Before you begin square-foot gardening Brussels sprouts, you need to know it’s ‘Brussels sprouts. No, they’re not everyone’s favorite garden vegetable.
To grow Brussels sprouts successfully in your raised garden or container, here are the basic requirements the plant needs to produce a bounty.
Besides, have you noticed the inflated price of Brussels sprouts in United States supermarkets?
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Square-foot gardening is a popular term for planting vegetables in a square-foot grid. This method makes great use of companion planting and optimizes space and growing results.
This method easily adapts to garden beds, raised container beds, planters, and other growing containers.
The engineer who developed this efficient method had a keen eye for making the most of space. He even wrote a book about it. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew is available online.
Many people realized the importance of square-foot gardening. The method and the book became a million-dollar hit.
The basic principles behind square-foot gardening are simple. It’s about growing more vegetables in small spaces and making them accessible to people.
It provides access to affordable, healthy food for many.
Here we’ll examine why square-foot gardening is a great way to harvest Brussels sprouts.
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Brussels sprouts have become a designer vegetable served at the most expensive five-star restaurants. Despite that, it’s still a hate’em or love’em veggie.
One of the downsides to growing Brussels sprouts in your square-foot garden bed is that many critters like these tasty miniature cabbages too. We’re not talking about Gordon Ramsey, either.
Insects that nibble on Brussels sprouts:
- Flea beetles
- Leaf miners
- Root-knot nematodes
- Cabbage loppers & whites
- Diamondback moths
Diseases that affect Brussels sprouts:
- Verticillium wilt
- Alternina leaf spot
- Bacterial leaf spot
- Downey mildew
- Black rot
- Ring spot
- White rust
As consumers, we seldom see the plant. Supermarkets sell us the sprouts that grow in a cluster pattern on the stalk.
The plant’s large leaves protect some of the sprouts as insects chew their way along the top.
Brussels sprouts grow on an unusual-looking stem with large umbrella leaves. The large leaves cover the sprouts below.
The plant is vulnerable, and Brussels sprouts aren’t immune to all insects and diseases. Some diseases prevent the sprouts from forming, or it develops malformed heads.
Here are some tips to protect your crop.
Brussels sprouts aren’t overly fussy about soil. They prefer well-drained soil and are a cool-season crop that grows successfully in Hardiness Zones 3-10 from Montana to Florida.
One of the best organic tips for growing Brussels sprouts in a square-foot formation is using a companion plant guide. See our section below.
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Regardless of whether you’re growing Brussels sprouts in a container environment or straight into a square-foot garden patch configuration, you need decent soil conditions.
Soil conditions for raised beds, inground patches, and containers are the same. The best soil comprises peat moss, organic matter (compost), and vermiculite.
Mix them in an equal parts configuration and blend them well. Tamp the soil lightly to provide stability to growing plants. Brussels sprouts might need stakes as they become top-heavy.
Including Brussels sprouts in your square-foot garden takes some thought and planning. While Brussels sprouts grow vertically, they still require room to grow horizontally.
Brussels sprouts needs:
- Ample space
- Adequate soil
- Six hours of sunlight
- Prefer cooler conditions
- Moderate water
- Occasional fertilizer
- Pesticides (organic or chemical if necessary)
Plant your Brussels sprout seeds or seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart. This means that in a square-foot garden, you’ll plant one in the middle of your square.
Because Brussels sprouts become lofty plants, consider what you’re planting next to them. Planning will make maintenance and harvesting easier. Also, don’t crowd the plants.
Although growing Brussels sprouts in 5-gallon buckets aren’t part of the square-foot garden, it’s a great way to add the plant to your garden. It’s one plant per bucket.
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Regardless of which planting medium you choose, planning is crucial. Using the old string method is a great way to stake out your plot.
Square-foot gardens optimize your yield. They’re typically more accessible and take advantage of natural resources you’ll find in a typical backyard throughout the USA.
Features found in backyards:
- Natural shelter from the wind (fencing)
- Nearby water source
- Defined areas from existing beds
- Contained area
This method works for raised container beds and ground-level plots. All you need is some twine, thin rope, or baling wire. A measuring tape and tacks or nails to create a square-foot grid.
If you’re planting up close to a fence line, consider what plants like to climb, which plants prefer a bit of shade, and which are heat tolerant. Those are essential planting factors.
If you are at the building stage of a raised square-foot garden container, make the size divisible by square feet. That is, after all, the purpose of this gardening method. It will maximize space.
Here’s how to measure the space using a wooden frame as a base:
- Measure 12” and attach your first nail or tack
- Keep measuring 12” until the end of the frame
- Repeat measuring on the opposite side and plant a nail or tack
- Now divide the width of the wooden frame into 12” measurements
- Fasten your cord or rope to the first nail and pull it across creating a straight and tight line
- Continue until all nails have a straight line
- Now work the same pattern width wise
This is what a 6-foot x 3-foot bed will look like.
Be aware that if you build or string your quadrants on a bed that is too wide or long, it will be difficult to reach all those areas. Sometimes smaller is better.
If you’re building a raised garden square-foot bed, be wary of making it too broad. Do a test run and see how far you or the gardener in your family can reach.
You’ll also have to work around tall plants as they grow and obstruct your reach. With this layout, you can plant 18 Brussels sprout seedlings. Freeze your harvest this way.
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Since Brussels sprouts are part of the Cruciferae family, they get along well with cabbages, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and other cole crops.
It’s okay to plant them within the family circle, but it also makes them more susceptible. A pest that infests your kale or cauliflower can spread to your Brussels sprouts.
