Anyone who can grow cabbage can grow Brussels sprouts. Everyone who likes cabbage will like Brussels sprouts better. But the same carelessness that produces woody, rank flavored cabbage will have a like effect on Brussels sprouts. People who give the plant a fair trial in the garden and the kitchen soon swell the ranks of lovers of this popular vegetable.
Any garden soil that will grow good cabbage can be relied upon to produce good sprouts. An ample supply of humus and nitrogenous food in the soil is desirable as in the case of any other leaf crops. The seed may be sown at the same time and in the same way as cabbage seed. For very early crops it may be sown in a cold frame in late fall, protected during winter with mats or shutters, and the plants set out as early in the spring as the ground can be worked. For second early it may be sown in the spring and transplanted in April. But since the plant makes most delicately flavored heads during cool weather, the most popular time of sowing is June.
When thus grown the young plants are set out in the garden 3 by 2 feet apart at six weeks old and given clean cultivation for six weeks. From September until hard freezing they need little or no attention unless the season be very dry.
In such cases liberal watering will improve the quality and quantity of the sprouts. The bulk of the picking is done between October and December, though in mild winters, especially on the Atlantic seaboard and in the southern states, some may be gathered until March and even April. For the New York market the east end and north shore of Long Island furnish large quantities as a second crop following potatoes. Generally the plants are cut about December i and stored for winter picking. The sprouts are packed in berry boxes. A packer can put up 125 to 225 boxes a day, and a picker can gather 200 to 275 quarts a day, Yields range from 3,000 to 4,000 quarts, or even more, an acre.
A leading grower, John Young of Long Island, chooses plants of dwarf habit, in which the sprouts grow so closely together as to conceal the stem. For commercial purposes, Mr. Young prefers land that has been in sod two or three years. This he fertilizes with 1,500 pounds high-grade fertilizers broadcasted before the plants are set. Frequently he uses nitrate of soda at intervals during the season.