Kale finds place in garden, freezer

I have embraced kale. Last growing season I started four plants by directly seeding them into the plot. It was a very long time before I got anything that looked productive. By then I was not all that interested. But this year I set out four strong seedlings, conferred with friends who are believers and now have four kale nubs out in the garden. I researched the nutritional value of kale and had every intention of sharing that with you but, hey, the list of benefits is long and, actually, somewhat boring. My interest is that it’s tasty. We both love it raw, steamed or sauted, and it adds a positive dimension to our meals. What more could you ask for? I blanched some and tucked it into the freezer. I’ll let you know how that works out. 

The cranes are on the wind so I took a hint and got serious about harvesting. The potatoes, onions and shallots are all drying downstairs. The beets are in a five gallon bucket on the porch waiting for me to figure where to put them. The carrots are washed and stored in Ziploc bags with a paper towel in the refrigerator. The leeks are pulled and waiting in a bucket for me to chop up and toss into the freezer. We don’t have a root cellar so I depend on the freezer and a dry basement for food storage. Find what works for you and put it to use. 

I gleaned the last of the snow peas and pulled the vines. I grew Oregon Giants for the first time and, indeed not only were the peas large but the vines were huge multi-branched affairs. Next year I will give them more room, they were in dire need and probably would have produced even more than the generous offering that is now tucked in the freezer. 

I have pulled half the garlic. Two varieties were planted. I don’t know the name of one because I bought it at the grocery store and it performed just fine. The second is a favorite, Inchelium Red, but it is not cooperating and continues to look robust. It needs to back off and get the job done. 

All this brings me to the variety of vegetables that we can grow here in the Far North. Your list will be different from mine, this is all about what we like to eat, but here is an idea of what grew in our little plot this season: broccoli, four kinds of cauliflower, beans, peas, herbs, artichokes, carrots, potatoes, spinach, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, beets, onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, lettuce, radish and I am probably
forgetting something. 

The greenhouse provides tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and early beans. It also gives me the opportunity to start my own plants. But I love to garden, don’t think you need to do this. We are graced with wonderful nurseries here, take advantage of them and buy their strong healthy starts. The owners know what will grow and want your garden to succeed. Use them. 

But, if you think you really and truly want a greenhouse now is the time to get one up and ready for spring planting. I truly believe in getting an early start on the garden. The days get longer and plants really respond to the daylight. To extend the season out this time of year seems a bit futile. The days are markedly shorter and the plants want to be finished. You can tell by the way they hold themselves, like a pugilist in the final round. Let them go. 

I have settled on three tomato varieties: Brandywine, Japanese Black Trifele, and Gold Nugget. They each make my heart sing. Yet, I am always on the lookout for something new. Wouldn’t want to be in a tomato rut. There are so many varieties out there and it really is half the fun to find out what they taste like. You never know, you may find a new favorite. 

And, if you are one of those who doesn’t garden but reads this column for its entertainment value (hmmm) get yourself over to the Farmers’ Market with a basket and take advantage of the lovely produce that is rolling in this time of year. You can stuff your freezer and never get your hands dirty. Imagine that. 

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The perennial beds got a good deal of attention this weekend. Stuffed with annuals to compensate for the loss from winter past, I am pulling out those that look like they lost the fight. They are beyond deadheading (cutting off the spent blooms so they will continue to bloom) and are being removed. This freshens up the look of the beds, less bedraggled and more at the ready. The predominate plants have been cosmos in two colors, pink and deep cranberry; and godetia in shades of pink. They certainly did an excellent job of filling in space and have been lovely. That said, I am looking forward to pulling them out and getting a good look at the perennials that I either started from seed or bought in a panic. Never a dull moment. 

The time is nearing to plant bulbs and that includes peonies. They may be ubiquitous but they do so love it here. I was given a gorgeous root yesterday and tucked it in, one inch below the surface of the soil, wished it well and look forward to seeing the lovely single white bloom that it promises. I do believe fall planting from a root is the way to go with these lovelies. Keep in mind they need to be staked to make a strong statement in the garden. There are few things sadder than an unstaked peony laying on the ground in the rain. Oh, a delphinium. 

Keep harvesting, keep weeding, keep gardening, it isn’t over yet.