A good rule of thumb for winter edibles is to have your vegetables large enough for harvest by mid-December, which I achieved with some of my plantings. Carrots, beets and kohlrabi are ready anytime.
The goal is to use the garden as an outdoor refrigerator, planting crops that will store well in situ and can be harvested as needed. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale are on that list.
With leafy greens, I have some ready now, and some smaller plants under good protection that will hopefully give me a very early harvest when the days begin to get noticeably longer a month from now, well after the solstice.
Here are some images of my garden right now.
In my last post, at the height of a summer hot spell, I thought it would be fun to say “Winter Begins Now” and show the garden with snow on it. Well, the heat has abated, and I’m not in any hurry to slip out of summer mode. However, I am still pushing forward on fall planting.
The Japanese turnips — first sowing July 15, second sowing July 27 — are coming along.
A sowing of beets was less successful, as I had some three-year-old seed. But some of them sprouted, as did a nice row of Rainbow chard.
The first sowing of Brussels sprouts got potted up to 4-inch pots about 10 days ago, so they were ready to be planted out. The second batch is still in pots.
So today I sowed in some more beets, transplanted those Brussels sprouts, sowed two rows of Black Spanish radish and two rows of overwintering red onion.
I covered all the crops except the onions with hoops and floating row cover. This helps shade them a bit if we get another heat wave, but I did it more to keep the pests off the young plants. The white cabbage moth can lay a lot of eggs and wreak havoc on brassicas, and the spinach leaf miner loves to attack the young beets and chard. (Soon I’ll plant fall and overwintering spinach, and will have to cover that too, to thwart the leaf miner.)
Here are some more images from today’s gardening:
One of the oddest vegetables in my garden is the kohlrabi. Its stem swells into a bulb that sits right on the ground in the manner of an onion, and its broad green leaves seem to sprout randomly from the bulb.
It’s member of the Brassica genus, as it seems all my best veggies are. Knowing that, compare it to Brussels sprouts, with their tiny cabbages popping out from under the edges of leaf nodes, and you can see a family resemblance. It’s the overgrown cousin, mutated a bit from inbreeding with other members of the cabbage clan back on the old home place in the holler.
Sometimes called “stem turnip,” a nod to another surprising Brassica, kohlrabi grows like others of its clan, faring best in cool weather. It’s a short-season crop, and you
can get young bulbs of some varieties in less than two months.
The one above was a bit forgotten in my garden, and grew to softball size before I yanked it out. Still, the greens were tender enough (yes, you can eat them as well as the bulb) and the crisp, purple-tinged bulb served as the centerpiece of a generous stir-fry meal.
Younger, tender bulbs can be shaved for ‘rabi-slaw, one of my favorite ways to eat it, with a honey-poppyseed dressing. Sliced and sauteed is also fine. Basically, use it in any way that you’d use a cabbage.
This spring I bought a few
starts at a nursery of this purple-bulbed variety, and when I planted them I also sowed seeds of a green variety. You also can find white kohlrabi. That dual planting allowed me a longer harvest, a technique I often recommend.
Now that we’re eating the spring crop, it’s time to plant another batch for late fall use. As with many Brassicas (kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, turnips), mutliple sowings throughout the year can yield a lot of excellent food in a Maritime Northwest garden.