Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically – Full Guide

Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

Hello gardeners, Are you interested in growing Brussels sprouts hydroponically or without soil? Well, you are in the right palce. Brussels sprouts belonging to the mustard family Brassicaceae and its edible buds known as “sprouts.” Brussels sprouts are a member of the cabbage family and an excellent source of several vitamins. These are small leafy green buds that look like miniature cabbages. They are delicious if cooked properly and are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, and dietary fiber. Brussel sprouts also have high levels of polyphenol plant compounds known as “glucosinolates.” Nutritional science believes that these compounds have a preventative effect on cancer.

Brussels sprouts are easy to grow and take up little space in the garden. They should be started indoors 4 weeks before your last frost date. This crop is a long season crop planted in spring for a fall harvest. Brussels sprouts taste best after they have been subjected to cool weather conditions. Hydroponics has great advantages such as controlling and managing pH level, CO2, heat, air movement, nutrients supply, water needs, temperature, and lighting scheme, help farmers boost production of their crops. Now, let us get into the details of growing Brussels Sprouts hydroponically or without soil.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

Hydroponic Brussels Sprouts
Guide to Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically (Image credit: pixabay)

Different Varieties for Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

‘Bubbles’ F1 (85 to 90 days to maturity) – This variety tolerates heat and drought, and grows about 2-inch sprouts that are resistant to powdery mildew and rust diseases.

‘Jade Cross’ F1 and “Jade Cross E” F1 (90 days) – Both are compact plants that are good for windy locations and good disease-resistance.

‘Long Island Improved’OP (90 days) – This plant variety is another small but high-yield plant that stands up to wind and tolerates freezing.

‘Oliver’ F1 (85 days) – An early producer, the 1-inch sprouts are easy to pick and the compact plant is disease-resistant.

‘Royal Marvel’ F1 (85 days) – It is an early and productive plant that is resistant to bottom rot and tip burn.

‘Rubine’ (85 to 95 days) – These heirloom purple plants are late-maturing and lower-yield than green varieties but this has good flavor.

Advantages of Growing Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

Make better use of space and location – Because all that plants need are provided and maintained in a system, you can grow in a small apartment or the spare bedrooms as long as you have some spaces. Plants’ roots expand and spread out in search of food, and oxygen in the soil. This is not the case in the Hydroponics system, where the roots are sunk in a tank full of oxygenated nutrient solution and directly in contact with vital minerals. Then, this means you can grow your plants much closer, and consequently huge space savings.

Climate control – Hydroponic growers can have total control over the climate conditions like temperature, humidity, light intensification, the composition of the air. You can grow foods all year round and farmers can produce foods at the appropriate time to maximize their business profits.

Hydroponics is water-saving – Plants grown hydroponically can use only 10% of water compared to soil-grown plants. In this process, water is recirculated. Plants will take up the necessary water, while run-off ones will be captured and then return to the system.

Effective use of nutrients – In the Hydroponics system, you have 100% control of the nutrients (foods) that plants need.

pH control of the solution – You can measure and adjust the pH levels of the water mixture much more easily compared to the soils. That ensures the optimal nutrients uptake for growing plants.

Propagation for Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

The Brussel sprout plant is a biennial, meaning it takes 2 years to mature and go to seed. To save seeds from the plant, you’ll have to let it overwinter and flower the following fall. The top of the plants will bloom with yellow color, cross-shaped flowers. As they mature, seeds will form in siliques, the dry and valve-like fruit.

If left alone, the siliques will eventually crack open so the plant seeds can spread. You’ll want to harvest the siliques before this happens or you may be fighting the birds for the seeds. Simply cut off the siliques and slice them open. Then, store the seeds in a dry location and use them within 4 years. The process is simple but takes a while since Brussels sprouts are slow growers.

Cleanly cut off a sprout as close to the stem as possible and place it upright in some clean water so only the base is submerged. Keep the water level high and the sprout will start to grow white, and fibrous roots. Then, you can transplant the cutting into the ground or move it to a permanent hydroponics setup.

Seed Sowing for Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

Brussels sprouts seeds are best sown in a modular seedling tray and then planted out 4 weeks later. Sow one seed per module at 2cm deep in an 84 cell plant tray. Then, they will germinate in 7 to 12 days and be ready to plant out about 4 weeks later. If the plants are on a heat bench or in a propagator and they are looking spindly, turn the heat down and then try to give them as much light as possible. If 2 sprouts have been germinated in any of your modules you want to remove the weaker one. Don’t pull the seedling out as you’ll damage the plant roots of the one you want to keep. Nip the unlucky one with a fingernail or cut with scissors.

