The garden activity keeps slowly and quietly rolling on here in south Minneapolis.
My “Red Russian” kale was looking tough after the first couple frosts, so I stripped all the leaves off and made a big pot of kale soup. I lazily left the stalks alone, and they re-sprouted these tiny little leaves! They’re getting a bit frost-damaged (we’ve had a handful of lows to just under 20 degrees F now), but I’m still tossing them in with other greens.
The same thing happened with this lacinato kale that I had stripped sometime in early September. New growth is standing up to the cold much better than older leaves of the same type of kale:
As you can see, the larger, more mature kale leaves on the right are much sadder than the newer ones on the left. The seeds for these plants came from the same packet, but there’s been a bit of variation in leaf color and texture. The greener, curlier ones are putting up with the cold much better. That’s not to say the kale on the right has reached the unusable point yet: I think it will still be fine for a soup or a quiche. The sooner the better, though.
Over in the hoop house, sad sights. The tiny bit of lettuce that is left is looking quite frost-damaged now, and the chard also looks less cheerful than it did a week or two ago. One thing I neglected to take into account when planting this in mid-August was that the growth rate of these plants slows down SO MUCH in the fall with the waning light. I should have planted more and crowded them in closer, because they just did not come close to achieving standard size. Chalk that up to experience; I’m still proud to have made my (likely) last lettuce harvest on 11/14.
I was disappointed with my dill this year — I used SO MUCH of it in 2011 that I didn’t leave quite enough seeded-out plants to get a good number of new ones for this year. So late this summer I plucked a bunch of seeded-out dill plants from one of my volunteer garden projects, put them in a bag, set them aside and forgot about them. I just found them today so I hurried to scatter those seeds around before the snow flies.
My leaf mold project continues. You can see the layer separating our 2011 leaves and the newly-added 2012 leaves. If Elliot Coleman is right, I should have leaf mold for my 2013 garden. I’m very excited to try it out. It’s also amazing how many leaves you can pack into these simple little towers. We get A LOT of leaves, but this year we spread most of them on our new native plant gardens, and packed the rest in these towers. That’s ZERO bags of leaves from our yard!
I am glad to have a gardening off-season, short as it may be. It gives me time to pursue other interests like reading (while drinking tea with my homemade hipster jar holder), running with my old pal Blake (our 11YO german shepherd mix), and I’ve even picked up knitting needles again this past week.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!