A biennial herb, Brussels sprouts (brassica oleracea var. Gemmifera) are renowned for their axillary buds which are harvested in winter before being eaten. Its flowers are blue and its leaves are rounded and serrated.
Cultivation and care of Brussels sprouts
This plant should be installed in the sun and sheltered from the wind. Even if Brussels sprouts are not finicky in relation to the state of the soil, it is still recommended to avoid those that are sandy or too wet. The early varieties can be sown in February under a frame, before being transplanted in the ground when the young plants reach a dozen centimeters. It is also possible to sow them in furrows between March and April. In this case, they must be lightened in order to distance the plants by 75 cm. A few weeks before transplanting, the soil should be enriched with compost or manure. In case of high heat as in summer, do not hesitate to water regularly to keep the soil moist, and to use nitrogen fertilizer and potassium sulphate. After planting, it takes about 90 days to harvest ears comprising 20 to 75 small cabbage 3 cm in diameter. Harvesting takes place from autumn to spring. However, it is not recommended to pick all the buds at the same time to avoid damaging the plant. When all the cabbages have been picked, the bad leaves will have to be removed to encourage the next harvest. Brussels sprouts are productive for about 3 years, then need to be replaced.
Diseases and risks of Brussels sprouts
Watch out for the cabbage fly, but also for aphids which can be irradiated with natural insecticides, homemade manure or essential oils like neem. There is also the hernia of cabbage which is due to a fungus. In this case, use a natural fungicide such as rosemary essential oil, and rotate the crops. The presence of yellow marks on the leaves indicates a magnesium deficiency. To remedy this, it is good to mix magnesium sulfate with the irrigation water. There are also small tips to avoid unpleasant surprises: do not water the leaves, rotate the crops, introduce insecticidal plants nearby such as basil or thyme.
Preparation and recipe with Brussels sprouts
Before cooking the cabbage, it must be prepared: shorten the core, make a cross cut at the base to speed up cooking, remove the damaged leaves, wash with vinegar water then rinse and drain. Cooking Brussels sprouts: with water, sauteed with butter, gratin ... It is also used as an accompaniment or as a salad. These small vegetables can be kept for a week in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, or can also be frozen after being blanched. Tip: to avoid flatulence, cook the cabbage in two waters before consuming it.