How to Grow Squash

SQ732-1

The three species of squash that we offer represent a wide variety of shapes and colours. Each will cross-polliinate readily whithin their species. For instance, all C. pepo will cross-pollinate with each other, but not with C. maxima or C. moschata. For people who want to save their seeds, this is a very important consideration. The fruits themselves will not be affected by cross pollination, but the seeds inside will be, so squash need to be grown in isolation from other members of their species if seed saving is the goal. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Squash from seeds Guide and grow food.

Latin
Cucurbita maxima, C. pepo, & C. moschata
Family: Cucurbitaceae

Difficulty
Easy, but all squash plants take up space, and some can be huge.

We Recommend: Squashes are so different from one to another that it’s hard to make a recommendation. First Taste Kabocha (SQ732) stands out, in our opinion, among many other squash varieties. We love the flavour and the keeping potential, and the plants don’t get out of control. Gold Nugget (SQ744) also comes to mind, as it can be super-productive in a very small space – it’s fruits form at the base of a single vine, and we’ve seen as many as 10 fruits per plant, which is a very sweet return.

Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Not winter hardy. Compare the days to maturity to the length of a typical summer in your area. Days to maturity are from transplant date.

Timing
Direct sow or transplant in late May or early June once the soil is warm. For transplants, start seeds indoors during the first two weeks of May. Make sure plants are in the ground no later than June 15th. Optimal soil temperature: 25-35°C (68-95°F). Seeds should germinate in 7-14 days.

Starting
Sow seeds 2cm (1″) deep. Sow 3 seeds in each spot where you want a plant to grow, and thin to the strongest plant. Space summer squash 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 90-120cm (36-48″) apart. Give winter squash and pumpkins even more room with a minimum of 90-120cm (36-48″) apart in rows 120-180cm (48-72″) apart.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. These big plants need lots of food. Use 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer worked into the soil beneath each plant. All squash grow male flowers first, at later female flowers. The female flowers have tiny fruits at the base of their petals and require pollination by bees mostly. Incomplete pollination often happens at the beginning of the season, and results in misshapen fruits that are withered at the flower end. Just discard these damaged fruits before they begin to rot.. You can encourage bees to your garden by growing Phacelia or Buckwheat for improved pollination.

Harvest
Summer Squash: pick when small, if fruit gets big the plant stops producing. Check the plants regularly!

Winter Squash: Fruit is ripe if your thumbnail doesn’t mark the skin and the stem is dry and brown. Cut the stem about 4cm (2″) from the fruit. Squash survive a light frost, but store better if harvested before frost.

Storage: Field-cure for 10 days in the sun, or cure indoors in a warm room for 4 or 5 days. To prevent mould sponge the skins with a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach. Store at 10-15ºC (50-60ºF) with low humidity with good air circulation. Try on a shelf in the garage.

Seed Info
In optimal conditions at least 80% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 2 years. Per 100′ row: 180 seeds, per acre: 15M seeds.

Diseases & Pests
Bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) – Remove an destroy infested plants. If striped or spotted cucumber beetles appear, control as early as possible. Powdery mildew – avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so that above ground parts of the plants dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants and eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to improve air circulation. Viral disease – remove and destroy entire infested plant along with immediately surrounding soil and soil clinging to roots.

Companion Planting
Companions: corn, lettuce, melons, peas, and radish. Avoid planting squash near Brassicas or potatoes. Borage is said to improve the growth and flavour of squash. Marigolds and nasturtium repel numerous squash pest insects.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Rutabagas

Laurentian Rutabaga Seeds RU692-1

The humble rutabaga is often called a turnip, but rutabagas are much more useful in the kitchen, are more nutritious, and store well. Amazing yields of flavourful roots are possible in a small space. Introduce rutabagas on dip trays (like carrot sticks), soups and stews, and raw in lunch boxes. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Rutabagas from seed Guide and grow great storage vegetables for your root cellar this season.

Latin
Brassica napobrassica

Difficulty
Easy

We Recommend: Laurentian (RU692) has been a WCS favourite for many years. It’s hard to imagine improving on this reliable workhorse.

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 2-10

Timing
Direct sow mid-June to July 15th. Optimal soil temperature: 18-21°C (65-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-15 days.

