2013 Brassicas (end of season notes)

Cold spring weather a problem for all early crop. Late crop started in garden and transplanted.
Broccoli: sprouting type was a bust, possibly weather stress. Late crop did better in potato bed
 – try heat tolerant variety next spring?
Brussels Sprouts: starting seedlings indoors produced more viable plants – plant further apart?
Cabbage: early green & red did well. Late green did well, red did not, savoy took a little too long.
Cauliflower: most early season produced tiny heads, a few heads produced normally & a few others took twice the time, late crop all produced well.
Romanesco Cauliflower: started indoors, plants produced tiny heads (like early broccoli & cauliflower) –give up or grow only late season

Fall Crop Update

The peak of the harvest is past, and yet we tried second plantings of some crops because we had the space, to see what would happen.  With about a month to go, here's their progress.

Cabbage & Cauliflower:  large leaves, producing well, but no sign of heads yet.

Carrots:  leafy fronds are doing well; no sign of poking out of the ground.

Beets:  alive but struggling.

Spinach:  mostly eaten by Something.

Peas:  half-height, base leaves yellowing, no sign of peas.

Lettuce:  looking good!  Might harvest some next week.

Also, here's an update on some first plantings:

Eggplant:  *continues* to produce, though more slowly.

Beans:  the bush beans produced another handful; the pole beans have disappointed.

Potatoes:  we pulled a single plant to obtain some potatoes for display at Town Day.  The number amidst the roots was extensive, and while mostly small-to-tiny, there was at least one big red one.  From just one plant!

Squash:  the tiny zucchini was accidently harvested; there's still a medium yellow squash; and the pattipan has several small fruits (not to mention flowers) which it thinks it has time to make bigger -- we'll see.

The mildew is back to some extent on the squash, and worse, has jumped to the other side of the garden and covered the collard leaves.

The rest of the greens (kale, chard, arugula and other herbs) still doing well.

Cabbage and Cauliflower Update

Three small cabbage remain in the garden.  Some questioned whether they would grow any larger.  It was said that cabbages can be unpredictable as to how big they get.  It was also said that these three wouldn't get any bigger.  But since it was pointed out that having different colored cabbage would be nice for the schoolchildren to observe, we decided to wait-and-see another week.

The cauliflower (and cabbage?) seeds planted two and three weeks ago were unsuccessful.  Last week (in my absence) more were planted, but this time under shade cloth, and they sprouted.

Cauliflower Taste-Off!

We had three cauliflower, one of which was sneakily harvested by the Wednesday gardeners.  That still left us two cauliflower for harvest on Saturday:  one of which had its leaves tied up for blanching, the other left exposed.  While there was a clear visual aesthetic difference, the real question was of taste.  Two of us did (nonblind) comparisons.  We agreed that the blanched cauliflower was slightly sweeter, but that the unblanched cauliflower was still tasty enough.  Alan also pointed out that when cooked, the coloring of the unblanched drains away anyways.
Also, we planted some cauliflower seeds Saturday to have more later in the season.

Coke vs Pepsi
Coke or Pepsi?

Blanching Cauliflower

A couple weeks ago, we decided to experiment on the cauliflower. No, no, we did not pour boiling water on them!  Quoting from the Kansas State University Univesity horticulture report on cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower:  "Blanching consists of pulling some of the larger leaves over the small head when they are 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and securing them with twine or rubber bands.  Failure to blanch will result in discolored heads often wtih a bitter, disagreeable flavor."  Gardeners were mixed about implementing blanching on the cauliflower.  Some felt that tying leaves around the head would suppress head growth, leading to smaller heads.  Others were skeptical about any difference in taste.  So, as an experiment, we tied up two heads, and left the rest untied.

Two weeks later, we have some results.  One of the cauliflower heads tied up is quite white; another whose tie fell off and needed to be retied is mostly white.  By comparison, the head not tied at all is distinctly yellow.  It is also the smallest of the three, but then (unfairly perhaps) the two tied up were larger then as well.  One gardener still scoffed that there would be no taste difference.  We shall see!

Brassica backers

I talked to quite a few parents and children over the two-and-a-half hours I was there today. I gave out veggie school cards, for which I noted quite a bit of interest.

People seemed especially impressed with the broccoli and cauliflower, and I even had some radish backers when I complained of our excess. What do we think of pickled radish?

Or pole beans? We've some extra seeds. I am thinking we could plant a few in a corner and put in a bamboo for it to climb to the sky.

When we pull the radishes, how about if we replace them with turnips? They grow fast and are very good when early.

Cabbage Patch Invaded

The cabbage patch has been invaded ... by tomatoes!  The spaces formerly occupied by the two culled seedlings were filled last Saturday by the tomato committee.  A couple other plants are doing poorly -- while some are doing very well.  What is the difference?  The cabbage family has a shallow root system, and so more vulnerable when transplanting (as ours were), and more sensitive to being underwatered.  The question is whether the early stunted growth can be overcome by warmer weather, rich sunlight, and good watering.

Sickly Seedlings

Last Saturday we pulled two seedlings, one cabbage and one cauilflower, that we felt were too sickly to survive.  We closely examined their roots and the surrounding dirt, looking for the cause, and in particular for cutworms.  The base of the stem of one of the seedlings did look like it had been partially eaten-through, which might be due to a cutworm; although, a real cutworm would have eaten entirely through the stem.  The other seedling had no rootlets -- the fine root hairs branching off the main root -- as if something had eaten them; although cutworms don't attack a seedling that way.  In both cases, we saw no cutworms or any other pest in the soil that could be responsible for the damage.  We were puzzled.

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