Brussel Sprout ‘Red Bull’ is a specialist sprout variety from Europe, it offers smaller yields of dark red sprouts, but has a milder, delicate, nuttier flavour than standard green types.
The red colour is enhanced with the first light frosts and develops great intensity after a hard frost. It is retained when the sprouts are cooked, steamed or microwaved.
Red Brussels sprouts are popular at Christmas and can be found in the supermarkets marketed with names such as 'Brusselberry' sprouts. 'Red Bull' matures over a long period and the sprouts remain in good condition for many weeks. Harvest November through to January from a spring sowing. The resulting sprouts are small and tasty, and look gorgeous in the pan and on the plate.
Colourful vegetables always grow into conversation pieces both in the garden and in the kitchen. 'Red Bull', with its intense colour makes it pretty enough to grow in the winter border, so if you like a mild sprout it would be well worth trying.
The maturity between early and late Brussels sprouts can differ as much as 100 days. To maximise yield, sow in May to transplant mid-June through early July. The earlier sowings will be ready in September-October, with the later sowings harvestable through February-March depending on the year. June sowings and July transplants will still produce sprouts, although the plants will be smaller.
Prepare the site:
All brassica crops grow best in partial-shade, in firm, fertile, free-draining soil. Start digging over your soil in autumn, removing any stones you find and working in plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Tread on the soil to remove any air pockets and make the surface very firm. Brassicas will fail if the soil is too acidic so add lime to the soil if necessary, aiming for a pH of 6.5-7.5.
The plants require a sunny spot that is sheltered from strong winds and need to be planted firmly to stop the plants becoming loose in the ground ideally up to the first set of leaves.
Sowing: Sow March to May. Harvest December to February
Brussels Sprout are sown in spring to harvest in winter, or sown in autumn for harvest in late spring to autumn
Nearly all brassicas should be planted in a seedbed or in modules under glass and then transferred. Sow thinly, as this reduces the amount of future thinning necessary and potential risk from pests. Place seed trays on a sunny window sill or in a cold frame giving protection against frost.
Alternatively sow outdoors between April - May in a seedbed sowing thinly in drills. Cover seeds to 1.25cm (¼ to ½in) deep and transplant the seedlings when they are about 7cm (3in) tall. Do not allow transplants to become stunted before transplanting. Water the day before moving, and keep well-watered until established. Space plants 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) apart in the row, or 60cm (24in) in all directions in beds, treading the plants in well. Water well before transplanting and during dry spells, keep moist until seedlings are established.
Brassicas are affected by a wide range of pests and diseases. Make sure the soil is adequately limed and well drained. Rotate your crops annually to avoid disease. Don't grow brassicas on the same plot more often than one year in three, as moving the crop helps avoid the build up of soil pests and diseases.
Apply one side-dress application of nitrogen fertiliser when the plants are 30cm (12in) tall and water to keep the crop growing vigorously during the heat of summer. Without ample soil moisture, the crop fails. Insect control is also very important to keep the plants growing vigorously. Cultivate shallowly around the plants to prevent root damage.
Plant firmly on light soils and earth up round the stems in autumn as the plants may topple (technically known as lodging) over with autumn winds. As the plants get taller make sure you support them so that the strong winds in winter don`t blow them over. If needed, tie the stalks to stakes.
The sprouts form in the axis of the leaves (the space between the base of the leaf and the stem above it). The old practice of pinching out the growing tip to hasten maturity is often no longer recommended, but you can do so if you wish - about three weeks before harvest, the plants are topped (the growing point removed) to speed the completion of sprout development on the lower-stem area.
Companion plants include other brassicas, beetroot, carrot, onions, rosemary, sage, mint, calendula, marigolds, nasturtium.
Do not plant with strawberries.
As with all widely-spaced winter crops, as you hoe weeds in early to mid-August, consider sowing crimson clover. The cover crop will remain stunted through the winter, but in the spring will produce a beautiful mat which is easy to turn in and break down.
