We got a little over an inch of rain yesterday and last night, which certainly was timely and saved me from having to water new plantings. It was the second nice rain since I planted the fall brassicas back on August 5th. I had two adjacent empty beds where the spring brassicas and garlic had been growing, and decided to put them back in use. I was hesitant about growing the same crop twice in the same year, but I did mix it up a bit. I planted the broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi where the garlic had been growing, and planted kale where the above three were planted earlier. I prepped both beds with as much compost as I could find and gave each a good dose of fertilizer as well. And I’m mulching with shredded paper topped with straw.
I don’t think kale is as heavy a feeder as broccoli for instance, and as you can see in the above photo it has really taken off in just two weeks. I’ve become a big fan of many of the open-pollinated kale varieties, and this year I planted a few old favorites plus a couple of new ones to try. Last year I grew Coalition Mix from Adaptive Seeds, and they describe it as “diverse genepool mix of 17 oleracea kales & their crosses.” It grew quite well here, and the kale was especially tasty. The year before I grew the Wild Garden Mix from Wild Garden Seeds, which is a mix of B. napus that “originated as a cross between ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Siberian’ ca. 1984.” It was a keeper too, and this year I planted quite a bit of both these mixes and we will see how they compare.
Of course you never know quite what you are going to get with any mix, but these two are truly diverse since they are ‘genepools’ that are in no way stable. And even though they are open-pollinated, they seem to have a hybrid vigor since they have not been inbred for many generations like o/p varieties that breed true. It is certainly fun to grow these mixes, and I can’t wait to see what they give us this year.
Another fall planting coming along nicely is the turnips, though I am sticking with tried and true varieties this year. I have Hakurei and Oasis white turnips, plus Tsugara Scarlet and the old standby Purple Top. I grow Purple Top as much for the greens as the roots. My wife and I both love turnip greens, and I find the Hakurei and Oasis are both somewhat shy producers of leaves, though they are smooth and tender. The bright red skin of Tsugaru Scarlet makes a lovely turnip kraut, and I’ve grown it for several years now.
Two things I am not growing this fall are carrots and radishes. I will miss both of them, but I need a break from gardening and they wound up on the chopping block. I will be starting lettuce and spinach later in the season for both the greenhouse and cold frames. I already have some arugula planted in one of the cold frame beds, half of it Speedy and the other half Apollo. Both are good producers here and a little milder tasting than your average arugula.
I also have plants of True Siberian and Western Front kale to plant in the greenhouse. I grew True Siberian there last winter, and it gave us an early start on the spring planted kale. Western Front is supposed to actively grow through the winter months, so we will see how it does in the greenhouse environment. I’m trying another new one in the main garden called Smooth German Kale I got from SSE. It is an annual variety, so if it does well I can plant it again next year and let it go to seed. In the meantime it will be fun to trial a few easy to grow kale varieties which should keep us supplied in kale this fall and early winter!