Brussels sprouts

Pruning of Brussels sprouts: When to prune the leaves of Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts, you seem to love them or hate them. If you live in the latter category, you probably haven’t tried to make the best use of them in the garden. These plants with rather odd shapes have miniature cabbages (enlarged side shoots) which are cut off the stem. If this is the first time you are growing your own cabbages, you may be wondering how to cut the Brussels sprouts, or even have to cut the Brussels sprouts? Read on to find out more.

Size of Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts were first cultivated, as you may have guessed, in Brussels, where they are a cool climate crop that grows at temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees F. (15-18 C.). In some areas they can even survive the whole winter if the temperatures are mild enough. They grow like broccoli and cauliflower in well-drained and well-irrigated soil.

One of the most frequent questions concerning this plant is that of the size: is it necessary to prune the Brussels sprouts and, if yes, when and how?

When to trim the leaves of Brussels sprouts?

The shoots start to appear at the end of the plant closest to the ground and grow for several weeks. The Brussels sprouts harvest starts in mid-October and a mild winter can pass if only individual sprouts are harvested instead of the whole plant. The sprouts are ready for harvest when the heads are 1.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 cm) in diameter and are firm and green.

This is also the time to prune the leaves of the Brussels sprouts, as the lower shoots are removed. Simply removing the yellow leaves will allow the plant to spend all its energy producing new shoots as well as leaves.

As for the question «Should the Brussels sprouts be cut,» no, but you will prolong the harvest and production of the plant if you cut the dying leaves. Read on to find out the best way to cut Brussels sprouts.

How to cut Brussels sprouts

Light pruning of Brussels sprouts will promote vigorous growth and further development of the cabbages, which will give you more cabbages to sauté, roast, etc.

Start cutting the Brussels sprouts when you see at least one growing. At this stage, prune the lowest 6 to 8 leaves with hand pruning shears. The cut should be as close as possible to the main vertical stem. Continue to prune 2-3 lower leaves each week during the growing season, making sure to keep several large, healthy upper leaves to feed the plant.

Three weeks before harvest, stop pruning the lower leaves. Cut 1 to 2 cm (2.5 to 5 cm) off the upper vertical stem with pruning shears – directly across the stem, just above a leaf. This is the best way to prune Brussels sprouts if you want to ripen the plant in one go. Commercial growers practice this method of pruning in order to get their products to market.

Of course, it is not at all necessary to prune or prune the plant, but it allows a longer harvest with stronger buds. You can always remove the sprouts when they are big enough by turning them gently until they fall off the plant.

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