Kale for Days

 

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I just found this post in my draft folder. I was so sure that I had hit publish on it, but I guess not. This was my intro to the Kale I grew last year. I didn’t manage to get any growing photos of it last year (because 2016 was a giant steamy pile of… fresh compost), BUT I plan on trying them all again this year.

I love Kale. I think most of the world does now too. And the good thing, if you are also a Kale lover… Its ridiculously easy to grow. I was originally just going to group the Kale in with the other Brassicas that I am growing this year, but then I decided to dedicate a whole post just to the Kale

Rule of thumb – cover any kind of Brassica (which Kale is) to protect it from becoming a white cabbage butterfly (or moth…whatever it is) nursery. You can try and spray the eggs off with a jet of water from the hose… and then pick any caterpillars off the leaves later on if you want; But I find the easiest way to protect my brassicas is by covering them with a screen material. The one exception to this, is the Curly Kale. It doesn’t seem to attract the little buggers like pretty much any other brassica does. But be ready to cover it if you start to see the pretty little butterfly floating around them.

I’ve grown the Curly kale over-sown in a container just outside the kitchen door for baby leaves for a few years, and I definitely recommend trying that if you have no where else to grow it. So easy! You can let some of the plants grow on into full sized Kale plants too, so you can get the best of both worlds.

I’m growing 5 different varieties this year! My best friend brought me some different varieties back with her from a trip to Ontario. White Russian and the Rainbow Kale are the new additions here. They are from a seed company called “Urban Harvest” and I’m looking forward to trying all the seeds she brought me.

  • White Russian Kale
    • Sowed: April 11 (2x Hex cells)
    • “This beautiful variety has green, wavy leaves with white stems and veining. Thought to be one of the vest tasting kales. Very tender and hardy. Use baby leaves in salad and mature leaves for stir fry or steaming.” Urban Harvest Seeds
    • Days to Maturity: Not mentioned on seed pack
  •  Rainbow Dinosaur Kale
    • Sowed: April 11 (2x Hex Cells)
    • “This European Kale has been developed by Frank Morton. A cross of Lacinato (Dinosaur) & Redbor hybrid kale. He selected this diverse population that includes the leaf qualities that Lacinato is loves for, overlain with hues of red, purple, and blue-green. More vigorous and cold hardy than Lacinato. Not bitter and very tender.” Urban Harvest Seeds 
    • Days to Maturity: 62
  • Dinosaur (Lacinato) Kale
    • Sowed: April 11 (2x Hex Cells)
    • “Handsome heirloom known for its blue-green crinkled leaves, tender texture & sweet flavor. Delicious in salads, for sauteed greens, soups or braised with garlic & olive oil. Kale’s flavor is vest in cool weather; mature plants handle frost well or extended harvesting” Cornucopia Seeds
  • Red Russian Kale
    • Sowed: April 25 (3x peat pellet)
    • “Dark gray-green leaves provide more vitamins and minerals than other greens. Red and purple hues intensify after fall frost providing tender and sweet rich dark green kale when cooked. Tasty steamed, stir fried or in salads.” McKenzie Seeds
    • Days to Maturity: 60
  • Dwarf Green Curled Kale
    • Sowed: April 25 (3x peat pellet)
    • “Decorative green curled leaves. May be boiled as greens or chopped fresh for salads when young. Kale is the oldest form of cabbage, being superior to most vegetables in protein, vitamin and mineral content. Cool weather crop that likes rich well drained, moisture retaining soil. Tastiest after a light frost. Slow to bolt” McKenzie Seeds
    • Days to Maturity: 60-75

 

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So, for this year (2017), I think I will try the exact same Kale situation as I wrote about above. Which is why I left the dates I sowed them (for my own notes). As always, plans could change. At the very least, I will sow the curly, rainbow and the dinosaur Kale. At this point in my garden plan for this year, Kale will be the only Brassica I am going to grow, with the possibility of Broccoli if I can find some room for it.

If you have any Kale or other Brassica tips, share them in the comments below. Do you have a (preferably organic) way of keeping away the white butterflies? I would love to keep the netting out of my garden that doubles as our backyard landscapes, but I also know that I cannot keep up with hand-picking the eggs or little caterpillars off the plants.

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Cucumbers for 2016

  
I grew both of these varieties of cucumbers last year, but I don’t think I wrote about them at all. I really should have wrote all the words about them, because they were wonderful. The only thing is, I didn’t have enough plants. That will change this year.

Cucumbers need really rich and fertile soil, so plan out where you are going to grow them. I will be digging some home-made compost in just before I plant these outside. In addition, I grew Peas in this spot last year, so that should have added some usable nitrogen back into the soil, benefiting the cucumbers this year.

They also don’t like the cold, so grow in a greenhouse or wait until after your last frost date. For me, that will be safely in June. I will be watching the 14 day weather forecast to find a good outlook for the seedlings.

Cucumbers don’t like their roots being disturbed very much, so pick appropriate containers to sow into. I will be using home-made newspaper pots. This allows me to plant them straight into the ground, with minimal disturbance. They are also free, which is always a good thing. As far as soil to sow in, I will just be using regular potting soil. I could use seed sowing mix, but it ends up being more economical to use regular (good quality) potting mix rather than splurging on the amount of seed sowing mix that I would need.

I was going to try a new-to-me, larger sized cucumber this year, but then decided to stick to the two varieties I already have on hand and grow them better… and more of them.

I need enough of the pickling cucumbers to make pickling them worth the effort! The Lemon cukes are refreshing and delicious and didn’t even make it into the house last  year.

Varieties:

  • ‘Modern Early’ Cucumber (Heirloom)
    • Days to Maturity: 45
    • I sowed 8 newspaper pots of these on April 24
    • “This pickling variety has short white spined, medium green fruit. Plant outside only after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. This blunt shaped variety doesn’t take too much space in your garden” McKenzie Seeds
  • ‘Lemon’ Cucumber (Heirloom)
    • Days to Maturity: ? Doesn’t Say on Seed Packet
    • I showed 5 newspaper pots of these on April 24.
    • “A true heirloom whose vigorous vines bear abundant crunchy cukes the size and shape of lemons. Flavor is mild and sweet. Tasty and delicious eating either fresh, in salads or for making pickles.” Cornucopia Seeds

These things sprouted in 3 days!! It was incredible! I’ve never had germination this great with cucumbers before!

Are you growing cucumbers this year? What varieties have you chosen?