Crimson clover is a good ground cover that will help with weed suppression, it is an excellent nitrogen fixer that is quick and easy to grow. It can take a degree of frost but even if it does die back the winter roots are beneficial.
The small sprouts or buds form heads one to two inches in diameter. They may be picked (or cut) off the stem when they are firm and about one inch in size. The lower sprouts mature first so harvest from the bottom of the stem when the sprouts are firm.
The lowermost leaves, if they have not been removed already, should be removed when the sprouts are harvested. Harvest sprouts before the leaves yellow when the sprouts are small, compact and bright green. Avoid yellowing sprouts with signs of wilt rot or insect damage. Harvest sprouts when they are no larger than 2.5cm to 4cm (1 to 1½in) in diameter.
Brussels sprout should grow slowly to obtain the highest quality. Make sure they are continuously getting a moist soil. Any sprouts that are not nicely closed can be used in stews.
The key to cooking Brussels sprouts is in not overcooking them. The leaves cook faster than the core, so cut an X in the bottom of the stem. Depending on size, cooking time should not exceed 7 to 10 minutes whether you are steaming, braising or boiling. Select sprouts of even size for uniform cooking. Large sprouts should be cut in half.
The best home preservation method for Brussels sprouts is freezing. As with any vegetable, Brussels sprouts will need to be blanched prior to freezing.
In the wild, the Brassica oleracea plant is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, and is somewhat similar in appearance to a leafy canola plant. Without detailed knowledge of plant breeding or genetics, simple selection by the people growing the plant over seven thousand years that had the features that they most desired, led to the development of six dramatically different vegetables. Although they appear very different, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts are all the same species, Brassica oleracea.
The Latin name Brassica derives from the Celtic ‘bresic’. The species oleracea refers to a vegetable garden herb that is used in cooking. The species name Brassica oleracea variety gemmifera translates to 'garden cabbage bearing gems.'
Brussels sprouts, as we know them today, were first grown in 13th-century Flanders (part of modern day Belgium). Selections of cabbage plants which produced a large number of large, tightly packed leafy buds along the main stem were continuously developed and named 'Brussels' after the Belgian capital, where they became a popular crop in the 16th century. Brussels Sprouts only became popular in Britain at the end of the 1800s.
Despite the name, this crop has long been associated with British agriculture – until quite recently the majority of Brassica acreage in the United Kingdom was given to over to Brussels sprouts, even as the varieties commercially grown were largely of Dutch origin. British breeders aver that the precipitous national decline in demand for Brussels sprouts was prompted by Dutch focus on yield at the expense of taste – the bitterness gene got in. Even as European breeders still dominate the global Brussels sprout market, UK breeders claim that their efforts to restore the sweetness of British heirloom genetics (notably in the Bedfordshire series), have restored the crop to its former glory.
Brussels Sprouts 'Red Bull' is an open pollinated variety that hails from a reputable UK breeder and is now bred in Europe.
Also known as 'Red Ball', red sprouts were introduced into supermarkets around 2010, Red Brussels sprouts are often marketed at Christmas with names such as 'Brusselberry' sprouts.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 125 Seeds Seed Form Natural, Open Pollinated. Common Name Aka 'Red Ball' or 'Brusselberry' sprouts. Other Common Names Marketed at Christmas with names such as 'Brusselberry' sprouts Other Language Names D: Spruitkool Family Brassicaceae Genus Brassica Species olearacea var. gemmifera Cultivar Red Bull Hardiness Hardy Biennial Spacing Space plants 60-90cm (24-36in) apart in the row, or 60cm (24in) in all directions. Position Partial-shade. Soil Firm, fertile, free-draining soil. With a pH of 6.5-7.5. Time to Sow Spring to harvest in winter. Autumn for harvest in late spring to autumn Harvest Harvest when they are firm and about one inch in size.