Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kale by Numbers

[Gardens, or yards, as the inhabitants called them, were stored with gigantic plants of Kale or Colewort - Scott (Waverly)]

This past winter, I attempted an experiment in wintering kale, in which I covered three plants with a natural mulch, and then let nature take its course. The plants spent a good deal of their time under layers of snow, in sub-freezing temperatures, for this past winter was a rather severe one by coastal Connecticut standards.

One plant didn't survive and I found it rotted in the springtime. Another appeared to have been eaten by something (perhaps those two marauding squirrels who also sought refuge from the cold in my attic?). But the third plant survived just fine. In fact, it looked down-right bright and healthy, for all it had endured. So I removed it from the ground and placed it in a large plastic flower pot. This is how the kale looked exactly two weeks ago:

And this is how it looked today:

Yes, we've had quite a bit of warm, sunny weather the past two weeks, and also quite a few rainy days. In fact, the past three days have seen nothing but rain, and things are just growing like crazy!

But I have never seen kale looking quite like this ever before . When I purchased this plant last fall, it was more cabbage-like than anything else. But now it has taken on the appearance of a true flowering plant. My guess is that it will flower in another month's time and go to seed. I have read where kale, which are not good hot weather plants, get into a distressed state as soon as the weather warms up, and then produce their seeds.

In any event, I'll be watching this guy closely, and with any luck, I'll have a nice brood of new, young kale to border my front pathway come the fall. Of course, I will do my best to keep this plant alive during the hot summer, even storing it down in the cool basement during the hot weather, if that will keep it from withering.

Here are two more somewhat random photos. Below are various collards that I purchased recently, which are also growing like mad with all the sun and rain. I am in the process of planting a total of three gardens this year -- two potagers, and a colonial herb garden. The collards will, of course, go into one of the potagers, along with various other edible plants that I am likewise growing in containers until ground is broken:

And this is an antique dry-sink in my mudroom, which I use for various planting activities. The dry-sink still has its original copper liner, which is quite an interesting piece of metalwork and also very convenient. In the nursery tray below, I've planted two types of large garden beans, sequoias, and dragon tongue (36 of each):

Naturally, these beans will go into one of the potagers after they've matured in a few weeks. To support the beans, I'm constructing natural tuteurs from some old maple branches that I've collected and am right now peeling and whittling down a little. They should like quite nice once they are in place.


Shellmo said...

Nothing more satisfying than growing your own food! I hope your kale thrives!! I am going to transplant my seedlings this week - I have peppers, dill, basil, zuchini, etc that have already sprouted.

Cassie said...

Can hardly wait to see the gardens once they are all planted! You do not surprise me anymore with all your talents! I'm betting you are also a great cook??
We head north to N.Idaho on the 14th and I'll have to figure out what I'll be planting this year. Have had such good success with tomatoes the past 2 years---that after being a total failure as a veggie gardener in Phoenix for 35 years.It was quite encouraging! I have all kinds of bulbs,roses, azelias and some other bushes that I can't recall the name that I'm anxious to see if they made it through the winter. I hate being away from all that.

Caffeinated Librarian said...

I'm not a big collards fan, but I know a good recipe for greens if you find that they do grow like crazy and you need something to do with them.

John Poole said...

Shelley ~ Definitely very satisfying, and thanks regarding the kale! Good luck with your transplants -- hope to see some photos of your garden soon!

Cassie ~ Thanks! But great cook? Hardly! I am a great cook as long as I stick to my small collection of signature dishes, two of which are (you guessed it) breakfast-related! Hope all went well with your wintering plants. And I am looking forward to seeing your blog updates transitioning to your N. Idaho homestead!

Liby ~ Sure, anything like that would be more than welcomed. Feel to post links or send email. I need to be able to impress my southern relatives with my knowledge of collards, sooner or later!