The Q&A Archives: Pruning Brussels Sprouts

Question: Everything I've read says to prune off bottom leaves of Brussels sprouts plants, but it doesn't say when. My plants are starting to form tiny sprouts in between the leaves. They are very small -- the new leaves are maybe 1/8". When do I start breaking off the big bottom leaves? I ignorantly planted them in very early spring, not realizing they're a fall crop. They seem to be doing well, though -- the plants are huge! We've had a cool spring, so I'm sure that's helped considerably.

Answer: Usually Brussels sprouts are picked from the bottom of the stem working upward. They can be picked as soon as they are large enough to eat (about 1" in diameter, with tightly curled leaves). As you harvest, remove the leaf associated with the sprout. To harvest, cut the little heads off with a sharp knife.

Harvesting them should encourage the plants to continue producing more sprouts. Continue to harvest regularly to keep the plants in production.

Most often they are planted about four months before the expected harvest, with harvest traditionally being done in the fall. The reason for this is that they taste better when they mature during cool weather and can even withstand frosts and snowy weather.

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