Scotch curly kale
Kale (and chard) are loving the cooler weather while the warm season crops are fading. I grew two kinds of kale this year. The first one is Scotch Curly Kale shown above which has done really well. No aphids or cabbage looper damage (from the cabbage moth). A super producer!
Cabbage looper damage on Lacinato kale
The other kale which is my favorite, is Lacinato kale. It is also known as Tuscan kale, Italian kale, dinosaur kale, black kale. It has struggled with attacks from cabbage moths which resulted in very ‘holey’ kale from the cabbage moth looper. I don’t know why they attacked the Lacinato but not the curly kale but I left them in as a trap crop to attract the cabbage looper to them. I could of sprayed Bt, an organic caterpillar insecticide but didn’t get to it. The crops were not close to each other.
Top leaves of Lacinato recovering from damage
Today I noticed that the new leaves on the Lacinto are perfect-no holes so I think the cabbage moth is gone. So I trimmed off all the holey leaves on the bottom and gave them to my chickens and will harvest the nice leaves soon. The chickens love it.
I will leave all the kales in the garden for now as they love the cooler weather and will cover them with row cover when the first freeze comes next week (WEATHER FREEZE FORECAST TUESDAY OCT 12!).
I have to confess I never have liked kale finding it too tough for me. But I do really like it in stews and soups where it softens up. To prepare it to use later, I trim off all the leaves from the stalks, rough chop it and steam the kale for 2 minutes. I super cool it quickly under water with ice to stop the cooking. I then drain and squeeze out all the liquid and put it in 2 cup increments in freezer ziplock baggies and freeze it. It’s the perfect amount to put into stews and soups in the winter.
Well, almost all my tulips bite the dust with the cold weather but these pictured above lifted up their heads and survived. At least I got about two weeks of glorious color to brighten my days before this latest cold snap and they will come back every year.
Looks like the weather will get above freezing from Friday nite April 17th when it is suppose to be 38°F to Saturday April 25th. But this is not carved in stone. As the saying goes here, if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.
Everybody needs to become a weather bug to see what is happening as the weather can change day by day and sometimes even hour by hour. I call this the ‘shoulder season’ where one day it is warm and sunny and the next day/nite cold and freezing and always windy here in spring. These are our springs-ever changing but of course then June will come and we will get too hot! It is way to soon to plant any warm season crops yet. To be safe, wait till May 15 and later. Last year we got snow on May 27 and the year before I was able to put out my tomato plants on May 7 in Wall of Waters. If the late spring weather really warms up or if you are a gambler, you may be able to plant warm season crops earlier but not without some protection. Otherwise you may be replanting…
If you are looking to start cool weather crops by seeds or starts in your garden, be sure to cover your plants with row cover. Winter weight row cover is best but 2 layers of mid-weight will work as well if you don’t have the heavier weight. I even keep the areas where I plant seeds covered and you can water through row cover till they are acclimated. That way as they germinate, they will get some protection. The row cover is also really good to protect baby starts from our ferocious spring winds which can wipe them out as well as our cold nights. I do flip row cover off the plants on nice days, then back on at nite. You can get this online. I have had friends put sheets over their plants and even one who wrapped a tree in a sleeping bag! Both froze-after all you need a body to keep things warm in a sleeping bag! I never said it would easy growing here in our area BUT you can do so with a few protections.
Beets planted by starts survived
I planted a week ago by seeds-carrots and arugula-they are not up yet. At the same time, I planted beet starts. They are suffering from those 21°F nites out in the garden but are alive. Shallots bulbs, kale and fava beans are all very cold hardy and doing well. Peas got eaten by some thing 4 legged. All were put out one week before this cold snap and all are alive because of row cover on them. All lettuces and spinach were in either my greenhouse or a coldframe and did fine, but they too were covered with 2 layers of row cover.
It seems like from Friday, April 17th the nites will get above freezing for at least a week. This would be a good time to start cool season crops outside whether by seed or starts. So watch the weather and don’t forget to hand water them!
Harlequin bug. Photo courtesy Hobby Farms
I’ve got a lot of questions from people about an orange and black bug attacking their food crops. It’s called a Harlequin bug and it is a bad one for our vegetable gardens. You need to hand-pick them off right away as they can decimate your vegetable garden. They particularly like crops like cabbage, broccoli and mustard but will attack squash, beans, corn, asparagus, or tomatoes. I pick them off and put in a bucket of soapy water just like for squash bugs. Funny But I don’t remember them in years past but they are here now. Some people are reporting picking off hundreds of them! So don’t wait, get on it NOW.
Read more at Gardening Know How: What Are Harlequin Bugs: How To Get Rid Of Harlequin Bugs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-of-harlequin-bugs.htm
The garden officially finished on the night of October 9. There were a few cool season crops that did fine in the 27°F temperature-mainly beets, carrots, kale, and bok choy but all the warm season crops are done. I think this was early for a first frost. I write it down so I can review the frost date next year.
I did cover the lettuces in the greenhouse with winter weight row cover but it was actually unnecessary as the temperature was above freezing in the greenhouse and they are looking great and loving the cooler weather.
Now that it’s done, I’ll have time to share some gardening experiences and new crops I tried this year. I will be posting in the next few weeks some of the highlights of this year in the garden.
I still have to clean out the garden and put it to bed. AHHH CRUMBA!
But first I think I’ll go flyfishing one last time this year before it really gets cold…