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Old February 22, 2011   #16
husker nana
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b54red
I have grown Brussles Sprout from seeds the last two seasons. They did better the first year as it was a cooler season. I plan on planting them again as we love them.

My question is why do you use household ammonia with the fertilizer every two weeks.
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Old February 23, 2011   #17
b54red
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I sometimes add a little just to give a small boost of nitrogen above what is in the Miracle Grow. This is just an easy way to add a little nitrogen to the liquid solution since it is not easy for me to apply a good side dressing of nitrogen. I have also used a little Ammonium Nitrate dissolved into the fertilizer solution when I have it. This is mainly for the Brussels Sprouts which seem to really like a little extra nitrogen. I used to use chicken manure and would just scratch a little around the plants and then water the heck out of them.

I apply to both the soil and the foliage. Just make sure it is very dilute; I use about a 2 tsps to the gallon and give the soil a good drench. If applied in too concentrated a form it will burn most plants.

I did an unscientific test a while back in two identical raised beds. Both were amended with composted manure, cottonseed meal and alfalfa pellets. One bed of Brussels sprouts got the extra fertilizer every two weeks starting at plant out and the other just got a good watering. The results were conclusive for me since the treated bed produced nearly twice as many sprouts in the same period and the sprouts themselves were of a larger size to match the larger plants. I think the main reason the treated sprouts did better is because the plants grew faster and reached a good size before the spring weather got too warm. As soon as the temps get too high down here the sprouts will not form a tight head but instead make a loose little cabbage like thing between the stems.
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Old February 23, 2011   #18
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Thank you all for the replies, advice and recommendations. Hopefully, more folks here will be encouraged to try growing them this season.

Like spinach, Brussels sprouts have an undeserved black eye in the minds of a lot of folks. This is likely due from either being served them over-cooked as a child or eating some that were harvested before they had a chance to develop sugars from exposure to a light frost, i.e. bitter tasting.
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Old February 23, 2011   #19
b54red
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Another reason they have a black eye is because they really are difficult to grow successfully. I've been growing them for nearly 25 years and for many of those years had little success. Down here where winters are usually short it is a real challenge to get the plants growing and out in time to take advantage of the cool weather. Timing is critical in every aspect of growing Brussels sprouts from the seed starting to the cooking and if you are off in your timing it can be a disaster. Despite all that I grow them every year and have been fairly successful for the past 5 years. So it only took about 20 years to get it right. The reason it took me so long to figure it out is for years I used bought plants and almost every time they were only available when it was too late. Occasionally we would have a very late spring and I would be blessed with a good crop and that kept me trying. This year it has been one week shy of 6 months since I started my seed and I would guess that I am still a couple of weeks away from picking the first sprouts.
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Old February 23, 2011   #20
David Marek
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Best planted early and picked late. Last year I cut all the stems 11/6 or so, before a 19F night. We have too many freeze/thaws around here to leave them out. I am sowing seeds indoors today.
My experience:
Jade F1- Planted early last year and plumped up uniformly
Oliver F1- Planted out a bit late, they were uniform, mostly small, but sweet. Easy to pick.
Long Island Imp- Less uniform than the hybrids, sometimes I just get leafy tufts where the sprouts should be.

All plants were beheaded mid-end september
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Old February 24, 2011   #21
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It's beginning to look like this might be a bad year for Brussels sprouts this year down here. We have had weather in the mid to high 70s for over a week now and even the nights are barely getting below 60. This is not good for them forming sprouts. If the cool weather doesn't come back soon then it will be too late. Of course it could be great for tomatoes.
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Old February 24, 2011   #22
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Quote:
So it only took about 20 years to get it right.
So maybe I'll get it figured out before I die, after all! I will have to try the fertilizer boost.

I put out lots of BS plants this year (started from seed) and got none. Zip. Here in Missouri it's neither warm enough to winter them over (we can get some very hard freezes, early) nor do we have enough snow to insulate them from the freezes. I grew them successfully a number of times in Michigan and would go out in the middle of winter and dig them out of the snow and they were just fine. But we love them enough to keep trying.

We've planted, over the last ten years,
Bubbles
Diablo
Mezzo Nano
Oliver
Jade Cross
Long Island Improved.

Agree with David M that Long Island Improved is not as nice as the hybrids. Ditto for Mezzo Nano.

I just finished eating a bowl of BS for an evening snack. They were purchased from the local grocery chain, which had them for $1.99/lb, which I believe to be a good price. They were delicious! I boiled them until just tender and then served them with a pat of butter and some salt. I'm thinking I might try sauteeing some in a skillet, perhaps with a touch of honey or sugar, to get a nice carmelization.
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Old February 24, 2011   #23
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My favorite way to eat brussels sprouts is in winter soup. I use one or two kinds of dried beans, some grains (usually barley or rice), fill teh big pot to the halfway mark with water, bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. While it's simmering, I cut up at least 5 or 6 types of vegetables -- carrots, celery, onions, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts cut in half, parsnips, beets, etc. -- and add them, enough to fill the pot. It lasts a few days, and I invariably pick out the brussels sprouts first if I'm looking for a snack. They're perfect, silky and with just the slightest edge of bitterness. I add extras each time, cumin or chili powder or curry or tomato paste or whatever, to make it a little different.

