All right you Brussels Sprout growers, it’s that time to manipulate those plants! If you want your Brussels to come in full by the end of the season, you’d do well to heed this advice.
Right about a month to our first frost, we top of Brussels Sprouts. We also trim the leaves from the bottom up, typically removing the lower 2/3 of the leaves and branches. Typically, we leave about 6 to 10 leaves remaining, it doesn’t need to be super exact. We call it “poodle dogging” our plants, no offense intended to any poodles.
Just like with the tomato trimming technique we talked about a few days ago, this helps to force maturity of your plant by the end of the season. Most Brussels take a very long time to get to maturity, 180 days or more, even the ones that “say” they’re shorter season. This trimming technique ensures you’ll get nice, plump Brussies by the end of the season across most varieties out there.
This allows for a lot more sunlight to hit the small cabbages, aiding them in faster maturity. Topping the plant also forces the plant to focus on maturing the sprouts as opposed to growing leaves and getting bigger. Unlike tomatoes, though, the sprout won’t push out new growth and will rather just focus of producing the desired sprouts.
You will start to see the results in about a week’s time, with the sprouts ever increasing in size. You can harvest Brussels Sprouts well after our first frost as they’re quite cold hardy and can handle some freezing. We typically aim for about 1 to 3 weeks after first frost, allowing us to eek every bit of the growing days from our season.