Starting
Sow seeds 5mm-1cm (¼-½”) deep in rows 60-75cm (24-30″) apart. Thin seedlings to 15-20cm (6-8″) apart in each row.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Rutabagas are moderate to heavy feeders that do best in rich, loamy soil amended with composted manure. Add 1 cup complete organic fertilizer beneath each 3m (10′) of row. Lime beds several weeks before planting. Rutabagas appreciate lots of organic matter in the soil. Water copiously in hot, dry weather.

Harvest
Pull up rutabagas when they are larger than tennis balls. Store in paper bags in a cool, dry place. Storing in dry sand or peat moss may conserve moisture and freshness. Otherwise, leave in the ground for fall harvesting. The leaves are also tasty and nutritious.

Seed Info
At least 60% of seeds should germinate in optimal conditions. Usual seed life: 4 years. Per 100′ row: 300 seeds, per acre: 65.4M seeds.

Diseases & Pests
Use a floating row cover to protect seedlings from root maggots and flea beetles. Full sized plants are not badly damaged by these insects.

How to Grow Rhubarb

How to grow Rhubarb Canadian Red Rhubarb Rootstock RH101

An essential addition to the perennial vegetable bed, rhubarb will produce year after year, and it’s easy to grow from seed. Just be patient for the first year and a half after sowing, as plants need to become established prior to harvest.  Follow along with this handy How to Grow Rhubarb from seeds Guide and grow some pies.

Latin
Rheum rhabarbarum
Family: Polygonaceae

Difficulty
Easy

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: Hardy in zones 2 – 9

Timing
Sow indoors in April and transplant or direct sow in mid-May where plants are to grow permanently. Optimal soil temperature: 16-25°C (60-75°F). Seeds should sprout in 5-10 days.

Starting
Sow 2cm (1″) deep, but plan for large plants. One plant will satisfy the needs of one household. Farm rows 100-120cm (36-48″) apart, plants 120 (48″) apart in the row.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Any well-drained moderately fertile garden soil will do. Mulch around plants in fall with finished compost or well rotted steer manure. Choose a sunny spot. Rhubarb is cold hardy and drought tolerant. After growth stops in the fall, the plants go dormant, and require a period below 4°C (40°F) to stimulate good spring bud growth. In the second year, remove flower stalks as they appear. Divide plants every 4-5 years. A well maintained plant should produce for over a decade.

Harvest
Do not harvest during the first year of growth. Cut the tart red stalks from February to April after the first year of undisturbed growth. Do not eat the leaves. Stalks can be harvested all at once or selectively as required.

Seed Info
In optimal conditions, at least 50% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years.

Diseases & Pests
Pests: Watch for slugs around new seedlings. Otherwise, rhubarb is a tough, hardy plant with few pests.

How to Grow Celery and Celeriac

Tall Utah 52-70 Celery Seeds CL343

Celery is a refreshing treat from the garden. Children love the stalks with some natural peanut butter. Celery is also great when juiced. Celeriac is a variety of celery that is grown for its root, which can be used in a variety of culinary dishes. You can steam, bake, boil, puree or stir-fry this delicious root — the possibilities are endless! You may also opt to store the root in a cool and dry area of your home. On the Coast, consider growing for picking in the fall and early winter. Follow  this handy How to Grow Celery and Celeriac from seeds Guide and grow food.!

Latin
Apium graveolens
Family: Apiaceae

Difficulty
Moderately difficult

We Recommend: Tall Utah 52-70 (CL343). This classic open pollinated celery seed will probably produce as close to “grocery store quality” as you can achieve in the home garden. The stems are crunchy with a high water content and very refined flavour.

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full-sun
Zone: 2-10

Timing
Start indoors early March to the end of May. Optimal soil temperature: 15-24°C (60-75°F). Seeds take up to 20-30 days for germination.

Starting
Sow seeds no more than 5mm (¼”) deep, 3 seeds per pot, and thin to the strongest plant.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.5. Celery is a heavy feeder and needs rich, moist soil. Add compost to soil and apply ¼-½ cup of complete organic fertilizer per 1.5m (5′) of row. Transplant when seedlings are 10-12cm (4-5″) tall, in mid-May to July. Space transplants 30cm (12″) apart in rows at least 45cm (18″) apart. Water frequently. Premature bolting may result from young plants being exposed to temperatures below 13°C (55°F) for several days.