I've never seen the purple or red varieties at farmers' markets here, but it'd be fun to grow them!
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Old February 24, 2011   #24
kath
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I LOVE brussel sprouts, even from the store, but don't buy them because they're not organic. My efforts to grow them from seed have had dismal results despite the area they occupy in the garden for such a long time and the bt spraying they need. Reading these posts leads me to believe I didn't fertilize enough, nor did I top them. Now I'm tempted to try again, but it'll have to wait until I control my tomato growing a bit and have some room for them.
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Old February 25, 2011   #25
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Ooh, Ruth - try sauteeing some in a skillet with butter and garlic (or oven roasting)...
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Old February 25, 2011   #26
b54red
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Ruth and Kath, I think you should try starting them from seed in mid to late fall and taking them inside during severe cold and when it gets near the end of winter plant them in the garden and make a cover out of plastic for them so you can cover them if it gets below 26 or 27 degrees for more than a few hours. That way the plants will be fairly large by the time spring gets there and they should have time to make. I would definitely use Bubbles because of their ability to make faster than most others and they are not as large so it is easier to keep them covered with adequate air space around them to protect them. Our problem down here is it can go from the 20s to the 80s in a few days. Sometimes we don't even have a spring, just winter then summer. That is what it is looking like this year. My Brussels sprouts are between 12 and 15 inches tall and it is already hitting 80 degrees. If it stays that warm the sprouts will not form.

To make an easy to use cover for protecting the plants just get some pvc conduit or black flexible water pipe. Cut it in lengths that will form a hoop about a foot above your plants and push the ends into the soil for support. Put one about every 5 ft down the row or bed and then just roll a piece of plastic over it and weight it on each side and the ends. You can open the ends on days over freezing but below 50 degrees to allow it not to get too hot if it is sunny. If it is cloudy you can leave the ends closed unless it gets above 65 or so. If the days heat up over 50 and it is bright and sunny you may need to loosen one side and roll it over and put it back over at night or when the temps will once again be well below freezing. It is kind of like making a small greenhouse for your Brussels sprouts. If you like them as much as I do then it is worth the trouble, and it is a lot of trouble.
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Old February 25, 2011   #27
Timbotide
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All this talk about Brussels Sprouts is making me want to try growing and
eating them. My county agent told me to start them between Sep 1 and Oct 1
But I'm wondering if he means setting out the plants at that time.
I may get me some seed and plant some in august to see how they do for me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by b54red View Post
Ruth and Kath, I think you should try starting them from seed in mid to late fall and taking them inside during severe cold and when it gets near the end of winter plant them in the garden and make a cover out of plastic for them so you can cover them if it gets below 26 or 27 degrees for more than a few hours. That way the plants will be fairly large by the time spring gets there and they should have time to make. I would definitely use Bubbles because of their ability to make faster than most others and they are not as large so it is easier to keep them covered with adequate air space around them to protect them. Our problem down here is it can go from the 20s to the 80s in a few days. Sometimes we don't even have a spring, just winter then summer. That is what it is looking like this year. My Brussels sprouts are between 12 and 15 inches tall and it is already hitting 80 degrees. If it stays that warm the sprouts will not form.

To make an easy to use cover for protecting the plants just get some pvc conduit or black flexible water pipe. Cut it in lengths that will form a hoop about a foot above your plants and push the ends into the soil for support. Put one about every 5 ft down the row or bed and then just roll a piece of plastic over it and weight it on each side and the ends. You can open the ends on days over freezing but below 50 degrees to allow it not to get too hot if it is sunny. If it is cloudy you can leave the ends closed unless it gets above 65 or so. If the days heat up over 50 and it is bright and sunny you may need to loosen one side and roll it over and put it back over at night or when the temps will once again be well below freezing. It is kind of like making a small greenhouse for your Brussels sprouts. If you like them as much as I do then it is worth the trouble, and it is a lot of trouble.
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Old February 26, 2011   #28
b54red
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Tim you need to set them out in Sept. or Oct. and you will need to start the seed by at least early August. The seed need to be started indoors in the air conditioning because they don't germinate well in the heat. You also need to keep the plants indoors until it cools down some. I didn't get my seed started til Sept. 4 and it didn't cool off enough to set them out til early November and the squirrels ate my first planting. I set out again the 25 of November and it is looking like that may be too late this year the way it is warming up now.
If I was you I would start enough to do multiple plantings so you can find the best time for your area. Of course that seems to change every year.
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Old February 26, 2011   #29
Timbotide
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b54red View Post
Tim you need to set them out in Sept. or Oct. and you will need to start the seed by at least early August. The seed need to be started indoors in the air conditioning because they don't germinate well in the heat. You also need to keep the plants indoors until it cools down some. I didn't get my seed started til Sept. 4 and it didn't cool off enough to set them out til early November and the squirrels ate my first planting. I set out again the 25 of November and it is looking like that may be too late this year the way it is warming up now.
If I was you I would start enough to do multiple plantings so you can find the best time for your area. Of course that seems to change every year.
Bill, You gave me just the information I was looking for and
Now I will get me some seed. One of our local farm stores had
Some Plants but I was hesitant about buying any considering how
Warm it is.
My Wife and Daughter won't touch them with a ten foot pole but
I love vegetables and will try them all.
Thanks for the help.

Tim
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Old February 27, 2011   #30
b54red
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Tim your wife and daughter might change their mind if they have some fresh from the garden. To me Brussels sprouts are one of those things that like tomatoes is so much better than store bought that I will no longer purchase them if I can't grow them. They might find the Bubbles variety more appetizing than some of the others as it seems to be milder and sweeter. I usually try to grow two varieties and now unless I find something better for our climate, Bubbles will always be one of the two.
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