Edible Landscaping

October Q & A

Question: The Brussels sprouts in my Missouri garden have grown tall and lush this year, but the sprouts are slow to form on the stalk. I'm afraid I won't get any sprouts before frost. What should I do?

Answer: Brussels sprouts do take a long time to grow and produce round sprouts along the stalk. Their maturity may be even slower if you use too much nitrogen fertilizer in the chemical or organic forms. That would encourage lots of leaf growth, but fewer and small sprouts.

The first step is to stop any fertilizing if you are still doing so. Then top the plant. By removing the top 6 inches of the Brussels sprout, the plant will send energy into maturing and filling out the sprouts along the stalk and not into growing taller. The bottom sprouts will be the first to mature and others will size up going up the stalk. Before you remove the sprouts, take off the leaves next to them for easier harvesting. Luckily, Brussels sprouts can take a frost and still will produce, so you still have time to get some tasty sprouts to eat.

Question: I want to bring my parsley plant indoors for winter to enjoy. How feasible is this in my New Hampshire garden?

Answer: Although most herbs don't grow well indoors after being dug up from the garden outdoors, parsley is one herb that's worth bringing inside. Parsley is a biennial herb and will eventually send up a flower stalk next spring. However, by digging, potting, and moving it indoors this fall, you'll be able to enjoy the remaining leaves for months. With a sharp spade, dig up the plant, trying to get as much of the taproot as possible, and place it in a pot filled with moistened potting soil. Keep it well watered and leave the plant and pot outdoors in a partly shaded location until it recovers from the transplanting. Check the plant for insects, such as aphids, and spray with an insecticidal soap while it's still outdoors. A week or so later, move it indoors into a sunny window. Once indoors, cut back on watering and harvest the leaves as needed. Eventually the plant will get exhausted and be ready for the compost pile, but you should get a few months of fresh parsley out of it before then.

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