Harvest
For best flavour and longer storage, water plants the day before harvest. Stalks on the outside of the plant can be harvested at any time. The entire plant may be harvested once the desired size is reached, but the home gardener should leave the plant in the garden and take only what is needed, leaving the root intact. If winter is not too cold, celery will stand in the garden until spring, allowing for light pickings for soups and salads.

Seed Info
In optimal conditions at least 55% of seeds should germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years.

Diseases & Pests
Use floating row covers early in the season, and put up collars if cutworms are present.

Pests: Aphids, Whiteflies, Cutworms, Tarnished plant bug, and Cabbage loopers.
Diseases: Celery mosaic, Leaf blight, Black heart (calcium deficiency: add lime).

Companion Planting
Celery is a good partner for beans, the Brassicas, cucumber, garlic, leek, lettuce, onion, and tomatoes.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Cauliflower

White Cauliflower Blend how to grow cauliflower

A fresh, home-grown crown of cauliflower is a thing of beauty – crisp, nutritious, and intensely flavourful.  Follow along with this handy How to Grow Cauliflower from seed guide and grow food.

Latin
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis
Family: Brassicaceae

Difficulty
Moderately difficult

We Recommend: Amazing (CF306). Among a number of excellent hybrid varieties, Amazing is a great place to start. Harvesting your first homegrown cauliflower is terribly rewarding, and Amazing may be the perfect seed for newbie cauliflower growers.

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full-sun
Zone: 3-10. Overwintered types are only hardy down to -12 to -19°C (16 to -5°F).

Timing
Start indoors from early March to mid-June. Transplant in 5-6 weeks. Direct seed when temperatures are reliably above 10°C (50°F). Overwintered types are started in July, transplanted by August 15th. Optimal soil temperature: 10-30°C (50-85°F). Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.

Starting
Sow 3-4 seeds 5mm (¼”) deep in each spot you want a plant to grow. Thin to the strongest plant. Space transplants 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 60-90cm (24-36″) apart.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Humus-rich soil amended with composted manure is best. Mix ½ cup of complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each transplant. From seedling to harvest, cauliflower must grow steadily to make a large plant and curd. If growth slows, scratch additional fertilizer into the surface of the soil around each plant. Maintain even soil moisture with regular watering. Shade the developing curds from sun by tying up leaves or using newspaper. This is known as “blanching,” and will keep them white. Add 20-25 days to the maturity dates if direct sowing.

Harvest
Once curd forms, check every day and cut when the florets are just beginning to separate. At this point the flavour is at peak quality and the size is maximum.

Seed Info
In optimal conditions, at least 80% of seeds should germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 200 seeds, per acre: 44M seeds.

Diseases & Pests
Slugs and snails – Slugs are attracted to beer, so place a little beer in a cup dug into the ground. Sprinkle broken eggshells around plants to deter slugs and snails.
Flea beetles – Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control weeds.
Cabbage root maggot – White maggots (larvae) attack all plants of the cabbage family. Larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants a little later on.
Cabbage aphids – A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.
Cabbageworms – Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.
To help reduce disease, do not plant cauliflower or other Brassicas in the same location more than once every three or four years.

Companion Planting
All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage. Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Carrots

Crisp and sweet Ya ya carrots

Whatever type of carrot seeds you plant it’s easy to learn how to grow carrots from seed.  Here are some common characteristics. Carrots are biennials, so they use their leaves in the first year, to gather energy from the sun to build a big, starchy root. This is where they store their energy over the winter. The following spring they use that stored energy to send up a tall umbel of white flowers, looking strikingly similar to Queen Anne’s Lace to which they are closely related. When the weather gets cold in the first year of growth, carrots convert a lot of their starches to sugars, so the roots become sweeter in winter.

Carrot Shapes

Carrot Chart

All carrots can be harvested immature as baby roots, which tend to be crunchy but tender, and quite sweet. They can also be left to reach their full size, shape, and colour, of course. All carrots are high in beta-carotene, a pigment that we metabolize as vitamin A when we eat it. A lack of vitamin A can result in poor vision, hence the notion that carrots are good for your eyesight. Carrots are also rich in Vitamins C, B6, and Niacin.

