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Gardening Tips

A New Use for Old Leaves
Brassicas such as Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage benefit from a nitrogen boost. An excellent way to provide this—and trace minerals as well—is to till or fork some autumn leaves into the bed, the fall before planting. If the leaves have been composted for a year or two, so much the better.

A Swish in Time
The little green worms on your Broccoli are harmless--but not the most appetizing garnish. After picking, soak the heads for 10 minutes in a sink full of heavily salted water, then swish the Broccoli before removing it. The worms, killed by the salt, will fall to the bottom.

Gardening Tips: Brussels Sprouts for Christmas
Most of the Brassica family—such as Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli and Mustard Greens—are famously frost tolerant, but Brussels Sprouts are among the most stalwart. Even when ice and snow cause the big floppy leaves to sag, those little elfin Cabbages clustered about the stem are still firm and sweet. In Maine we count on them as an early winter treat, and it has become a tradition to have buttered Brussels sprouts on our Christmas table. If the weather turns beastly we pick whole stems and keep them in a cold room for a side dish on December 25.

Harvesting Sprouts
If you want your Brussels Sprouts to mature quickly and uniformly, nip off the top at the time the lowest ones on the stem are nearly harvest size. Bear in mind however that this will remove the protective leaves at the top of the stem. These would normally droop down over the sprouts, protecting them from frost. So, if you want a long, late harvest, leave the top alone. You’ll be able to pick the sprouts all during the fall and early winter. We serve them on Christmas Day! If very cold weather threatens, cut the entire stalk, bring indoors and store it in the fridge. It will keep for weeks that way!
Let It Bloom
Nothing goes to seed quite as relentlessly as Broccoli. You are, after all, growing heads of tasty green buds, and a bud is determined to become a flower unless cool weather slows it down. One tries to keep up with the harvesting—to encourage the production of new bud-laden shoots—and to snip off flowering stalks promptly. After a certain point, the edible stalks diminish and soon the plant is a riot of yellow blooms. Tidy gardeners then rip the plants out and compost them. We like to leave some for the bees, who are grateful for this superior nectar source.

Direct-Sow Basics

Lettuce Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”
Row Spacing: 12”-18”
Plant Spacing:12”
Days to Germination: 7-12 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-90°F

Lettuce prefers cool weather. To raise transplants, start seeds 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Transplant out as soon as the soil can be worked. Sow thinly in flats or pots using sterilized starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. Avoid crowding: thin to 2" apart. Amend Lettuce beds with compost, organic fertilizer and/or well-rotted manure. Gradually acclimate seedlings to outdoor temperatures and moderate sunlight, water well at transplanting time, shade seedlings from scorching sun and protect from heavy frosts. Keep soil moist with regular watering and feed with a liquid fertilizer as needed. For “baby” greens, broadcast seed, harvesting leaves when 3" to 4" high with scissors. Make successive sowings every 2 weeks for continuous harvest.

Shade Tolerance

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