Areas and climates that have below freezing temperatures in winter should sow brussels sprouts in late spring or early summer. If temperatures don’t reach freezing during colder months you can start seeds as late as early fall.
As part of the cabbage family, brussels sprouts are long-season and hardy vegetables that are some of the most slow growing plants in the garden.
But, if you’re willing to take on this challenging plant, it can be incredibly rewarding with delicious results. The trick is sowing seeds at the right time in spring or summer to guarantee a late fall or early winter harvest.
The USDA hardiness zone of your area will determine when it’s best to plant Brussels Sprouts. Although they will grow in any zone between 2 and 9, you want to ensure you plant at the right time for optimum success. Ideally you want them to be ready for harvest in autumn and into winter.
This is because a touch of cool weather while they are finishing up is what makes for tasty brussel sprouts that are more sweet than bitter.
Brussel sprouts can stay in the garden as long as temperatures remain above 20 degrees, per University of Minnesota Extension. Time in the cool weather makes brussel sprouts have a more sweeter taste than bitter.
To make sure you get winning results, count backwards from the first fall frost in reference to the “days to maturity,” as detailed on the seed pack, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac first expected frost date. For brussel sprouts a good goal is to plant about four months prior to autumn’s first frost.
This is a great tool that right down to your own zip code will give you the first & last expected frost dates based on historical data. It’s been found to be accurate 70% of the time at predicting dates that are the first or last frost dates. More than anything it gives you a good idea of when you’re growing season is.
In Santa Clara County, California, a grow trial was done with some brussel sprouts being planted in April and then harvested 6 times with the last harvest being in February, 10 months after the plants sprouted. Needless to say, but I will anyway, they have a nice long growing season there.
What Month To Plant Brussel Sprouts
In general, begin planting seeds between the end of May and the first half of July. If you live in an area where winter temperatures don’t often drop below freezing you should start planting brussels sprouts toward the end of July and into mid-August.
Is It Too Late To Plant Brussel Sprouts
It takes brussel sprouts around 90-140 days after planting to yield harvestable sprouts. You need good growing temperatures, average lows above 55, for at least this amount of time to get a good harvest.
Take a look at the average temperature in your area and see how much of a growing season you have left. Choose varieties of brussel sprouts that reach maturity and harvest time quicker than others. Check with local nurseries and see if they have any seedling brussel sprout plants to cut out the time it takes for the seed to germinate and some of the vegetative growth.
Should I Start Brussel Sprouts Indoors?
If you have the room it’s a good idea to start brussels sprouts indoors. Starting seeds indoors provides protection from pests and diseases and allows you to maintain a controlled and consistent environment.
It extends your growing season and allows you to get a longer and bigger overall harvest from the brussel sprout plants.
The keys to having excellent brussels sprouts is planting at the right time so that the plant finishes out and then cool weather hits. Start seeds about five months before the first frost.
This gives them the best shot at having a good taste and developing a firm, crispy texture.
Growing brussel sprouts successfully takes time, patience and effort, but once they produce you can take pride and enjoyment of this wonderful cold weather crop.
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