Answers on Brussels sprouts, onions and orchids

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2012

SALISBURY — Generally, home gardeners have put their gardens to rest with a layer of cover crops. However, with warmer-than-normal weather, some home gardeners have questions about their vegetable gardens as well as other plant-related problems. Below are a few questions posed over the past few days.
Q: Can you eat the leaves of Brussels sprouts or broccoli? I tried cooking Brussels sprout leaves last week and they had a taste very similar to cooked cabbage.
A: Some find the leaves slightly bitter, often adding tender leaves to soups and stir-fries. The younger and more tender the leaves are, the easier on the palate.
Q: I planted my Brussels sprouts in September. The plants seem to grow well, but they did not produce any sprouts. What could be the problem?
A: Brussels sprouts are fairly easy to grow, but the plants take about 90 days to mature from planting. So, depending on when you plant, insects, weather, etc. will determine your crop. Most gardeners have the best luck with Brussels sprouts as a fall crop rather than in the spring due to excessively hot weather often experienced in the spring. Plant them in late August next year.
Q: I have onions still growing in my garden. Can I still have them until the spring?
A: Yes depending on the weather. Often, when there are periods of warm followed by very cold weather the plant will bolt (produce a seed head).
Q: My newly seeded lawn has a lot of weeds, mostly henbit and chickweed, coming up along with the grass. I sprayed as you recommended with lawn weed killer, but it looks like the weeds are still growing. Will the weed killer work?
A: Yes, but it does not work as fast in cool weather as in warmer spring weather. You should see some weed control. You may need to spray a couple of times for full weed control.
Q: When is the last day for the Salisbury Farmers Market?
A: The last day for the market to be open is this Saturday, Dec. 22. The market will return most likely in April 2013. The Salisbury Farmers Market board meets next month to make the decision on when to open.
Q: My orchid I bought will not re-bloom. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong?
A: According to the American Orchid Society, insufficient light is the most common cause of failure to re-bloom your orchid. Leaf color indicates if the amount of light is adequate. The lush, rich, dark green of most houseplants is not desirable in orchid leaves. A grassy green color (light or medium green with yellowish tones) means the plant is receiving sufficient light to bloom.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.