A Winter Garden Delight: Growing Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower
The humble Brussel Sprout and the Cauliflower; it’s time to add these two cold and frost-tolerant plants to your veggie patch this autumn.
Although named after the city of Brussels, Belgium, these little sprouts are from the Mediterranean region and are one of the more interesting members of the Cabbage family, Brassica oleracea.
- Plant your seedlings around 50cm apart and 15cm deep in a sunny location in your garden.
- The buds can weigh the stalk down if it is particularly prosperous. You may need to place a stake next to it to keep it upright.
- A touch of frost will make your sprouts taste sweeter.
- You should be able to start harvesting the sprouts from the stalk by late autumn.
- When the buds are about to unfurl, you can cut them off with a clean, sharp knife or pluck them off the stem using a downward motion.
Also a member of the Brassica oleracea, the cauliflower comes in many different sizes and colours and is entirely edible, including the leaves and the stem. The purple variety has an abundance of a natural antioxidant called Anthocyanin, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- Plant your seedlings about 30-40cm apart and 1cm deep in a sunny position.
- Regularly water your cauliflower to ensure that the head is not underdeveloped.
- The head should grow in a tight ball-like shape but will loosen up as it matures.
- Cut the head away from the stem just as it loosens.
- Growing rates do vary. However, smaller varieties can be ready within 4-6 weeks, and larger ones around 2-3 months.
If unharvested, the head of the cauliflower will eventually split and create small flowering stems that will surely be a lovely addition to your winter garden.
As the natural sunlight becomes shorter through Autumn and Winter, Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower do need at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day. They will also benefit from soil that is compost-rich and well-drained. You can also use a liquid plant fertiliser when watering your crops. As these are usually dormant times of the year, your plants may need an extra boost to promote new growth.