Cabbage & Company

Vegetables in the diverse brassica family are the tasty and nutritious stars of cool-season gardens.

By Beth Botts

Photography by Andrew Norelli


brussels sprouts are great for small gardensBrussels Sprouts
In smaller gardens, Brussels sprouts fit right in: They grow more up than out. The actual sprouts, like tiny cabbages, grow along a tall stalk under leaves that spread like a palm tree’s. Brussels sprouts are said to have developed from a chance mutation of a cabbage plant in Belgium in the 18th century.

Brussels sprouts are slow-growing and hate hot weather, so they are tricky to grow in the South. Even in the North, they are best as a fall crop. Start the seeds indoors early enough to transplant them 90 to 110 days before the first frost.

Sprouts will start forming at the base of the stalk when nights are routinely down to 60°F; harvest them as they mature. Brussels sprouts are the most cold-tolerant of brassicas, so you can leave the plants to keep producing well into fall, sometimes after snowfall. The top is edible too; cook the leaves as you would kale.

Recommended Brussels Sprouts Varieties