Also, it is important to keep your seedlings properly watered before you plant them out in the garden. You are far better to under rather than overwater your plants. You do need to be careful, not to let the compost plug completely dry out and won’t absorb the moisture the next time you water. It will depend on the weather of course but a hot day you will need to water twice a day if it’s dull every 2 days will be fine.

Process of Planting or Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

In case if you miss this: Hydroponic Nutreint Chart for Vegetables.

Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically
Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically (Pic source: pixabay)

Step 1) Brussels sprouts need a long growing season of 80 days or more, and they improve in flavor after being subjected to a light frost. If your climate is dry or the Brussels sprouts are large, run it 5 or 6 times daily, but in humid climates or with smaller plants, three times is enough. Plug the pump into the timer. In colder climates, you can start Brussels sprouts seeds indoors around early May, and then transplant the seedlings to the garden in mid-June, or about 4 months before the first fall frost.

Step 2) Firstly, set the storage tub in a location under a table that is large enough to support a hydroponic plant tray. Select a spot where Brussels sprouts will get at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

Step 3) Screw ebb and flow fittings into the 2 holes in the bottom of the plant tray. The top of the ebb or drain fitting must be at least 2 inches lower than the tray’s sides. So that it can provide emergency drainage if the pump doesn’t stop; the flow of filler fitting will be much lower.

Step 4) Attach the tubing to the bottom of the fittings and the tubing on the ebb fitting needs to hang down into the reservoir.

Step 5) Then, place the plant tray on the shelf above the reservoir. Make sure the ebb and flow system fittings hang over the edge of the shelf so that the tubes aren’t bent or otherwise restricted.

Step 6) Connect the flow fitting to the output on the submersible pump and then set the pump in the center of the reservoir. After that, check that the ebb or drain hose is hanging down inside the reservoir.

Step 7) Fill the plant tray by using silica gravel or clay pellets. Don’t substitute a lighter-weight medium like perlite, since Brussels sprouts are likely to fall over if you do. As the solution evaporates, and add plain water to maintain this level. Once a week discard the old solution and then replace it with a fresh nutrient solution. Note the time it takes for the plant tray to fill to within an inch of the top of the stones. Set the timer to run this long 3 to 6 times per day.

Step 8) Plant your Brussels sprouts in the tray, burying the roots well in the silica gravel. Leave about two feet between the plants and turn on the pump to finish the setup.

Materials for Building the Ebb and Flow System for Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

In essence, there are two main parts of the system are the reservoir and the plant tray.

The Reservoir – One essential part of the hydroponic system is the reservoir. This contains water and nutrients that plants need. Normally, 1 reservoir is enough for most of the Ebb and Flow systems. If your structure is big, the reservoir must grow respectively, or you need some extra reservoirs to grow enough nutrients for more plants.

The reservoir is placed directly below the flood tray’s stand and it is connected to the tray via a fill tube and a drain tube. The fill tube attaches to a submersible pump with a timer, and which controls the flow of water up into the flood tray. Then, the drain tube allows gravity to pull the water back into the reservoir after flooding so the water can be reused. You can use the same water for about a week, making sure to renew the nutrients every time you change the water.

Ebb and Flow hydroponic systems can seem daunting to beginners, but they are perfect for the hobbyist with a bit of experience who is looking to “upgrade” their system. This type of hydroponic set up allows for more options than some of the beginner set-ups such as lettuce rafts. If the tray is large enough, you can plant almost anything.

The Plant Tray – The plant tray is also called a flood tray. It is a large container on a tall stand, in which you place your plants. Then, plant your seedlings in half-gallon perforated pots filled with a growing medium such as Perlite. The flood tray is pumped full of nutrient-dense water, which flows up through the bottom of the pots to the plant roots.

Other Materials to Build an Ebb and Flow System;

Submersible Pump – The submersible pump is vital in pumping water up into the grow tray.

Timer – A timer is responsible for controlling the amount of time for the watering. The timer goes on and off to ensure the plants receive suitable nutrient requirements.

Container – A container is essential in hydroponics as it where the plant grows. It can be one big container or several small ones in a system.

Tubing – The function of the tube is to connect the reservoir to the system to convey water in and out of the system.

Overflow Tube – The function of the overflow tube is to set the level of height that the nutrient solution in the container reaches. Also, the channel works to ensure that the nutrient solution does not spill out of the reservoir.

