Friday, January 11, 2008

A Winter Garden

Returning home after 4 weeks in South India's hot climate (at least in the lowlands) found frost effects on plants in our garden. The garden sage leaves are droopy, the radicchio has been zapped, but the winter salad mix is thriving in one of the flats. The Tuscan kale looks good, as do the ornamental kales. One of the types that I snagged at a local big box store (all I could find at the time) with the pale green leaves and white center is not so pleasing --but the rosy pink ones are OK. The violas look great, lovely blue and purple flowers that brighten the landscape.

The saved mail has lots of seed and plant catalogs to peruse; the first order of business is to get fresh seeds for late winter plantings of greens, broccolini, mache, and lettuce, as well as ordering seed potatoes and onion sets. The garlic is hopefully enjoying the bit of winter rain that we've had; the drought is still with us, but perhaps we'll have enough rain to recharge the top layers of soil for planting and give trees and shrubs a welcome respite from the drought of summer and fall.


  1. Any tips on growing Tuscan Kale in the Upstate? Yours look great. My half-dozen I started from seed and transplanted (rather late due to our hot fall) into my full-sun raised beds (amended with compost) have produced some, but grown very slowly and are now pretty much stubs because I've harvested just about all of those tasty leaves I could without killing the plants.
    I've been covering them on our coldest nights lately too but there's still a little cold burn. I'm wondering if I should rip 'em out and try to start new ones for the spring or give them a dose of fish fertilizer and see what happens. If I do new starts, I'm afraid I'll risk running up on weather too warm for them again. And like me, the cabbage worms seem to think they are best tasting plants in the garden. Great trap crop for broccoli-- although I certainly didn't intend that.

    A friend in another 7b location says her Tuscan kale never grows or is as productive as the others. It is special.

    Any tips appreciated. Happy to find your blog. I'm trying to garden organically in a vinyl village in Taylors.

  2. cen--
    I think your Tuscan kale will rebound just fine as it warms up more. Giving them a shot of fish emulsion should help too. The big plants in my photos are from later in the spring; most of mine currently are quite small. It certainly wouldn't hurt to sow more seed and start new plants, too. My Tuscan kale usually does fine through early June (they're not prone to bolt like many other crucifers, happily), but the leaves start being yummed up by the cabbage white caterpillars in late May!

    Siberian kale and Red Russian kale are nice, too, but I agree -- Tuscan kale is great.

    Have fun with your vegetable garden!


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