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Leafy Planting Days in Early Summer

Last year I planted my brussels sprouts seed in January, in the midsummer leafy planting break, after the solstice.  I transplanted them at the two leaf stage into a nice big pot full of mixed compost and creek sand  and kept them watered with compost tea and seaweed brew, and protected from aphids, cabbage moths, web moths, bower birds, and all the other things that like to eat crucifers in summer.  When they were 20 cm tall, in mid-Autumn I finally planted them out, scattered around the garden, surrounded by dill and coriander,  in a nice well composted spots on the southern side of beds where they could grow tall without shading anything, close enough to the fence to tie them to it to give them a bit of support.

And this is what I got for all that trouble:

brussels sprouts in the subtropics

I really am too far north for brussels sprouts, and climate change is only making it worse.   Every few years, just often enough to keep my hopes up, I jag a combination of variety, timing, and weather that gets me a crop.  But most times there is just not a long enough period of cool weather for them to form sprouts, and I get loose leafy sprouts.  I should give up.  Remind me of this when I complain again next year.

The problem is that I like brussels sprouts, cut in half and lightly fried in olive oil, and they are ridiculously good for you. This time I am trying Long Island variety, planted in November.  This is the earliest I’ve tried it for a long time, and it will be quite a challenge to keep them safe for all the summer and autumn. But the idea is to have the plants already big enough to start forming sprouts by June.

This leafy planting break, I am also planting :

leafy planting in early summer by the lunar planting caledar

This is the season to really test out lettuce varieties.  The cos lettuces are actually doing the best at the moment but I’ve run out of seed of them.  The two-star are a nice lettuce but they are bolting a bit quickly for planting before the solstice, when the lengthening days are just asking for a bolt.  Red oakleaf have done well for me this time of year in the past, and the two self sown ones are from lettuces I deliberately let go to seed because they held on so long.

Some parsley and coriander, both of which will bolt quickly but if I keep successive planting going, I have the makings for tabouli and Vietnamese spring rolls. And Egyptian spinach – a new one for me.  Anyone grown it?

I have a few lettuces and basils (sweet, lemon, lime and Thai) as advanced seedlings ready to plant out into the garden, but mostly today will be cleaning out spent broccoli and brussels sprouts, trying to find space for all the sweet corn, capsicum, eggplants, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, tromboncino, cucumbers, beans, rockmelons, luffas and assorted other fruiting annuals I have ready for the fruiting planting break next weekend.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Lisa November 27, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Goodluck with your seeds. I have planted lettuce in a new garden area in the hope they refrain from bolting. I have got them in the coolest spot in the garden and have netted them to stop the sparrows chomping them to nothingness before they even get going. Every climate has its challenges doesnt it? My cherry tree is a bust this year, the fruit ripened 4 weeks early and coincided with 5 days of unrelenting rain. Most of it has split. There is always next year!

  • Linda November 27, 2011, 8:41 pm

    My brussel sprouts look just the same, but smaller! I’m a little behind you here and they are just starting but are open and fluffy. I would love your vietnamese spring roll recipe. Have you already blogged it? I’ll have a look around your blog to see.

  • Elaine November 28, 2011, 11:41 am

    Brussel Sprouts are really a challenge for we who live in warmer climes. My Dad grew them in Sydney (to die for, home-grown BSs) but not in Ballina. In Queensland apart from the Darling Downs, the only place I know which can grow them and Rhubarb to perfection is Tamborine Mountain. And it’s geographically such a small place that there’s little commercial vege growing left with all the fancy galleries and so on which have sprung up there. What we need is some friend who lives in a cold place to grow them for us and we swap some warm-weather veges – be good, but probably unlikely. It’s a bit like Broad Beans here in coastal SEQld just north of Brisbane … most years I get a few beans and make do with the shoots. But funnily the Asparagus does well and tastes very fine. And we get Raspberries and I’m hoping for Blueberries from my new lot of supposedly warm-adapted plants.

  • Corrin November 28, 2011, 5:20 pm

    Linda, I’d like to share a fab recipe for brussel sprout side dish. Since you like them so much.

    Keep them whole and score brussel sprouts deeply through the base, cover in oil, season, and bake in oven for 45min. They come out delicious. You can drizzle tsp of honey while they’re hot (don’t dare knock it till you try it) and serve them on a bed of hummus .. and if you’re vegan, try it with bit of maple syrup.

  • Linda November 28, 2011, 5:24 pm

    That sounds sooooo good. Even the honey sounds imaginably good.

  • Kirsty@BowerbirdBlue November 28, 2011, 9:29 pm

    Well I’m south by a mountain but have still struggled with brussel sprouts! They just haven’t made those nice tight heads and want to flower – have tried a few times with no success. I’m actually not a big fan of brussell sprouts but wanted to see if they tasted better fresh from the garden. I’m a complete broad bean convert after growing them.

  • Linda November 29, 2011, 11:13 am

    I wasn’t a huge fan till I successfully grew them either. Like lots of vegetables, I think they go more bitter with cold storage. But it’s not you, it’s the brussels sprouts.

  • Bellingen Seedsavers December 2, 2011, 6:08 am

    Yes Linda, Egyptian Spinach grew strongly near Bellingen last season. It grew to a metre in height once the weather really warmed up with lots of bland leaves very useful in a salad. Plenty of seed was set but this season it is really struggling to get past the seedling stage. Perhaps the weather is still too cool. I planted some seedlings out early and they failed so I think best if I plant out 20cm plants in warm weather with some shade protection. I don’t find this vege weedy here although I thought it might be because of the amount of seed. Very useful.

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