Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kale and Hearty

You know when I resort to punful post titles like this one, that I've had a rough week or so! As I warned earlier this week, work has gotten in the way of blogging quite a bit lately, and unfortunately it's going to remain that way for some time to come ... so bear with me, gentle readers, until I can get back into more regular posting!

This poor munched upon beauty (I blame the were-rabbits!) is a variety of Flowering Kale (Brassica oleracea Acephela group), one of my fall "blooming" favorites, though I don't always find my favorite varieties to plant each year, so sometimes I just have to settle for what I can get! I didn't remember to save the stake on this particular variety, but it's one of the more common ones you find in discerning gardens around the area, and it's no wonder why given how easy it is to grow!

Kale is pretty unimpressive when you get it because it looks just like many cabbages, except for its initial shading of color, which is, in this case, is its purplish tinge. They grow fairly slowly through late spring and early summer, but really launch into a full fledged spurt toward the end of the hotter months in late September, and from that point on they start to take on their true colors and put on some size ... they're at their prime in October and November and are undaunted by the first few frosts, succumbing only to the hard freeze that either kills the remaining annuals or sends hardy perennials off to their winter repose.

Kale likes full sun and isn't particularly picky about soil, as long as it's fairly well drained and doesn't stay soggy for long periods of time. Truly, this is one of those "plant it and forget it till it's ready to shine" plants because though for part of the summer they are fairly unremarkable, when they get going toward Fall, they're a more than welcome bright spot in the garden amongst the other tired and rapidly waning plants. As for the "Flowering" part, it's not really a flower per se, but rather a dense rosette of leaves (that never really forms a head) bearing the coloration of each cultivar. Ornamental Kales are perfectly fine to eat (though I've never had it) and according to Wikipedia, they are actually a great source of Vitamins A and C, so I should probably try it sometime!

Over the years we've tried several "ornamental" vegetables in the front boulder beds, most notably Swiss Chard Bright Lights, which though we haven't grown it in a couple of years, I intend to get it going again next year, because it's another late summer-fall stunner that can actually be harvested and eaten as well. Last year we planted an ornamental
pepper (e.g. don't eat it because it's too hot!) ... a deep purple variety with small fruit (purple too!), a very attractive plant that actually went to seed, though it didn't get very big this year before frost hit. We had planned on digging a few to keep in pots over the winter (since they only get about 5-8 inches tall), but we didn't get around to it before they bit it ... oh well, maybe next year, as the gardener's refrain goes!

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'll be working again.... Even so, I hope to catch up on a movie or two I have recorded --you know the mindless type!-- I think it's time to roll Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story with John C. Reilly. Yes, Annie, I do on occasion indulge in shamelessly commercial movie fare, though it's been a while since we last did that and enjoyed the truly shameless Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay. As one who has been often accused of being a film snob, I guess I just have to reaffirm my trash credentials from time to time....


FARfetched said...

I'm thinking about putting in some fall/winter edibles. Here, that would be spinach, lettuce, maybe some of that kale… turnip greens aren't my thing but they're popular with the locals.

Any thoughts?

boran2 said...

I love the color of that kale. I've had them in the past and was amazed how long they last. Truly durable plants.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
First, the thought of winter crops for us is a moot point, unless we had some fancy cold frames. But in your case, it depends on whether you get regular freezes or snows that could kill tender ones like lettuce and spinach. I think if you don't get a hard freeze (i.e. the ground freezes hard like it does here), you could pull some of those off, and any of the Brassicas (cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts and the like) might pay off. As for Kale, I'm clueless whether you could even find it there at this time of year, but you'd know better than I. My dad used to plant these "winter onions" in a cold frame and was quite successful. As I recall they were so strong and pungent they were barely edible, lol.

I think you might want to ask Mrs. Fetched's mother if she has any ideas because she sounds pretty adept at the crop thing....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2!
Isn't that a great color? That's cool you used to grow them, and you should consider them again. (Weren't they super easy?) It's sad when they "melt" with the first really hard freeze when you know they're total 'goners.' :-)

Shady Gardener said...

I Love that Kale! It's fantastic! Full sun, pity. Perhaps I'll try one in my best sunny corner anyway. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
It is a beauty, I agree. Wherever you have a sunny spot, give it a shot, because they don't take up a lot of space and pretty much grow vertically so they won't be crowding anything out. I've even seen people grow them in pots, so they are adaptable!