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Picking Brussels sprouts helps plant grow

Pick Brussels sprouts to foster growth

Q: I have 18 Brussels sprouts in three earth boxes. They look great! They're about a half inch in diameter or smaller. How much time until maturity? How does one remove the sprout? Do the plants grow more after picking? Can you remove the stems and leaves without hurting the plants? Is the entire plant edible? Also, what would be a great vegetable or fruit to grow through the summer months?

Dan

A: I certainly hope that you like Brussels sprouts! A good picking size is an inch to inch-and-a-half in diameter. They will continue to produce at the top as the plant continues to grow. If you let them get much bigger the plant will stop producing, to pick, just twist. The leaves are also edible and can be cooked in much the same way as you would prepare collards, one of the many cousins in the cabbage family. As for summer veggies: okra, egg plant and some peppers are about it.

These plants need colder weather

Q: I have several questions:

1. Do almond and apricot trees grow well in Florida, and if so, where can they be purchased?

2. Where can fragrant daffodils be purchased?

3. We have a lot of narcissus plants but they do not bloom. How can this be corrected?

Chris Tingirides

A: Unfortunately, all of the plants that you mention won't grow in the Tampa Bay area. They all need chilling hours (temperatures below 45 degrees) to flower and/or fruit. Apricots, for example need 300 hours of chilling through the winter to flower and fruit, and we'd be lucky to have 10 hours this winter. As for the fragrant daffodils you may want to check stores like Publix for potted plants, but when they are finished blooming they won't reflower again.

If it's bulbs that you want, try amaryllis, which is easy to grow, and is a fantastic hybrid. As for fruit, think tropical: papaya, guava, pineapple, loquat, mango, lychee, carambola, etc.

Need help? Dr. Hort (Greg Charles) answers questions about garden problems. Email him at drhort@tampabay.rr.com or mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe problem in full, and include your name, city of residence and contact information. If possible, include a good-quality photo. Fuzzy ones won't do. Photos cannot be returned. Please do not send plant samples.

Picking Brussels sprouts helps plant grow 05/18/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 16, 2013 4:18pm]

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