Thursday, October 23, 2008

Winding Down

If I could only put one thing under the heading of What I Learned On My Summer Vacation My Roof, it would be that Greens-- mesclun, lettuce, arugula, spinach, swiss chard, kale, and mustard/collard greens--are the best plants to put in SIPs. Best? Meaning they are easy to grow, produce large quantities over a long season, and while readily available at most markets, they're relatively expensive. As a cook/eater, the real reason to grow them is that they taste good and they're good for you.

I'm also growing broccoli and brussel sprouts. As a kid I hated both of them. Now I'll go out of my way to eat them if they taste good--a great recipe makes all the difference in the world.

When you grow the plants yourself, it's striking how big the leaves are compared what makes it into the produce section at the store. It seems a shame to waste all those greens, which are similar to kale and chard. One idea I came across is to toss the broccoli or brussel sprout leaves with pasta and cheese.

In keeping with the decidedly amateurish pedantic tone that I started with a few months ago, I'd like to pass on my steps for closing up shop for the winter.

Last fall I didn't do much, just cut down the dying plants and put them in the compost pile. Then I drained the containers, in what seems to have been an unnecessary effort, to keep them from cracking due to freezing/expanding water. Because I didn't cover the planters completely, rain and snow found its way into the reservoir where it mixed with the decaying roots to create a funky stew. On the plus side, none of the tubs cracked. Of course I only found this out in the spring.


This year I drained the tubs using a little hand siphon. The one shown here is normally used to transfer kerosene to a space heater.

Next was tearing off the old plastic bag, removing the old fertilizer strip, and digging out any large roots.

The last step was to cover the whole thing with a new plastic bag.

I'm hoping that all I'll have to do in the spring is take off the bag, add some new fertilizer, put the bag back over the planter, and after cutting small holes in it, drop in the seedlings.

That might be a little optimistic, but it's a plan.


H2 said...

Important post, Bruce, and a gorgeous new recipe for Brussels sprouts. Just in time.

The plant starts you gave us are big and healthy and setting up the tiniest little Brussels sprouts. With this cool weather, they should take off.

Russ C said...

Very timely Bruce. Besides for my lettuce/spinach box, I'll be doing this on Saturday/Sunday. I'll probably take your advice and go with more leafy greens next year. They ARE expensive at the store. Good post.