Saving Collard Seed

Last year I did a trial of collard varieties, planting eight varieties I had never grown before, plus five more that I had grown in the past. They all did quite well in the fall garden, and my wife and I enjoyed many a meal that included collard greens. Amazingly to me, several of the plants out in the garden actually survived our winter. I did nothing to protect them either. Our winter wasn’t particularly cold, but we did have lots of rain and a bit of snow and ice.

collard plants blooming

Since these proved to be tough and hardy plants, I decided to let them go to seed. I’ve saved seeds from kale before but never collards, so this is a first for me. It does take quite a while for the seed pods to set on and mature, but I decided I would idle the bed they are growing in and just let them go. It may well be June or July before the seeds mature. The varieties that survived are Alabama Blue, Green Glaze and Georgia Southern.

collard blooms

The plants have gotten quite tall, with the flower stalks reaching almost five feet tall. The plants are all covered in blooms, and honeybees and bumblebees are out there working them daily. The Alabama Blue plants are setting pods already. It’s amazing that the pods themselves are purple like the leaves. You can see them in the below photo in my hand.

collard plant setting seed pods

I decided to let all the varieties bloom and set seed, which will surely mean they will cross pollinate. The seeds I save will make a mix of plants, perhaps some with purple leaves and some with green ones. At the very least, they all should be hardy since they come from plants that survived the winter.

Alabama Blue collard plant blooming

If this seed saving project is successful, I plan to share some of the saved seeds later this year. I want to try some myself of course, since I love to experiment. I don’t know if the seeds will be ready in time to plant in 2020 though, since last year I started my seed in late May and set out the plants in mid July. I hope you have enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday April 27, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Another month has flown by, which is pretty amazing considering my only trips outside the house are for weekly trips to the grocery and almost daily walks around our neighborhood! I have kept busy with gardening activities, and that includes planting and weeding as well as harvesting. The asparagus is finally taking off, and we had enough last week to roast a batch one day for lunch. A little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt is all the seasoning it needed.

roasted asparagus

I pulled all the broccoli from the greenhouse, and quite a bit of the kale. I froze some of the kale for later use.  The Groninger Collard Kale plants got huge and made lots of leaves over the winter.

Groninger Blue Collard Kale

The kale rapini are still coming on and we’re still eating them.

kale rapini

The Flashy Trout Back lettuce was ready for harvest. This version of the heirloom Forellenschluse has buttery soft green leaves with bright red splashes on them. It’s colorful as well as tasty.

Flashy Trout Back lettuce

I’ve also been picking other greens for salads as needed. These include the Mizspoona, Sorrel and arugula. All three add a bit of extra flavor to the mix.

salad greens

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Late April Greenhouse Tour

It’s time for another tour of the greenhouse to show what’s happening there in late April. Quite a bit has changed since I last did a tour back three weeks ago. It’s always a busy place this time of year, and 2020 is no exception.

view inside the greenhouse

For one thing, I now have a lot of seedlings out there. I have planted the brassicas that were there, and moved some of the warm season veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes and a few of the peppers to the greenhouse shelves. The cucumbers will get planted in the greenhouse beds here in a week or so.

cucumbers

The petunias have started putting on blossoms, and I have begun potting them up for planting outside. I started these back in mid-February, and they have grown into good sized plants now. They are all Wave varieties, which do extremely well for me in containers and provide lots of color all summer long. They are also popular with the swallowtail butterflies. The dark red bloom you see is Easy Wave Burgundy Velour.

Wave petunias

The tomatoes were started back in mid-March, and they should be ready for planting in early May once the soil is warm enough. The danger of frost should be past here now, but I generally rely on soil temps to guide my spring plantings. If you plant the tomatoes and other warm-loving veggies in cold soil, they will just sit there and sulk. These these tomatoes are in a 50 cell plug flat, which is where they will stay until I set them out.

tomato seedlings

The lettuce I planted in the salad boxes a few weeks ago has grown quite a bit from the last tour. It should be ready to start cutting in about two weeks or so. The ones in the below photo are mostly Salanova varieties.

lettuce in salad boxes

And the zucchini I set out in grow bags a few weeks ago has also grown a lot. I started these a full month earlier than I did last year, and that means I could be harvesting the first fruits a month earlier too. That would be mid-May, which would be exciting if it happens. I am sure by mid summer we will be less excited about any of the summer squashes, but the first few are always a big hit for sure.

Astia zucchini

It’s my first time growing the Tuscan Baby Leaf kale from Renee’s Garden. The leaves stay small and tender, and we’ve been enjoying them in salads mixed with other greens. I’ve got the plants growing in a planter where they seem happy for the time being. This one appears to be a keeper, and I look forward to growing it again.

Tuscan Baby Leaf kale

Another green I have growing in a planter is Mizspoona Salad Select. As the name suggests, it is a tender green suitable for adding to salads and other dishes like stir fries and soups.

