Out with the Kale, in with the Kale

“Hey, Logan,” I asked. “Have you ever tried to grow fennel?”

“I have, but it always bolts,” she said. And that’s why I ran right out and bought fennel seeds after another workday at the greenhouse. Based on our experience last winter with cilantro, another crop that goes to seed quickly in warm climates, the fennel should work out pretty well. Not only did the cilantro perform well in the winter, but it completely grew back when, in early spring, we shaved the bed down to the roots.

The greenhouse, open on the sides, shelters summer crops like tomatoes, squashes, and melons. In a few months, when those crops are spent, we will roll it on its tracks to the bed to the right, which is being prepared for winter crops now. Behind it is a field of grain to be harvested soon, and well beyond that is buckwheat to nourish the soil.

Under the greenhouse, we have Sungold tomatoes and bell peppers beginning to ripen. They survived the heat wave–when it was at least 120 under the open-sided greenhouse–in fine form. But daily irrigation is the price we pay for protecting the plants under a plastic roof.

Basil is ready to pick. We’ve had some cucumbers. Carrots and beets are still going strong. We have given up fighting the numerous squash bugs, and the summer squash plants are dying back under assault from them. In the coming month, we will be harvesting many different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and tomatilloes. Melons and winter squash will mature a little later (provided the squash bugs don’t do in the butternut and delicata).

We are still harvesting chard and kale planted in February when there was still snow on the ground. We’ve been taking surplus elephant (lacimoto) kale to the farmstand up the road; the farmer there helped Logan troubleshoot the irrigation system, and the kale is growing faster than we can eat it–even in this hot summer.

Kale seedlings for winter harvest.

Which is why it seems funny that we were planting more kale today. But it’s true: we’re beginning to plan what will be under the greenhouse this winter. The bed that will be our winter garden is open to the elements now. Peter, a summer helper, is sifting soil from the adjacent field and depositing it in rows. About two weeks ago, Logan transplanted some leek seedlings to the first bed, and today, she and I planted the rest of the row with kale and brussels sprouts. When the kale we planted in February finally dies back, we will have newly mature plants to get us through the winter.

In the next month, we will be balancing harvest projects (eating, canning, freezing) with sessions of soil preparation and planting for the winter. In addition to the leeks, kale, and brussels sprouts, we will also be planting a new crop of chard as well as more carrots, beets, and radishes, and greens like mizuna, last winter’s champ. Spinach, parsley, and cilantro will also figure into our plans.

And fennel. We’re going to try fennel.

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3 Responses to Out with the Kale, in with the Kale

  1. Pingback: Top Tips for Great Fall Gardens « Gardening On A Shoe String

  2. Pingback: The Dark Days of Winter: Eating Well With a Garden « Eclectic Edibles.

  3. Pingback: One beet, two meals; plus fennel and potatoes | The Winter Bounty Project

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