Friday, February 18, 2011

Kale and hearty in the garden!

I'm going to have to send my homegrown veggies to the Master Gardener classes so that they learn what is expected of them.  Most home grown vegetables are annuals. The exceptions include asparagus and artichokes, and in very hot climates where there is never frost, peppers.  However, in the Californian climate many vegetables get confused.  My broccoli and kale have been behaving like perennials - they just don't seem to know when to quit!

Kale in particular, has been my go-to crop since December 2009. When I say that, I mean that the seeds I planted in October 2009 grew into plants that I have been harvesting leaves from steady since December 2009.  I'd just pull the lower larger leaves from the bottom and the crown would keep on going until the kale plants came to resemble mini palm trees.  I grow the ragged-edged, purple-veined Russian red kale and the dark green Nero di toscana kale.  Both of which are tasty, versatile and just keep on giving!

Last week, after a particularly warm stretch of weather, I noticed that the Nero di toscana had decided enough was enough - they were putting out blossom.  My Mum and Aunty Teresa (My Fairy Godmother), who are visiting at the moment, were recruited to help bring in the kale harvest before it all bolted.
We spent the afternoon picking, washing, drying and chopping kale, ending up with a freezer full of portion sized bags of kale. To be honest, I was glad to make room in my garden.  I still have the Russian red growing, and the broccoli contines to push out tasty florets, but I've planted a host of other seeds, and when they germinate they will need space to grow.
 My basil has germinated nicely already.
 And the sunflowers are shrugging off their seed coats too.
 The strawberries loved the rain we got this week. 
We had another visitor to the garden this week.  My husband noticed a strange bird hovering in one spot above our yard one morning.  The bird was able to hang in the sky and even turn it's head towards me when it heard the screen door pull back.  It seemed to look me straight in the eye.
My guess is that this is a barn owl, thinking it was still dawn due to the grey skies - obviously it's not just the plants in California that get confused by the weather here!  If you know what this bird is please leave me a comment.
Like all good guests to my garden, this owl is helping us out big time.  Whereas my Mum and Aunty Teresa were a dab hand at extracting weeds and pulling kale, (Mum actually enjoys weeding!) the barn owl will keep the squirrels and other rodents under manners!

Now, that's what I call teamwork.

Byddi Lee