Brussels sprouts contain phytonutrients that assist a range of functions. Contain sulfur compounds like sulforaphane, which triggers vital detoxification enzymes in the liver. Also an excellent source of vitamins C, A, folate, fiber and other phytonutrients, all promoting healthy skin, digestion, immune function, cardiovascular function, fetal development and overall health.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – K, C, B9 (Folate), A, B6 (Pyridoxine), B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin) & E
Minerals – Manganese, Potassium, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Copper
By increasing detoxification and reducing DNA damage, crucifers like Brussels sprouts reduce the symptoms or onset of many cancers more effectively than any other fruit or vegetable. Cancer examples: prostate, colon, bladder, breast and lung. The sulfur-containing phytonutrients slow or stop cell division of cancer cells and programmed cell death.
How to Grow
Brussels sprouts take up extra space, but you can get varieties that last through fall and others that last through winter for a prolonged harvest. Choose site with full sun and well-drained soil. Soil pH needs to be 6.5 to 7; add lime to raise, if needed. Amend soil with highly fertile planting mix. Sow seeds in shallow drills 6 inches apart three to four months before the first expected frost. When they reach a few inches tall, plant them out centered in spaces 2-3 feet square depending on how large you want sprouts to be. Compress the well you plant into. Water initially and wait 1-2 weeks before repeating. Cover spaces between plants with compost, mulch or plastic to reduce weeds and need for watering. Keep watered through summer. In fall, pick off yellow leaves to avoid spreading disease. Harvest Brussels sprouts from the bottom up starting in early fall once they have hardened.
Brussels sprouts are affected by a number of common garden pests, including cabbage butterflies, club, cabbage root maggot, cabbage moth, cabbage loopers and cabbage worms. Handpick and dispose of pests as they appear. Morning and evening are best times to remove. If infestation is uncontrollable manually, use insecticidal soap. Bt works in some instances. Sink shallow cups of beer in soil to induce slugs and snails to climb in and drown. Floating row covers protect against birds. If uncertain what to do, capture some pests and ask your local nursery for advice on best organic treatment.
Best use of space may be to interplant another crop in the spaces between Brussels sprout plants. If you do, use little fertilizer as flooding Brussels sprouts with fertilizer softens them. If site gets windy, staking may be necessary to prevent toppling. Frost is not a problem and can even enhance taste, but if not insulated by snow, even the toughest sprouts will suffer with a hard freeze. You may need a season of trial and error to find the best planting time to get the healthiest yielding plants. Cook by steaming lightly to retain nutrients.