Growing Media – Because of the way the system works, the growing media for the Ebb and Flow must be strong and heavy not to be floated. Some important growing materials are gravel, hydroton, perlite, stone wool.

One of the advantages of the ebb and flow type of system is that the materials are cheap. You can use simple tools like buckets, tubes, bottle water, trashcans, and storage totes.

System for Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

Hydroponic vegetables are easy to grow and you can raise them even if you have limited space. For something the size of Brussels sprouts, use the ebb and flow hydroponic system with a heavy growth medium to support the plants. You can buy such a hydroponic system, but if you are just the tiniest bit handy, you can build one for very little money. Set it on your patio or deck and get ready to start harvesting your Brussels sprouts.

Ebb and Flow System for Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

This hydroponics system is composed of a growing tray and a reservoir filled with a nutrient solution. Periodically, a pump in this system submerged in the nutrient liquid floods the grow tray and then drains it again. Then, this allows the plants to receive regular infusions of nutrients without the need for special oxygenation. Because the plants don’t stay submerged, they should be grown in a medium such as gravel or rock wool. These plants that need a lot of moisture can be grown in coconut fiber or vermiculite.

Ebb and flow hydroponic systems can be set up in different ways but all work under the same concept. The grow tray of an ebb and flow hydroponics is slowly flooded with nutrient solution. The water pump is set up on a timer to flood the grow bed and specific intervals.

The Ebb and flow system is also known as Flood and Drain, is one of the most widely recognized hydroponics systems out there. It is an intermediate level in difficulty, and relatively low-cost to set up.

This system allows you to easily alter your garden, adding or removing plants as you wish without affecting any of the surrounding crops. The basic concept is very simple plants are placed in a tray, which is filled with nutrient-rich water pumped out of a reservoir below. This uses gravity to return the water to the reservoir to be reused. This system seems complex to beginners because it involves many different components, but they all come together quite easily and can be assembled in very little time. Once assembled, this system needs little maintenance and produces plants efficiently with little electricity or water use.

Problems in Growing Brussels Sprouts Hydroponically

There are many common mistakes beginners make with hydroponics. This is why it is important to know what cannot be grown hydroponically.

The mistakes that beginners might experience with their hydroponic systems include the following;

Ignoring pH – To ensure whatever you plant hydroponically is successful, you’ll need to monitor the pH level. One of the essential parts of any hydroponic is the pH level of the water. Your plants are particularly susceptible to changing levels, so certain vegetables have differing pH needs. If the pH level isn’t balanced, it could mean the nutrient solution is either too acidic or too alkaline, causing nutrient deficiencies. If the pH level is off for a specific species, the plants could simply die, so you need to monitor them regularly. With the help of a pH meter, you can check the levels daily to determine if you want to balance the solution. Considering all of the plants in the garden will survive off the same nutrient solution, testing this regularly is imperative. In time, as you gain more experience, you will set up a hydroponics feeding schedule.

Lacking lighting – If the hydroponic garden is indoors, the plants will need access to the sun. You will want to ensure you invest in grow lights to allow the garden to flourish. It’s essential to ensure you’re spending money on high-quality the best hydroponics equipment like bulbs. Otherwise, lighting kits won’t perform properly, preventing your plants from thriving. You must spend some time looking into the specific type of LED grow lights that work best for crops based on their energy.

Forgetting to sanitize – Once you finish setting up the hydroponic system, it can be easy to assume it’s self-sustaining and requires little maintenance. Unfortunately, the hydroponics system differs significantly from traditional soil farming in this aspect. You will want to spend a substantial amount of time disinfecting your garden to prevent diseases and pests. For example, you will want to disinfect the reservoir before switching the nutrient-rich solution.

When and How to Harvest Brussels Sprouts in Hydroponics

Frost improves the vegetable flavor, so wait until after the first fall frost to harvest Brussel sprouts. As it prepares for the winter season, the bottom leaves will turn yellow and the plant will go to seed if it’s in its second year of life. The sprouts will mature from the bottom up and must be about an inch long, depending on the variety. If left on the stem too long, they can crack and develop a bitter taste.

Harvesting Brussels sprouts is a simple process. You can pick the Brussels sprouts one by one by snapping them off the stem with a twisting motion. Or, you can cut off the stem at the base and keep the sprouts attached until you are ready to use them. Also, you may want to harvest the leaves, which are an excellent substitute for cabbage. That’s all folks about growing Brussels Sprouts hydroponically.

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