Mizspoona Salad Select

I have most of the planters sitting at one end of the greenhouse. That spot was previously occupied by the purple sprouting broccoli, which I pulled and put on the compost pile. I put down cardboard under the planters to keep the weeds from sprouting, and they can stay there until I need the space for cucumbers.

planters with greens

I have more lettuce ready to plant in the greenhouse, and it will likely go in containers. I do have bed space available, so it’s possible I may plant some both ways.

lettuce seedlings

I also want to show the lemongrass plants I rooted in water and planted in a pot about a month ago. They are ready to be set out in the garden once it gets a bit warmer, and they will grow into a large clump by fall and keep us well supplied of the lemony leaves and stalks.

lemongrass

I made a video for Earth Day giving a quick tour of the greenhouse. If you’re getting this post via email, please visit the blog to see it, or click this link: https://videopress.com/v/hyy9s8vm

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of the greenhouse here in late April. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!

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Harvest Monday April 20, 2020

It’s time once again for Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It can’t decided if it wants to be winter or spring here, with the temperatures fluctuating daily. The asparagus was set back a bit when cold weather arrived again last week, and temps dipped below the freezing mark on two mornings. It should sprout up again when warmer days return. We got two more spears though, and I roasted these to add to a pizza I made for dinner one night.

fresh asparagus

The kale rapini is still coming on strong, and we are still enjoying it. Winterbor is making the largest number of sprouts, but all the kale plants are making rapini now.

kale rapini

I also cut more kale leaves from the greenhouse plantings, mostly True Siberian this time. The leaves are still tender and mild even this late in the season. We’ve pretty much had kale whenever we wanted it all winter, so I am happy for that.

True Siberian kale

I’ve got Mizspoona Salad Select growing in a container in the greenhouse, and the leaves are now big enough for cutting. This bunch got added to a salad, adding a little extra flavor. I also stir fry it sometimes, and it makes a green addition to a frittata or omelet. This cross of mizuna and tatsoi resembles a “dark green monster Mizuna” according to the listing at Adaptive Seeds, and I’d say that was a fitting description.

Mizspoona Salad Select

The lettuce for that salad with the mizspoona was Pele, which I have growing in another container in the greenhouse. Pele colors up nicely in the greenhouse, and it is one of my favorites. It’s a romaine type, with spotted leaves that resemble the heirloom Forellenschluss lettuce.

Pele lettuce

In other news, I baked a loaf of sourdough bread last week, using some freshly milled red wheat flour. I sifted some of the flour to lighten up the loaf a bit and remove some of the bran. The red wheat gave the bread a dark color and a wonderful flavor. Baked in a clay baker, it had a crisp crust and made a good base for olive tapenade we enjoyed one day. My flour supply is holding out and with plenty of whole grains, a grain mill and a flour sifter I should be able to make bread here for months to come. Having a sourdough starter helps too, since yeast is still in short supply here as well as flour.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!


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Planting the Spring Brassicas

I took advantage of relatively dry weather this last week and got our spring brassicas planted. We’re still having frosts here, and even had temperatures dip below freezing on two morning this week. The cabbage family plants are pretty hardy though, and the temps rebounded quickly and the the little seedlings are none the worse for wear. I got two of the cold frame beds planted first. These are situated behind the new greenhouse on the south side of it and benefit from the somewhat warmer microclimate.

cold frame bed with kohlrabi

I planted one bed with kohlrabi, 30 plants in all. The cold frame is covered with bird netting to keep the deer and other critters from getting to the plants. The netting is a bit tattered but I figure I can get a bit more use out of it. The plants aren’t as big as they were last year, but in 2019 we got so much rain that planting was delayed and the plants kept growing before planting. These plants are the size I like them, with two or three true leaves and a well developed root system. I mulched with shredded newspaper and cardboard, which will keep down weeds and conserve soil moisture before it eventually breaks down and adds organic matter to the soil.

young kohlrabi seedling

I made a short video the day I planted the kohlrabi, and I’ll share it here.

I planted the other bed with a mix of cabbage, kohlrabi and mizuna. For this bed I fashioned a support from bent PVC pipe, and secured bird netting to it with clothes pins. I used the shredded paper mulch here as well.

bed with PVC pipe supports

In the main garden I planted broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi this morning. I worked up the bed last week, and added compost and other amendments. I put a little organic fertilizer in the planting holes and worked it in the soil, and watered all the plants with Neptune’s Harvest hydrolyzed fish fertilizer after setting them out.

brassica bed

These plants were about the same size as the kohlrabi, with two to three true leaves and a well-developed but not rootbound root system. I will come back and mulch these in a few days.

brassica seedling

I hope you have enjoyed this update on my planting activities. For more detailed timing information please see my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule.

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