Because of the relatively vertical nature of the plant’s form, carrots can be grown fairly densely, and are therefore useful within the economy of space in a smaller growing area. That is, even a little garden can produce a lot more in carrots than by, say, lettuce of cucumbers. The seeds can be sown from early spring right through late August for a harvest that will last nearly year round, so they form an essential part of nearly every vegetable garden.

The trick with carrot seeds is to sow them shallowly and then maintain moisture in that top layer of soil until they germinate. Because they may take as long as three weeks to germinate, this can be challenging, especially in hot weather when the surface of the soil is nearly always dry. The way to achieve this is to water very deeply prior to planting, and then either water very regularly or employ some other means to reduce evaporation. Some growers like to use lightweight row cover, which helps to maintain moisture and has the added benefit of keeping away the dreaded carrot rust fly. But we’ve also seen some growers simply lay a 2×4 beam, or even plywood, over the damp seedbed. This is lifted every few days to check on progress, and then removed at germination.

If you have the luxury of growing carrots without the presence of carrot rust flies, you may still be concerned with soil dwelling insects such as wireworms, which seem to be true lovers of carrots. They are so attracted to carrots, in fact, that a full-grown carrot makes a very good lure for wireworms. Just bury carrots or pieces thereof in several areas around the intended seedbed, and mark where you bury them. If wireworms are present, you can then dig up the carrot pieces and easily remove the wireworms from the bed, or at least go a long way to reducing their population.

Take extra care with your carrot bed to insure that the soil is loose and completely free of stones or other debris. Truly beautiful carrots are easy to grow if you take the extra time to produce a good home for them. Avoid nitrogen-heavy fertilizers and manure that has not been composted for more than a year, as you may end up with big, bushy tops on pitiful, spindly roots.

Latin
Daucus carota
Family: Apiaceae

We Recommend: Bolero Pelleted (CR284). It’s not fair to recommend one carrot over another because they are all so different and appealing in their own ways. But for simple ease of planting Bolero Pelleted seeds can’t be beat. Pelleting is an organic clay substance that encases each seed. Carrot seeds are very tiny, and notoriously easy to over-plant. Pelleted seeds are easy to handle, and can be placed one by one into the row at the correct spacing. Plus Bolero is a very nice, flavourful carrot.

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full-sun
Zone: 4-10

Timing
Direct sow April to mid-July for harvests from July to November. Direct sow winter-harvest carrots in the first two weeks of August. Sow at 3 week intervals for a continuous harvest. Optimal soil temperature: 7-30°C (45-85°F). Seeds take as long as 14-21 days to germinate.

Starting
Because carrot seeds are tiny, they need to be sown shallowly. The trick is to keep the top-most layer of soil damp during the long germination period. Water deeply prior to planting. Direct sow the tiny seeds 5mm (¼”) deep, 4 seeds per 2cm (1″), and firm soil lightly after seeding. Make sure the seeds are only just buried. Water the area with the gentlest stream you can provide, and keep it constantly moist until the seeds sprout.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. The softer and more humus-based the soil, the better. When soil is dry enough in spring, work it to a fine texture. Broadcast and dig in ½ cup complete organic fertilizer for every 3m (10′) of row. Avoid fresh manure. Carrots will become misshapen, but still edible if they hit anything hard as they grow down into the soil. Keep weeded and watered.
It is very important to thin carrots in order to allow them room to grow, and so they don’t compete for available nutrients, moisture, and light. Then to 4-10cm (1½-4″) when the young plants are 2cm (1″) tall. Use wider spacing to get larger roots. As they grow, carrots push up, out of the soil, so hill soil up to prevent getting a green shoulder.

Here are some more good tips on how to grow carrots from seed.

Harvest
Carrots can be harvested at any size, but flavour is best when the carrot has turned bright orange. After harvest, store at cold temperatures just above 0ºC. You can store in sand or sawdust, or simply leave carrots under heaped soil in the garden during the winter, and pull as you need them.

Seed Info
In optimal conditions at least 60% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 2.4M seeds, per acre: 1,044M seeds. Rates are for raw, not pelleted seeds.

