Bitty Broccoli

broccoli
Top: Greensgrow
Below: PODgrown

Maybe it’s time to admit defeat.

Earlier this month we received our first winter CSA share from the good people at Greensgrow. It was gorgeous. And the ensuing lemon chicken with broccoli was delicious.

Speaking of broccoli, the broccoli was especially envy-making…given that POD’s broccoli is in a pretty pathetic state.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of fateful kale…

Waaay back in August, a shopping spree at that very same urban CSA mecca resulted in a deck full of cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Oh, my.

But what the CSA gods provideth, the nursery demons taketh away: just days later the starts proved themselves to be crawling in loopers. Squish, squish. Problem solved.

BUT then, a couple weeks after that, a particularly nasty-looking aphid took over. All new for 2012, people: Cabbage aphids! Which, apparently, tend to be more problematic in fall crops. Good to know. These nefarious boogers were regularly sprayed with heavy doses of a Dr. Bronner’s soapy water solution  but to no avail. Deck decimation.

(SIDE RANT: So, not only did this organic “magic all-one” soap fail to kill off the aphids, but the funky-smelling unscented variety stings toddler eyes, and when the screaming toddler flails the offending suds into a nearby adult’s eyes, it stings theirs, too. Like a lot. And it leave a nasty residue on one’s skin and a milky scum on brand-new jet black vehicles. Both the human and vehicular test subjects required two non-Bronner’s scrubbings to remove all traces of ickiness. Which clearly, POD has time for.)

Defeat admitted.

Cauliflower, Broccoli and Kale, Oh My!

Fancy hunts loopers

This year’s summer garden was a little, oh, neglected. But even with a couple week-long (plus) absences during 100 degree (plus) heatwaves, the tomatoes fared well enough and the cucumbers continue to limp along. Which, really, is all we need.

But now that the lonely melon has fallen, all the pots left barren after the summer’s neglect are hopping with cheddar cauliflower, Russian kale, Bright Lights chard, Pacman broccoli, and Jade Cross, a relatively fast-maturing (80-90 days, according to the tag) Brussels sprout variety. In the past, POD’s fall garden efforts have been pretty spotty (kale and parsnips, success, everything else? Not so much.) But in the past, POD planted weeks later (and, to be honest, may still be a few weeks too late) and attempted to start things from seed.

As starting from seed just isn’t happening right now, $21-worth of starts from Greensgrow are taking root. Buyer beware: cabbage loopers love these brassicas and the starts at Greensgrow were a’crawlin’! Look for starts without nibble holes in the leaves and then very, very carefully look at the undersides of the leaves for teeny, tiny, itty-bitty young loopers. If you find any, squish them. Do this daily.

Field Work

So, the Hurricane’s been reading all about caterpillars these days — both very hungry ones and ten little ones. Surely this gardener is scarring her daughter for life, but about half the time (which is to say, at least six times a day) the Very Hungry Caterpillar meets a squishing death and five of the Ten Little Caterpillars  never manage to turn into a beautiful butterflies (drowning, asphyxiation, bird snack, chicken chow, and fish food, respectively.)

Got a problem with that?

Those of us here at Plants on Deck feel it’s important to apply all that theory into real-world experience. And so, to that end, a certain hurricane put an end to the loopers devouring the last of POD’s chard.