October 28, 2010

late fall in the garden


nearly november in the garden. in a funny turn of events, my garden has gone from being the smallest, wimpiest one in relation to its neighbors to the loveliest, best-groomed and best-tended. for unknown reasons, most of my fellow gardeners have let their tomatoes ripen and rot on the vines; there are errant squash everywhere. why work so hard all summer only to let it all waste away? I admit somewhat shamefully to harvesting some tomatoes from my neighbor's plot, although I feel almost no remorse. all the other tomatoes in their plot have plopped from the vine onto our walkway. I've seen them just once all summer.

what's left in my garden: herbs (rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, catnip and chives); a great forest of brussels sprouts, currently beginning their brussels sprouting; various salad greens; one lone bolted broccoli (I didn't harvest it in time); one lone beet (the others didn't grow); tiny parsnips; a few remaining walla walla onions; kale & chard.

THE KALE. sweet lord in heaven, I will never eat all the kale. because I am occasionally well-meaning but not very bright, in a garden-related conversation with a coworker the other day, I offered to trade her lettuce for kale. her greens didn't grow very well, and I somehow suffered momentary amnesia and forgot that I had a shit ton of kale in the garden. an all-you-can-eat kale buffet. I kept thinking for absolutely no reason whatsoever that she would bring me curly kale, which I have but a limited quantity of in my own garden. instead, she brought me russian red kale, which was the main seed in my mesclun mix, and which I've been eating in large quantities all summer (it's the big leaf in the basket pictured above). I am, of course, very grateful to her, and also glad to pass on one of the giant lettuce heads. but there's only so much you can do with several pounds of kale. it's enough kale to completely cover my kitchen table. remember my gigantic radicchio? yeah, like that.

fortunately I am stubborn as a mule, stingy with my grocery money, and in full-on fall hibernation mode. so on the docket for this week's cooking: roasted kale, kale & bean soup, sweet & savory kale. plus kale in my omelets, and in my salad. and a certain someone will probably also get his own healthy supply. we're full up on vitamin K around these parts. I will never bruise again.

other things I harvested yesterday include more green peppers than I know what to do with, some herbs for lelo's delicious-looking roasted tomato soup (using the rest of the tomatoes from the garden), tiny green onions thinned from my walla walla patch (to allow the others to grow to full size), lemon cucumbers (! in the fall -- they were confused), and the tops of the mostly bolted broccoli. the bees love the broccoli flowers, so I left the rest of it standing. I harvested the basil plant and chopped/pureed most of it for storage in the freezer. the rest is either drying, being used in basil vinaigrette, or is starring in cinnamon basil ice cream, which I made yesterday.

for the spring, there are queen of the night tulips, grand perfection tulips, hyacinths, and crocuses planted. I had grand ideas of pretty, color-coordinated tulip beds, but then I forgot what everything looked like and I pretty much planted it all in a big clump. none of it will match, it will probably all be garish, but since it's my first stab at bulb planting, I'll be happy just to see it shoot up. also, BLACK TULIPS. love.

I've also planted two different varieties of garlic. you guys, I have learned so much from gardening. I had no idea that what you plant to grow garlic ... is garlic. no special seeds, no plant starts; nothing like onions or beets. I got to the nursery the other day, saw the garlic, and thought, 'wait, that?' each clove is a BULB! lightbulb moment! no wonder all my flower bulb packages say "do not eat ornamental bulbs." so hopefully next year there will be 17 heads of nootka rose or spanish roja garlic.

a cover crop of austrian peas & fall cereal rye are spread on the two sections of the garden that are currently dormant. with luck, I can plant cover crop on a third bed (the lettuce bed) before it's too late to put the seed down. of course, that involves another few weeks of intense lettuce eating. fortunately, I've gotten rather used to my daily salad trough, so much so that I'm not certain what I'll do once the salad greens are gone for the season. turn to kale, I guess.


  1. I want to plant my own kale!! I bought seeds a month ago, but I'm not sure if I can plant anything now..I live in Canada and it's getting cold.

    I will be reading your blog from now on :)


  2. Thanks, Amy! Kale is SUPER easy, at least here -- it's hardy and grows like a weed. Though you're right that it's likely too late for this season.