Diseases & Pests
The Carrot Rust Fly – This pest lays its eggs at the base of the growing carrots. The larva of the fly chews tunnels and unsightly grooves through the surface of the root, causing rot. Unfortunately the damage isn’t just cosmetic; the activities of the Carrot Rust Fly larva changes the flavour of the carrot and makes it quite inedible. Use our floating row cover to keep the adults away from the carrots. Plant after the beginning of June to avoid the first and worst infestation period. The good news for apartment dwellers who want to grow carrots on their balconies is the Carrot Rust Fly is not a good flyer. It is unlikely to infest their high-rise crop.
Wireworm – These are the larva of click beetles. They are about an inch and a half long, slender and reddish brown. When squeezed they turn as rigid as a wire, hence the name. Wireworms chew irregular holes through roots, making the carrots inedible. Wireworms prefer a moist soil so preparing your carrot bed so that it is well drained will help. Interplanting with mustard leaf is an excellent way to discourage wireworm damage. The flavour of the mustard is one deterrent, and mustard also helps to dry out the soil, forcing the wireworm away from the roots.
Predatory nematodes are an effective control for both Carrot Rust Fly and wireworm. Apply generously in the spring when the larva of both pests is most active.

Companion Planting

Plant with bean seeds, Brassicas, chives, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, peppers, pole beans, radish, rosemary, sage, and tomatoes. Avoid planting with dill, parsnips, and potatoes. Carrots planted near tomatoes may have stunted roots, but will have exceptional flavour. Chives also benefit carrots.

More on Companion Planting.

How to Grow Carrots Infographic Page 1

How to Grow Carrots Infographic Page 2

How to Grow Cabbage

How to Grow Cabbage from Seeds

Cabbage is another member of the Brassica family that is full of nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, as well as various antioxidants. The American Cancer Society strongly urges an increased intake of cabbage and other Brassicas in the diets of North Americans. Eating lots of cabbage may also protect the eyes from macular degeneration. To preserve its vitamins and mineral content, do not overcook cabbage. Store cut cabbage in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with holes in it and use as soon as possible. Cabbages are also highly ornamental in the garden -choose varieties for colour, deep-red, blue-green, dark-green or leaf texture, savoyed (crinkled), or flat leaf. To learn How to Grow Cabbage  follow the easy instructions below.

Latin
Brassica oleracea var. capitata
Family: Brassicaceae

Difficulty
Moderately difficult

We Recommend: Charmant (CB231). For a standard green, summer harvest cabbage, Charmant is a great choice. Other cabbages have their selling points, and they’re all good but if your are new to cabbage growing, try Charmant.

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full-sun
Zone: 3-10

Timing
Sow indoors beginning in March and transplant outdoors from April to the end of July. Overwintering cabbage is sown outdoors during July. Optimal soil temperature: 10-30°C (50-85°F). Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.

Starting
When learning how to grow cabbage, sow 3 or 4 seeds per pot, 5mm (¼”) deep, under very bright light. Thin to the strongest plant. Space transplants 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 60-90cm (24-36″) apart.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.5-7.0. Cabbage does best in humus-rich soil amended with composted manure. Mix ½ cup complete organic fertilizer into the soil beneath each transplant. If growth slows, side dress with a little more complete organic fertilizer. Heads of early varieties can split from over-maturity, rapid growth after heavy rain, or irrigation after dry spells. Splits can be delayed by twisting the plant or cultivating deeply next to plants in order to break roots and slow growth. Fall and winter varieties stand in the garden longer without splitting. If direct sown, add 20-25 days to the maturity date.

If your cabbage won’t form heads, it may be from an imbalance of too much nitrogen in the soil in relation to phosphorus. Cabbages require cool temperatures to form heads well. Hot weather can interfere with the development of heads.

Harvest
Cabbage heads are ready when they’re firm to the touch, and when the interior is fairly dense. Heads will split when they’re allowed to overly mature. Rapid growth due to excess watering and fertility will also cause splitting of the head. Plant early, mid-season and late varieties to spread out your harvest. Late varieties tend to be better for storage or for making sauerkraut. Early varieties tend not to store well.

Seed Info
In optimum conditions at least 80% of seeds should germinate. Uual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 200 seeds, per acre: 44M seeds.

