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.

September Progress

September rebootThe Little Hurricane has recently been redubbed Typhoid C.  You see, yesterday marked the one-month anniversary of our shared illnesses. That’s 30-odd days of hacking coughs, multi-colored mucus, razor-studded throats, viscous vomit, and booger crusts. Not to mention shared a  fever of 103. Yeah, yeah: hot-blooded. Got it. Still no fun.

What does a toddler’s discharge have to do with the health and well-being of the little blue deck? Everything, it seems. It’s like the deck doesn’t exist, let alone the computer upon which the deck is rendered public. All that matters is saline solution, honey, vomit dodging, and sleeping. This morning, though, despite a shocking lack of sleep and an abundance of the aforementioned symptoms, the deck’s disarray was too much for this sniffling gardener to handle. So while little Ms. Typhoid and her similarly afflicted father departed for the store and the playground, the deck got some half-assed love.

The final tomatoes were plucked and sad, tired plants were bagged. A smattering of cucumber beetles got smushed, just for the heck of it, and the C. Borealis (AKA french orange hybrid melon) upon which they were feasting gave up its last fruit.

September rebootWhat containers remain have been haphazardly scatter-seeded with lettuce, winter cress (AKA creasy creens courtesy of Bartram’s Garden), radishes, kale, and kohlrabi (courtesy of Startin Yer Garten).

August “Progress”, AKA: Reboot

August Plants on DeckSo last weekend, in a fit of frustration, a bunch of plants on deck were yanked and became seeds on deck. The Boothby Blonde cucumber, Black Cherry and Isis Candy tomatoes, and all the beans were ditched (more on that later).

In their place cooler weather crops have been oh-so-optimistically planted. August Plants on DeckPlants on Deck 2.0 features fresh lettuce, Franklin Hybrid Brussels Sprouts (technically the wrong planting season, but they almost worked last year), Javelin Hybrid parsnips, Erbette and Charlotte chard, Romanesco, French Breakfast and Long Scarlet radishes (which have already poked their heads above ground), and Winterbor kale.

Champ is still blooming and Mr. Stripey is showing signs of disease but he’s still largely green, so he gets a pass for now. Aphids continue their iron-fisted reign (and four adult brown marmorated stink bugs were killed yesterday) so next up on the hit list are the besieged True Lemon and the newly-breached Charentais.

Eight Weeks and Growing

Brussels Sprouting
Brussels Sprouting

The Brussels sprout experiment continues. These guys are exactly two months old and appear to be thriving. Whether or not they’ll get around to producing, only time will tell.

Generally Zone 7 gardeners plant sprouts in March for an August harvest, but the flavor benefits from cooler temps and honestly, during the summer months, container space is just too precious to hand over to a single 3-4″ stalk of sprouting heads.

The seedlings exposed to the most unobstructed sun (like this one here) are certainly doing the best. The seedling tucked among the flourishing parsnips is about half this guy’s size.

Worms!

Okay, so, POD was recently inspired by a Graceful Gardens-designed kitchen garden. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s already October; but this fledgling garden was stuffed with beautiful herbs and greens — making me realize that those empty five-gallon buckets, sitting all forlorn-looking at the corner of the deck, were really such a waste.

So, off to the South Philly Lowes POD goes. I know, shame on me.

Two kale sets have now joined the thriving chard, parsnips, lettuce and the trooper poblano.

Of course, six, count ’em six, little squishy worms had to be picked off the undersides of the holey, half-devoured leaves before they could be popped into the waiting buckets.

Serves me right. Be forewarned.

Persnickety Parsnips

POD’s figuring things out as we grow along, but parsnips, like any other veggie, seem to be a little fussy. But, so far, so good — every one of the javelins has germinated and they’re sprouting right along.

  • Rich, deep, well-fertilized soil
  • Go light on the nitrogen, though — evidently they don’t like it
  • Full flavor develops when the roots have been exposed to near-freezing temperatures
  • POD’s hopes for a Thanksgiving crop may not pan out — perhaps more like a February harvest, just when they’ll be most needed
  • Full sun/partial shade okay

Fall Fell

lettuce seedsWell, dear friends, Fall has touched down in South Philly. Which is not to say we won’t be slammed with a few more 90 degree days; but generally, temps are hovering in the 70s during the day and low 60s at night. The biggest challenge, though, is the rapidly dwindling sun exposure. POD enjoys at least six to eight hours of sun throughout most of the summer but by September, it receives only a few hours of morning sun.

What does this mean for POD’s zone 7 garden? Major work on deck.

As you can see from yesterday’s post, there’s been some reorganization.  First, all containers have been crammed together to maximize sun exposure. Both the Gold Nugget and Isis Candy cherry tomatoes bit the dust, as did the spacemaster and lemon cucumbers (tune in for more info on Friday).  Filling their shoes are several more parsnip seeds, French radishes, lettuce, Swiss chard, and carrots.

Parsnips and Radishes of the Future
Parsnips and Radishes of the Future

The Brussels sprout seedlings have also made their way, full-time, onto the deck. Honestly, they’ve been looking a little peaked lately. Here’s hoping they pull through.