Brassica oleracea 'Red Rubine'
seed for 150 plants, foil pk
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90 days. A crowd stopper in our gardens. Deep purple-red sprouts with a wonderful rich, old-time flavour. A stunning big, purple plant for the garden, and then sprouts for your table. Performs best when planted early.
CULTURE: Although many references suggest April and May starting dates, here on the Coast, we prefer to start Brussels sprouts in early June. Very early starts are more susceptible to aphids and imported cabbageworm, and really take up primetime space in the garden. Plus, who wants Brussels sprouts in August? Cooler, foggier areas should still start early. Start Vincent and winter varieties in late June to early July and transplant to the garden by mid-August so the plants are in the ground for 45-60 days before the first hard frost. Sow seeds 1cm (1/2 in.) deep, 8-10cm (3-4 in.) apart. Space plants 45 x 45cm (18 x 18 in.) and otherwise grow like broccoli. One handful of organic fertilizer under each transplant will do well. Users of hybrids may wish to raise transplants because of high seed cost. As with other cole crops, the Brussels sprouts should have dolomite lime applied to raise the pH to 6-6.5. High nitrogen levels result in loose sprouts with internal browning; do not fertilize after mid-summer. Cool temperatures during sprout development are important for compact, quality sprouts. It also helps to stand on the ground around the roots of the plants to firm the soil and prevent the big plants from falling over.
DISEASE: Club root is the most serious disease in all brassicas. It will persist in the soil for more than 10 years. The common sources of infection are through transplants, manure, and contaminated tools and shoes. IT IS NOT SPREAD ON SEED. Increasing pH to 7.0 with dolomite lime and improving the drainage will prevent infection. Use long rotations (over 5 years) and plant brassicas in last year’s potato patch.
INSECTS: Control aphids with a hard spray of water which knocks them off the leaves for a week or so. Late varieties won't form many sprouts in summer so there is much less chance of severe aphid damage. (The aphid population usually drops radically after the first frost). Otherwise, handle like cabbage or broccoli.
HARVEST: Remove lower leaves as they yellow to improve air circulation. The leaves that protect the sprouts from endless winter rains should remain on the later types (115+ days). 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, pinch out the growing point at the top of the stem when the lower sprouts are 1-2cm (1/2-3/4 in.) in diameter. A full stem of mature sprouts will develop in about 2 weeks. Sprouts are sweeter after moderate freezes.
One of the most cold-hardy of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts will survive freezes that ruin most other winter vegetables. They are the easiest of the brassicas to grow. Their vigorous root systems and lower fertility requirements make sprouts a vegetable you can depend on even in late winter.