With Christmas fast approaching, thoughts can quickly turn to how best prepared you can be this year. If you want to grow and prepare your own vegetables in your backyard or garden, you should not forget the staple ingredient of a traditional Christmas dinner, the humble Brussel sprout.
They are relatively easy to sow and harvest, but it’s key to know when to plant Brussel sprouts for Christmas so you get the best flavour and size in winter.
The best month to plant Brussel sprouts for Christmas is March to April. This may sound early in the year, but you will get very well-established Brussel sprout plants by May, which will then thrive through summer to be harvested at winter and Christmas time.
If you’re reading this and it’s too late, I am sorry. But hopefully you can prepare now to get planting your Brussel sprouts for next Christmas instead.
If you have missed March by a couple of months, don’t worry. It’s still possible for you to buy young Brussel sprout plants which you can then place in a permanent spot in your garden or backyard to grow.
There’s more to it than that though.
I have put together a guide below which explains how you grow Brussel sprouts for Christmas, whether they will survive frost, and some tips to give you an amazing harvest in winter.
What month do you plant Brussel sprouts for Christmas?
I wanted to go into more detail, so you get your Brussel sprouts just right for Christmas, and with a taste to die for.
Based on this, the best month to plant Brussel sprouts so you can harvest them in time for the festive period will be March.
How do you grow Brussel sprouts for Christmas?
In March you will sow the Brussel sprouts seeds indoors in small pots or in a frame. I recommend you sow the seeds 1cm deep and 15cm apart from each other. Keep the soil most, but not waterlogged and saturated.
Handy Hint: You can buy very good Brussel sprout seeds on Amazon. Click here to see the latest prices.
By May time your Brussel sprout plants should have grown to about 15cm high. Keep them into the pots until this point, at which you can then plant them outside in your garden or backyard.
May might sound like an early time to re-plant Brussel sprouts outdoors in time for Christmas, but I find they establish very well in this month. Plus, the longer in the ground, the taller they grow (here’s how tall).
This is the best month to re-plant outdoors because it’s reasonably warm, there is some rain, and no oppressive summer heat when they are in a key growth stage.
By the time summer comes, your Christmas Brussel sprouts will be well-established and hardy enough to deal with heat. The key growth stage in May will also have missed the insects that thrive in summer.
You might find other gardeners recommending that you do this in June and July, but because it’s summer you risk losing them: there are more insects and more heat. The only reason I can think of to plant at this time is if you need to put something else in the space in the March to June period.
How you grow your Brussel sprouts to be ready for winter is as follows:
- Take them from the indoor pots or frame which you sowed in March and re-plant them in a garden or backyard spot which won’t get battered by wind. The plants should be about 70cm apart.
- Use an organic quality mulch around the plants as this will keep them insulated.
- Use stakes to support the plants (view stakes / canes on Amazon).
- If you have dry weather, water them every two weeks. Otherwise, they can be left.
- Birds and caterpillars can be problematic, so protective netting is advised (view on Amazon).
FAQs on growing Brussel sprouts for Christmas
Will Brussel sprouts survive frost?
Brussel sprouts are an extremely hardy vegetable and will survive a frost to around 5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit). If it gets lower than this and dips below freezing in your backyard, you might want to protect them from the frost.
Frost isn’t a bad thing for Christmas Brussel sprouts. If anything, a little frost in a mild winter will add flavour to the sprouts. What frost does is bring out the natural sweetness instead of the more bitter flavours you might get with ones you buy in a store.
Some of the sweetest Brussel sprouts you planted for Christmas will be the ones that you end up harvesting in the snow. If you have a white Christmas, expect a tastier and sweeter crop growing in your garden / backyard.
How to protect Brussel sprouts from frost
Brussel sprouts planted for Christmas will thrive in cold weather, but there is a point at which you might need to protect your Brussel sprouts from frost.
If the temperature goes below freezing, you can cut them at the base of the stalk, take the leaves off, and bring them indoors stored in a cool and dark area. They will be fine like this for a month or so.
Overall, when you plant Brussel sprouts for Christmas, you don’t need to do anything special to care for them in winter… particularly if in the UK where winters tend to be milder.
Can I sow Brussel sprouts in August?
Some say that August is too late to grow Brussel sprouts, and I would tend to agree. The best month to plant and grow sprouts is February to March, and at the very latest towards the end of May if you want them for the Christmas holiday period.
Can I plant Brussel sprouts in September?
Similarly, I don’t advise planting Brussel sprouts in September. If it’s a Christmas harvest you want, you’ve left it far too late and are best off planning for the following year now.
What if I planted my Brussel sprouts too early for a Christmas harvest?
Don’t worry, you can freeze your Brussel sprouts for Christmas. Simply cut the sprouts away from the stalks, wash and check for insects. Freezing them will help to keep that authentic home-grown flavour in.
Brussel sprouts are as much a Christmas dinner tradition as pulling a cracker at the table is. The reason why is not really known, but I can only assume it’s because sprouts thrive and grow to be picked and eaten in the winter months.
It’s probably just down to a case of timing.
And now, you know the right timing too, for when it’s best to sow Brussel sprouts for Christmas.
More backyard guides…
- Do Brussel sprout plants grow back every year?
- The controversy behind the taste of sprouts
- The tallest sprout plant in the world revealed
Image in header of Brussel sprouts by https://unsplash.com/photos/X3inY0dDFZw