Gardening Articles: Care :: Plant Care Techniques
Non-Pest Cole Crop Problems (page 2 of 2)
by National Gardening Association Editors
Brussels Sprout Problems
You can affect the growth of the Brussels sprout plants two ways: by pruning the leaves along the stem and by pinching off the growing tip, called the terminal bud, on top.
For the best results with the pruning method, snap off all the leaves on the bottom 6 inches of stalk when the plant is well established and the buds have just started to develop. The leaves break most easily in the morning when they're crisp from the dew. This encourages more leaves to form higher up on the stalk and makes the plant grow taller. The sprouts are formed just above each leaf, so more leaves mean more sprouts.
Pinching the growing tip directs the plant's energy into making more leaves, less stalk and earlier, larger sprouts. It also causes the sprouts to mature earlier and at the same time, which is more helpful to commercial growers and northern gardeners than to gardeners with a longer growing season. To remove the top, wait until sprouts have formed on 10 or 12 inches of the stem.
Although it's not necessary to prune or pinch back the top of Brussels sprouts, breaking off the leaves does make harvesting easier. You can begin harvesting when the first sprouts are marble-sized.
Broccoli, Chinese cabbage and kohlrabi don't need any special attention other than protection from diseases and insects that often bother the cabbage family.