To be honest, in early September I wouldn't normally be worrying much about Brussels Sprouts, which I think of as definitely Winter vegetables, but this year Autumn has come early and Winter doesn't seem too far away. The first week of September normally still seems like Summer, but our night-time temperature on Saturday night was only 2.7C and that's not a Summer temperature!!
Prompted by this reminder of approaching gales, frosts etc, I decided to check how my Brussels Sprouts are doing. They are normally covered by anti-butterfly netting, so it is not easy to get a close view without removing the net for a while.
As you can see, the biggest of the plants ("Napoleon") is now as tall as the cage. However, in terms of the actual sprouts, the smallest of the four plants is the furthest advanced. This one is "Brilliant":
The others are in various stages of development. This one is "Bosworth". It's sprouts are still very tiny.
My maintenance included three separate tasks.
The first was to check that the plants were firmly attached to their supporting stakes. With the prospect of gales not too distant it is important to ensure that big plants like Brussels Sprouts (and Purple Sprouting Broccoli) have firm support. Everything looked OK, but since the plants are still growing taller, I added another few turns of string, a bit higher up this time.
The second task was to check for Whitefly. All you need to do is run your hand over the leaves. If Whitefly are present some of them will fly up and it will be easy to see them. I found a few, so I gave the tops of the plants a brief spray with insecticide. I don't use chemical sprays very much in my garden, but if used wisely sometimes they are the best option. A bit of prompt action may save me lots of heartache later. Last year my sprouts suffered quite a lot from Whitefly, aphids and the consequent sooty mould that grows on their secretions, so I want to avoid that this year.
The third task was to give the plants a dose of liquid feed, administered in a good long drink. This will boost them up and help them to deliver a good crop of healthy sprouts in a month or two's time. A big plant like a Brussels Sprout needs plenty of water.
As you can see, the plants are looking healthy and largely pest-free - not a single caterpillar hole! - so I'm happy for now. On with the net again...