Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nurturing a different garden

I am away from the gardens for a bit, nurturing my own roots and working on accepting the changing seasons.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The garden is bursting

My bed of broccoli, collards and cabbage is bursting at the seams. The plants are huge and beautiful. Here you see the broccoli in the far back, the dark green heading collards next, the pale green cabbage collards, and, finally, the savoy cabbages. Pests have been kept to a minimum by the work of the lizards and birds, with no real intervention from me. For dinner last night I picked the largest, outer leaves from both Morris heading collards and cabbage collards, stacked them, rolled them, cut them into small shreds (across the rib, so no need to pull the ribs out), and then stir fried them with some hot pepper slices. What a spectacular vegetable dish.

The second bed has those amazing lettuces to do so well only this time of the year. It is tender and beautiful, both red leaf varieties and green butterhead types. The back of the bed is, however, a bit of a problem: the kale seeds I purchased turned out to be mustard greens! Now I like mustard greens ok, but I love kale. I am weighing whether to pull it all out and plant kale, but know that I risk not getting a good stand because it is now so late in the season. What to do?? I'll let you know what I decide.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Waste to wonderful

Although a bit late, I was able to thin my kale and arugula plants this weekend. I pulled out all the extra plants so that there was just one plant every 6 inches or so. The small, leggy plants that I had removed didn't look like much. Here you see them, freshly rinsed, piled in a pan where I had sauteed garlic and red peppers in olive oil. The next photo is the final result: whole grain pasta with sauteed baby greens. Oh my, yes. These thinning did not have enough volume to make a vegetable dish on their own, but that didn't stop them from being the center of an amazing fall meal.

After thinning, I watered the remaining plants with a mixture of rain water and worm castings. I hope this will both help them recover from any root damage caused by the thinning, and will give them a boost. Because I was late in thinning these plants, the remaining ones are leggy and weak, and could not hold themselves upright. Lets see what a few days and some worm juice will do for them!

The hens are so happy that the weather has cooled. For a change, none of the four are moulting right now, and we are occasionally getting four eggs a day, although it is usually only two. I am feeding the ladies all the older, damages leaves from the now huge broccoli, collards, and cabbage plants, and they are thrilled. (My new favorite natural control for cabbage worms on the garden crops: small lizards that have moved into the garden!)