Northeast Florida: Growing Brussels Sprouts, Best Grapefruit Trees

Growing Brussels Sprouts and grapefruit in northeast Florida. Read the latest Florida gardening tips from Nassau County, Florida horticultural agent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A University of Florida faculty member and Nassau County Extension Horticultural Agent, Rebecca Jordi addresses some of the questions she receives about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida, in GARDEN TALK. The Extension also offers helpful clinics throughout the year, providing assistance to local gardeners on Amelia Island and in the surrounding areas of Nassau County, Florida. __________

Brussels Sprouts Can Be Grown in Northeast Florida

QUESTION: Can we grow Brussels sprouts here in Florida? MT

JORDI: Yes, we can grow Brussels sprouts here in Northeast Florida, but producing a full harvest is as unpredictable as our Florida weather. Brussels sprouts grow best with cool daytime temperatures, preferably below sixty-five degrees. Some fall and winters we have consistently cool temperatures but one never knows. Planting time is between September and November.

Brussels sprouts are related to the cabbage family. The tiny sprouts grow along the stem at the base of each leaf rather than one large head. According to Texas A&M, if you wish to collect the seeds for next year’s crop, keep the sprouts away from cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower. Brussels sprouts can cross pollinate with any of the plants in the cabbage family which would produce hybrid seeds. Purchase quality, disease free seeds. Several reliable seed catalog companies are available on-line.

QUESTION: I would like to grow a pink or red grapefruit here in Northeast Florida. What would you suggest? JA

Ruby Red Grapefruit, Florida

JORDI: Try Ruby Red or Pink Marsh. Pink Marsh is nearly seedless and can be harvested from December through May. Ruby Red is readily available at local garden centers and plant nurseries. Ruby Red is also nearly seedless producing fruit from November through May. Both cultivars are delicious eaten or used for their abundant juice.

Be careful about combining grapefruit juice with certain medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist just to be sure you will not cause a reaction if you drink grapefruit juice with your prescribed medication. Half of a medium pink grapefruit can provide 100% of your daily vitamin C requirements and still only be 60 calories. It also contains other important vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin A, thiamin, niacin and magnesium. Grapefruit also contains lycopene which is thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Of equal importance is what grapefruit does not contain – no fats or sodium. So go ahead, eat a grapefruit without any guilt.

QUESTION: I live on Beech Street and I would like a Beech tree. Will you recommend one for me? JH

JORDI: The American Beech, Fagus grandifolia, needs enough room to spread out 40-50 feet. This tree should be planted on large estates and I do not believe your landscape would be able to sufficiently support this grand tree. In addition, the cold hardiness for this tree is zone 8 and you are in zone 9a. Although the hardiness zone is on the edge, it would be an additional stress for the tree.

I would suggest you consider the American Hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana, which only reaches heights of 20-30 feet with the same spread. Although it is not a true beech tree, it has a common name of Blue Beech because its bark has a bluish hue and the leaves are similar in shape to the American Beech tree. American Hornbeam is slow growing, so it would take some time to grow tall. It also is better suited for our hardiness zone. The American Hornbeam is an under-utilized, native tree perfect for the smaller residential landscapes. It prefers acid soils and the small fruit and buds attract birds and squirrels. The American Hornbeam can grow well in full sun or filtered light.

Rebecca Jordi

Rebecca L. Jordi
University of Florida/IFAS
Nassau County Extension
Environmental Horticulture Agent III
543350 U. S. Highway #1
Callahan, FL 32011
(904)548-1116 or (904)879-1019

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