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.

2009: A Review

Apologies for an incredible dull post. When making plans for next year, however, it’s important to remember what worked and what didn’t. So, here it is, all in one tidy package.

Herbs: This year’s parsley, mint, tarragon, bay, and thyme were winners. Next year, grow basil from seed. The lavender never blossomed and thus, failed miserably. Next year, plant oregano and cilantro! The mint was a fine companion to the Gold Nugget tomato, but given diseases that befell the tomato, it should be planted with the rest of the herbs next year.

Lettuce: The four-year-old hand-me-down seeds produced well. They did not do well as companion plants to cucumbers and tomatoes. Could have used more — use the carrot container for additional lettuce. Still, it may be time to spring for new seeds

Carrots: After two years of parmex, it’s time to try something new. Plant as companions to tomatoes.

Radishes: Worked very well. Need to buy new seeds.

Peppers: Poblano Segundo produced well but needs careful fertilization and calcium to prevent yellowing leaves and blossom end rot. Save seeds and plant again next year. The Thai chili and random ornamental hot pepper both  produced incredibly well.

Cucumbers: Lemon cucumbers produced very well. Try the iznik again — only produced one cucumber, but dozens were on the vine before mildew throttled them. This was POD’s second attempt at growing Spacemasters — whose small, compact vines seem perfect for a roofdeck garden, but what’s the point if they only produce two little cukes?

Muskmelons: Refer to More Than a Handful

Rainbow Swiss Chard: Grew very, very well as a companion to the cucumbers and melon. Buy seeds and plant again! Perhaps try as a companion plant to tomatoes as well.

Snap Beans: Need more! Refer to Food for Thought.

Eggplant: Consider omitting. Three plants produced only enough for two meals. Preferred the Udmalbet over the Bambino.

Tomatoes: Oh, tomato. While the cherry tomato experiment worked fairly well, it’s worth experimenting with a couple new varieties. Four plants. New: black cherry tomato and Kellogg’s breakfast (full size). Old: Tumbling Tom, Gold Nugget, or Isis Candy. Prefer the Isis Candy, but the Gold Nugget produced more heavily and the Tumbling Tom fits in a 1.5 gal container and seems poised for a second crop.

Parsnips and Brussels sprouts: Verdict to be rendered at a later date.

Sowing New Seeds

Usually, POD feels a twinge of sadness this time of year. Okay, more than a twinge. Yes, the deck is prospering and yes, the farmers’ markets are flowing, and yes, the kitchen is humming with fresh produce, but the end is near. And it hurts.

What makes POD happy? Seeds. So this year, instead of resigning myself to the end of an era, POD’s expanding. Who knows how it’ll turn out, but it seems worth a shot. Unlike the rest of the produce on the 2009 little blue deck, this is new uncharted territory.

Thanks to the now-dead Django restaurant, a Philly favorite until the chef/owners relocated to the ‘burbs and left a pale imitation in their wake, POD and her lovely husband discovered that Brussels sprouts don’t totally suck. Add some butter and bacon and you’re good to go.

These seeds (selected because they’re Franklin Hybrids — and POD is a Philly garden, after all) from Territorial Seed Company, are enjoying some rich, firmly packed organic soil and plenty of indoor sunlight and stable temps. They should germinate in a couple of weeks or so. Check back for progress reports. These sprouts are also apparently quick to mature — a big considerations this time of year.

There’s even enough to share with a certain Philadelphia City Paper Editor.

Here’s hoping for a mild winter and a bonus crop.

brussels sprout seeds
brussels sprout seeds