For that reason, consider these companion plants suitable square-foot companions for Brussels sprouts.
Good vegetable companions:
- Bush bean
- Onion, garlic, shallots
- Potato (may attract pests)
- Tomato (absorbs many nutrients)
Good herb companions:
Good flower companions:
Avoid planting these nearby:
- Pole beans
- Mustard greens
Companion plants that are low-growing make great bed partners. They provide ground cover to prevent drought and stabilize soils by adding nutrients. Flowers also make great row markers.
Many companion plants are low-growing. Radish is harvested early in spring, while Brussels sprouts require 80 to 100 days to harvest. A frost improves the flavor and increases sweetness.
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Companion planting isn’t a new trend. It’s been used in farming for thousands of years. But companion planting isn’t just about planting another vegetable, flower, or herb.
Companion planting involves inviting beneficial insects to your garden. Some insects are pests; others help repel invasive insects. It helps to know what plants attract them to your garden.
Another benefit to companion planting is creating diversity in your garden. This method also helps deter invasive bugs and helps your plants thrive so you can enjoy a better yield.
Sadly these methods have a downfall. They require experimentation and patience. Some plants help one kind of plant but inhibit the growth of others. It’s a learned balancing act.
I dare say it aloud. Wasps are beneficial. They help control invasive insects and have many agricultural applications. Here are more beneficial bugs and their diet plan.
- Ladybug larvae feed on aphids
- Parasitoid wasps feast on aphids, caterpillars, and grubs
- Lacewing larvae feed on aphids
- Hoverflies and robber flies eat many pest insects
- Garden spiders eat grasshoppers and caterpillars
A great way to attract these wonderful insects to your garden is by adding flowers to your vegetable plot. These flowering plants also invite pollinators to your garden.
Many flowers are beneficial to a vegetable garden. Flowers like geranium, marigold, and nasturtiums are excellent additions to your garden and help contribute to the soil.
The spicy and peppery scent of these flowers repels certain insects yet attracts beneficial insects.
Pest defender flowers:
Planting companion vegetables, herbs, and flowers take patience, experimenting, and planning. Pairing plant buddies is critical as pesticides destroy our soil and groundwater.
Check Out: Square Foot Gardening Kale
Identifying Insect Pests Attacking Your Brussels Sprouts
You don’t have to be an entomologist to identify common pests in your garden. Sometimes the symptoms will identify the insect even if you don’t see the bug itself.
The area where you live might also impact the nature of your garden pests.
Aphids on your Brussels sprouts will discolor and deform the leaves and the sprouts. You’ll also notice sooty, black mold. Aphids also build nests in rolled leaves and look like ash dust.
To ward off aphids, spray them with insecticidal soap. You can also make a spray mixture of two percent dish soap and water. Spray generously every two to three days for two weeks.
Some gardeners swear orange, and banana peels repel aphids. Attract beneficial insects. You can buy ladybugs for your garden.
Look for ragged tears on leaves (larvae), and stunted heads with holes and excrement. To combat cabbage loppers, pick them off by hand. Spray the larvae with insecticidal soap.
Row covers help prevent infestation. Keep your soil bed free of plant debris.
Cabbage worms wreak havoc on your Brussels sprouts. They leave gaping skeleton holes on the leaves and bore into the sprouts. Look for excrement and eggs hanging on the underside.
Handpicking works well if you can find them. Preventative row covers and companion plants deter invasion.
Flea beetles leave minuscule shotholes in the leaves. Most often, they don’t harm the sprouts. Row covers, mulch, and native plants are a great solution.
Armyworms feed in groups. They damage the leaves, stems, and roots. Larvae are the offspring of gray moths that leave hundreds of eggs on the leaves and stems.
Their feeding holes are irregular.
These larvae of Liriomyza genus flies chew tunnels through leaves. They leave a trail of white markings on the leaves. They don’t harm the Brussels sprout and look unappealing.
Regardless of whether you garden in Montana or Florida, you’ll have to contend with diseases that affect your plants.
Knowing what to look for is crucial to attacking the problem. Ignoring the problem seldom works.
Small round black or gray spots form lesions and spread into concentric rings. It’s a fungus that is problematic during cool, wet seasons.
Prevent this by seeding only pathogen-free seeds and rotating your crops. Use the appropriate fungicide treatment.
Black rot affects seedlings. The leaves will wilt and turn yellow or brown and fold. V-shaped lesions and dark rings are signs of this bacterial infection. It thrives in wet but warm conditions.
Using quality pathogen-free seeds and crop rotation are vital methods. Also, avoid sprinkler watering systems.
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Look for a downy growth on the underside of the leaf. It can be white, purple, or grayish, and leaves will be distorted or defoliated.
Good circulation and clean flower beds help disease-resistant seeds to thrive. Do not water plants overhead.
Don’t allow all this information to overwhelm you as you plant your square-foot garden with Brussels sprouts. It can be a fun activity for the entire family.
Growing stalks of healthy Brussels sprouts is rewarding and not nearly as much work as you think. Planning and following basic planting principles will go a long way toward success.
Moreover, you may like some more Gardening articles:
- Square Foot Gardening Sweet Potatoes
- Square Foot Gardening Parsley [How & Where to Grow]
- Square Foot Gardening Garlic [Methods To Grow]
- Okra square foot gardening
- Square Foot Gardening Peas [Techniques to Grow]
- Square Foot Gardening Broccoli: the best way to grow
- Square Foot Gardening Tomatoes (7 Ultimate Tips)
- Square Foot Gardening Pole Beans (Well Researched Tips)
- Square Foot Gardening Strawberries (Unbelievable Ways)
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.