Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Kohlrabi and Kale

My winter vegetable garden isn't quite flourishing like it did last year. Even last year's ice storm didn't halt the onslaught of veggies. I forced bags and bags of arugula onto unsuspecting friends, slipped chard pesto, which tasted strangely like mushroom pesto, onto my husband's pasta, and finally said no, mas to the kale and used it to jumpstart my compost pile. I had so many salad greens that I had a dinner party just to rid of them.

This year's garden is limping along. I was talking with several vegetable gardeners the other night, and all seemed to have the same problem. I know I planted a bit later than last year; early November as opposed to early October. I also direct seeded more vegetables into the garden bed, rather than growing them inside and transplanting them.

But I'm not sure why everyone else was having difficulties. One friend suggested it was because we had much more rain last winter season than this year. Could that really explain the huge difference? Or is it because we've had more freezes, albeit lighter ones without ice?

Nevertheless, I do have a few things getting close to harvest. The kohlrabi is ready, I think. I got these transplants as leftovers from a fall planting project. I've never eaten or grown kohlrabi before but thought it would be fun to try.

The question now is how to cook them. A friend said cook them as you would cook turnips. Well, I'm not sure I've ever cooked turnips either. So I guess I am off to find some recipes. In the meantime, they are awfully pretty to look at.

My kale is finally getting bigger enough to start harvesting. I prefer the dinosaur kale to this curly kale, but the dinosaur didn't make it.

We've been eating the Rocky Top salad mix from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds are a little while now. I like the mixture even though my husband is a little leary of it now. A couple of weeks ago I harvested some in the dark, with my trusty head lamp, threw the greens into the salad spinner, raised them, and tossed them for a quick salad. The mix has a variety of colors, and I was in a hurry so I maybe didn't scour the greens as carefully as I should have.

After my husband ate his second dried pecan leaf in his salad, he said he'd had enough.

Out of about 100 onion seeds planted, here is the only one that grew, the loneliest one. I did have one more, but my husband mistook it for a weed and pulled it. I've been a bit hesitant to take him up on his offers to help in the garden since then. Now that I think about it, maybe that was his plan.

Off to plant some more beet seeds.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

From Brown to Greenish

After lurking on many Austin gardening blogs for quite a while now, I've decided it's time to start my own. My hesitancy stems from the fact that well, I'm not really a gardener. I'm still a wannabe. Until three years ago, I killed every plant within a 10-foot-radius, even those that experts claimed couldn't be killed.

Pothos ivy, peace lily, cactus, airplants.

I lived in an apartment and blamed the plants' deaths of the hot concrete deck where they lived. When I moved into a house, I thought all would change. I asked advice of a friend who claimed she knew plants. (It turns out she knew plants but only those that thrived in Colorado.)

I killed pittosporum, portulaca, and pansies. I felt so bad about the pansies because they had bloomed so well over the winter and then died. I didn't know that's what they did.

So for several years, I didn't attempt to grow anything. I avoided the garden section of the home improvement stores because it was really just a walk of shame, "Killed that, and that, and that. . . ." Well, you get the picture.

Finally, about two and a half years ago, I decided my lifeless yard was beyond depressing, and that I could grow plants if I just learned how to.

To various degrees, it has worked. I'm much more successful with vegetables than ornamentals because that's where I started. Of course, I still have a lot to learn but that's the fun part of gardening.

I'm hoping to improve the ornamental situation soon and hope this blog will chronicle that experience.

Here's a picture from my first vegetable bed in November 2005. The far half is planted in winter vegetables, the near part in a mix of compost crops--hairy vetch, rye, and fava beans. I think I've become a better gardener , but I know I've become a better photographer.