Diseases & Pests
Diseases
Purple blotch (Alternaria porri) – Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so plant parts above the ground dry as quickly as possible. Allow for air circulation, and avoid crowding plants. Pull weeds around plants and garden area to increase air circulation. When plants are not wet, remove and destroy affected plant parts. In autumn rake and destroy all fallen or diseased leaves and fruit.
Clubroot – If soil infested, add lime to raise soil pH to 7.2. Locate new plants in part of garden different from previous year’s location. If that is not possible, remove infested soil and replace with fresh soil. Purchase healthy transplants or start seed in sterile potting mix or fresh ground. Remove and discard or destroy entire infested plant along with immediately surrounding soil and soil clinging to roots.

Pests
Flea Beetles – Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in mid-summer. Control weeds.
Cutworms – Control weeds. Cardboard collars around each plant give good protection.
Cabbage root maggot – White maggot larvae tunnel in and feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, death of plants later on. Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage.
Cabbageworms – Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.
Cabbage aphids – A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.

Companion Planting
All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage. Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes.

More on Companion Planting.

Learn more About Cabbage.

How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

Igor Organic Brussels Sprout SeedS BS219

Brussels sprouts are a superb holiday treat. Like broccoli, these little “cabbages” are full of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and fibre. And after frost, they become sweet, as the plants create sugar for antifreeze! Keep your plants moist and well-mulched during the heat of summer, to ensure your supply of Brussels sprouts until the holidays. These big top-heavy plants are some of the easiest brassicas to grow. You should be able to expect a large harvest from only 4 or 5 plants. Follow along this handy How to Grow Brussels Sprouts and grow mini cabbages this season.

Latin
Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera
Family: Brassicaceae

Difficulty
Moderately difficult

We Recommend: Igor (BS219). You pay a bit more for this hybrid Brussels sprout, but the plants are so uniform and productive, it’s worth every penny. This is a great variety for gardeners who are new to the crop.

Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full-sun
Zone: 3-10

Timing
Start indoors at the end of May or early June. Transplant to the garden by mid-August so the plants are in the ground for 45-60 days before the first hard frost. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 10-30°C (50-85°F). Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.

Starting
Sow 3-4 seeds per pot, 5mm (¼”) deep, under very bright light. Thin to the strongest plant. Transplants should be set out when they have 6-8 true leaves. Space transplants 45-60cm (18-24″) apart in rows 75-90cm (30-36″) apart.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.0-7.5. Plant in humus-rich soil amended with composted manure. Mix ¼ cup complete organic fertilizer into the soil under each transplant. High nitrogen levels result in loose sprouts with internal browning, so do not fertilize after midsummer. Cool temperatures during sprout development are important for compact, quality sprouts.

Harvest
Sprouts are sweeter after moderate freezes. Pick when sprouts are firm and well-formed, beginning with the ones at the bottom. The upper sprouts continue to form and enlarge as the bottom ones are harvested. For a once over harvest, to ensure you have enough for your holiday meal, pinch out the growing point at the top of the stem when the lower sprouts are 1-2 cm (½-¾”) in diameter. A full stem of evenly sized sprouts will develop in about 2 weeks.

After harvesting the sprouts, there is another harvest-in early spring. The plant sends up long, edible flower stalks which are tender and sweet when steamed, or served raw with a dip.

Seed Info
In optimum conditions at least 80% of seeds will sprout. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 170 seeds, per acre: 30M seeds.

Diseases & Pests
Pests
Slugs and snails – Slugs are attracted to beer, so place a little beer in a cup dug into the ground. Sprinkle broken eggshells around plants to deter slugs and snails.
Cabbage aphids – A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.
Cabbage root maggot – White maggot larvae feed on roots of plants. Damage causes wilting early on, and the death of plants later on.
Flea Beetles – Use row covers to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer. Control weeds. Nematodes feed on the larvae of these pests.
Cutworms – Control weeds. Cardboard collars around each plant give good protection.
Cabbageworms – Handpick and destroy. Row covers may be useful on small plantings to help protect plants from early damage. Put in place at planting and remove before temperatures get too hot in midsummer.
Diseases
Clubroot: If soil is infested, add lime to raise pH of soil to 7.2. Locate plants in a part of the garden different from previous year’s location. If that is not possible, remove infested soil and replace with fresh soil. Start seeds in sterile potting mix or fresh ground. Remove and discard or destroy infested plants along with the surrounding soil and soil clinging to roots.

Companion Planting
All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage. Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes.

More on Companion Planting.