An essential part of the tradional Christmas lunch, Brussels' sprouts are the key Christmas vegetable. Originally cultivated in Brussels in the 13th century, the Brussels sprout has received a mixed review in the past. However, if cooked properly, they can be delicious. Sprouts contain cancer fighting properties as well as being rich in vitamin C, D, folic acid and fibre.
Prepare the bed a few months prior to planting by digging over and incorporating plenty of well rotted manure. Seed can be sown directly into the ground from mid April onwards. Plant the seeds 2.5cm deep and 10cm apart. Cover with soil and water gently. The seeds will germinate in approximately 10 days depending on weather conditions. Alternatively, seeds can be sown into pots of potting compost and transplanted into the bed one month later.
In May, when the danger of frost has past, transplant the seedlings into their final positions. Plant in rows 60cm apart, taking care to avoid disturbing the roots. Firm the soil and water well. Ensure you water your sprouts thoroughly during the growing season or your yield will be severely depleted. Remove competing weeds on a regular basis.
Sprouts are ready to harvest at the end of the year and taste best if picked after a hard frost. Using a sharp knife, remove the lower sprouts from the stem (these mature first). This will ensure that the stem is not damaged and successive cropping can occur.
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