

Maintaining adequate moisture levels for brussel sprouts is important to avoid stressed and stunted plants and because failure to do so can result in a bitter taste of the crop or cause mature sprouts to split open.

To conserve soil moisture and reduce weed growth, brussel sprouts can be planted within a small bed of mulch.

The 1-2″ of water brussel sprouts should receive includes rainfall. We use wunderground.com to get an idea of expected rainfall for the upcoming week and then a rain barrel to measure actual rainfall. You can use a wide mouth rain gauge to get accurate readings of actual rainfall.

It is important to note that the type of soil in which Brussel Sprouts are planted tend to dictate the amount of water they need. Lighter sandy soils rely on more frequent watering but require less water per application.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension coarse and sandy soil specifically, an inch of water will wet the soil approximately ten inches deep. For heavier clay-like soil, one inch of water will wet the soil roughly six inches deep.

Some experts suggest using an irrigation method to ensure brussel sprouts receive adequate watering. Gordon Johnson, a vegetable and fruit specialist at the University of Delaware Extension, states that special attention should be paid to Brussel Sprouts during the summer months and that irrigation can be used to ensure the crop receives one inch of water per week during July, August, and September (University of Delaware Extension).

How Often To Water Brussel Sprouts?

The general consensus is that Brussel Sprouts need to be watered at least once a week and receive at least one inch of water. Because the soil in which Brussel Sprouts are planted should remain somewhat moisturized at all times, watering should occur more than once a week during the hottest summer months and especially during flowering and brussel sprout production.

Proper watering will ensure that brussel sprouts produce well-formed, large, sweet sprouts. To help retain soil moisture, it is recommended that brussel sprouts be planted within a three-inch deep layer of mulch.

Tips for Watering Brussel Sprouts

  • Check the soil moisture levels by feeling down 3-4″ into the soil with your hand. Run the soil between your fingers and gauge the moisture level based on the consistency of the soil. If it’s mostly wet let it be and if it’s dry or almost dry it’s time to water.
  • Water more during hot weather to ensure that the soil does not dry out between watering.
  • Water during the early morning to limit the amount of water that evaporates and to keep the crop’s foliage dry. Watering during the middle of the day leads to water evaporating from the top soil and air quickly and watering late at night leaves the chance that some foliage will stay wet which can lead to disease. Watering during the early afternoon is the second best time.
  • Use drip irrigation lines on timers for ease and consistent watering. The system can be time consuming to install but afterwards watering can be set up to be automatic. It’s an efficient use of water.

In the central coast of California, for example, commercial growers irrigate brussel sprouts using hand-move sprinkler lines. However, when applying this method, Brussel Sprouts need to be irrigated approximately every 10-14 days. The long irrigation interval is possible on the coast because of lower evapotranspiration rates and due to the fact Brussel Sprouts have a rooting depth of two to three feet, according to University of California Cooperative Extension Monterey County.

However, drip irrigation methods pose many advantages for brussel sprouts compared to sprinkler irrigation methods. The windy conditions which are apparent within the central coast of California can deter the uniformity of sprinkler irrigation. However, these windy conditions do not deter drip irrigation systems.

Additionally, drip systems can be designed to disperse water at lower rates, which in turn irrigate greater acreage during individual irrigations, as opposed to sprinklers. Furthermore, during drip irrigation, run-off levels are severely minimized.

It is suggested that drip irrigation methods provide a more uniformed moisture level amongst the crop in comparison to overhead or sprinkler irrigation. Drip irrigation is also preferred in locations where water pumping capacity may be limited.

Please comment below with your own thoughts on watering brussel sprouts or the garden in general!

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