When I wrote about the Morelle de Balbis (Solanum sisymbrifolium) last it was on April 30, 2010 when the seedling was still living in the greenhouse. It had just begun to produce its thorns and I was beginning to get a glimpse into what I’d signed on for.
It is now July 1 and the plant has been living outdoors in soil for just over a month or so. When it came time to plant, I decided to grow it in a large pot, rather than in the ground. The final mature growth of this thorny Tomato Family plant is estimated to come in at around 5′ tall. I had a feeling it was going to be fairly treacherous to grow. Planting it into a garden bed meant there would be a greater chance of scratching myself on the thorns. I am not a particularly graceful person. I bash into door frames fairly regularly. I live in small spaces and I garden in cramped quarters, which means I regularly come into close contact with plants whether I want to or not. As the Morelle de Balbis grows it becomes more and more apparent that this is not a plant I want rubbing up against my skin.
I did not have any room left in the big pots on my roof, so I decided to plant it in a container in “the new space.” Oh, didn’t I tell you? There is a FOURTH garden this year. The fourth is a yard share, located through a secret door in the back garden of friend. One of my goals for this year was to get a bigger garden space. And when it didn’t happen through the City allotment garden network, a friend stepped up and asked me to join their space. I am so grateful.
With other gardeners in the space, I had to be especially mindful of this plant’s placement. As a part of the garden’s revamp in the spring, we decided to make use of a sunny spot along a fence by lining up large recycling bins for container growing. I planted the Morelle de Balbis in the furthest bin along the fence where I hoped it would receive minimal contact.
So far, so good. The recycling bins make excellent containers and all of the plants are coming along well. I’ve under-planted with ‘Sacred’ basil and it is turning out to be the happiest and healthiest crop I have ever grown.
The Morelle de Balbis is not yet at full size so I suspect the plant, and subsequently, its thorns, are only going to grow larger. Here’s what it looked like yesterday:
Even the buds are thorny. Eventually the fruit will be thorny as well. I think I’ll be harvesting these with my über forceps and a pair of leather work gloves.
These are the leaves; beautiful, but also thorny. Help!
If you’re interested in growing some unusual Solanaceae plants, Solana Seeds in Quebec carries a wide selection of seed. This year I’ve had the fortune of trading seedlings with another exotic edibles fan and am growing a few other plants listed on the site. I intend to introduce them when they get productive later in the season.