Take one kale plant, overwinter it in hoop house – kale is a biennial. In Spring let it flower and go to seed.
Cut it down when leaves start getting brown, hang upside down to dry for months.
When plant is fully dry and pods are almost bursting, stick the entire plant into a pillowcase. Whack.
Take a peek.
Using a strainer, separate seeds from the chaff – which smells wonderful.
Marvel at the thousands of seeds from just one plant. Store for sowing in a few months and distributing among friends.
Russian Kale seeds. Who wants some?
This is one more long update. Life is so full it’s tough to find a moment to sit and write it all down. But here goes…
Home-grown salads are a common fare nowadays: lettuce mix, beet “greens,” cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic scape dressing. I could throw in bell peppers too, but I’m letting them mature to red – one (from an overwintered plant) is getting really close. We are also harvesting lots of tomatoes and green beans.
I took down all my favas. I had high hopes because the pods were so fat. But a 4′ by 2′ bed with about 20 plants yielded only 6.1 oz. de-podded and peeled favas: enough for one small appetizer!
I won’t be growing favas anymore, however delicious, and however interesting. The following photo shows the mycorrhizal nodules on the roots of the plants when I pulled them (there were a few more blossoms, but the leaves and developed pods were developing a black spot).
Most of my brassicas bolted. Neat, a bolted cauliflower:
It’s like a space ship. I’m keeping it to see what happens next.
We’re also eating the scrumptious husk cherries, and we’re comsuming two gallons of mint ice tea (mixed mints) with honey a day. Then there are all the other culinary herbs, of which we use some immediately and dry the bulk. I’ll write about our drying setup soon – it’s our next big project.
I’ve also harvested quite a bit of propolis and wax comb from the hive, which is doing well. The top broodbox is heavy with honey. I put on the first honey super two weeks ago, with a queen excluder. The excluder is a grate through which only the worker bees can pass. We put these between the broodboxes and the honey supers to keep the queen from laying eggs in the honey harvest. However, after 2 weeks the bees had drawn out no comb whatsoever, confirmation that they might be reluctant to do anything in there because of the lack of queen pheromone. So I removed the excluder for now, and will see what happens.
propolis and wax
As for the house, DH, my nephew and I put down a wooden floor on concrete footings in our previously dirt floor shed. The idea is to put up insulation and drywall and two large doors and it can be an almost-year-round woodworking shop. It’s great to have the table saw and lathe out of the porch. Getting all the stuff that was in there before back in, in an organized way, was my biggest challenge. You know how you end up with boxes and boxes of odds and ends…
And last but not least, we’ve also added one more member to the family: Amie’s grandmother has arrived from Singapore. This means lots of art is being made, about which later. And yummy Indian food! So we’re five now: three adults, one teenager, one kindergartner. I do love having a full house!
Amie and I went to visit our new friends of the Freecycle comfrey, L and S, last week. Their raspberry garden was bursting with plump juicy berries. L helped Amie pick, she is so good with young kids. Amie was in seventh heaven, practically yelling with the fun of it. I chatted and picked and in less than 40 minutes we had gathered one pound and seven ounces. Later at Whole Foods I saw 6 ounces of organic raspberries for sale at $6. Wow. So:
raspberries from friends: 2 lbs (from two pickings)
We also picked our first strawberries. There are more ripening, I think in the end we’ll have about 100 berries. Amie again had a blast picking them after we removed the net.
strawberries: 3 oz.
We’re getting a good daily harvest of green beans every day now, from one 4×8 bed of Provider and Maxibel:
green beans: 1 lb 1 oz
I had to pull some pea vines because the chipmunks uprooted them. Still, incredibly – we hit 100 F yesterday – the remaining peas are still producing pods and even flowers.
peas (mix): 1 lb. 8 oz.
At the moment they’re straggling in one at a time, but the first big batch of tomatoes is on the verge of ripening and soon though there will be too many to eat day by day. Better get that solar dehydrator built.
tomatoes: 2.2 oz
cherry tomatoes: 6
radishes: 4 edible ones (1 really good one)
garlic scapes: 10 (made them into Daphne’s salad dressin: delicious!)
garlic: 8 bulbs for eating, 8 for sowing
cauliflower: 1 tiny one, the rest bolted
carrots: 3 ounces of the baby kind, and a big bunch of green leaves that went into soup.
comfrey: 1 stuffed bucket for compost, though it looks like I should harvest it for skin salves.
The fava beans are in the pipeline, they are huge and kinda grotesque, but I’m waiting for a chance to make some Fool Mudamas to pick them. The onions have all fallen over and they are looking fat and juicy. I’ll be able to pull them soon as well, adding yet another empty bed. Time to plant Fall and Winter crops. Maybe the brassicas will do better in the Fall this year – all my brassicas, but (so far) the Brussels Sprouts, bolted.
The borage is in bloom and the bees just love it. At my last inspection I found my queen – I thought she had been superseded. I tall looked well enough for the first honey super to be added on. If we have some honey I will be happy, because local honey can help Amie’s respiratory trouble which – we think – is due to allergies to pollen. And how local can honey get!
My nephew from Belgium arrived last Monday and he will be staying here for a month. He’s a strong and friendly thirteen-year-old who can help a lot around the house and garden, and he and Amie get along so well. He’s a teenager but he can still play. What a boon it is to have him here.
No, really. I already harvested carrots. Well, Amie harvested them:
No doubt you’ve noticed that these are baby carrots. Baby carrots. I had let that bed go to weeds, and when pulling said weeds today found that carrots have much less purchase on the soil than weeds do, and they too came up. So after weeding I called Amie over and she had a ball pulling the carrots (3 ounces of them, without greens), and then eating them. Crunch crunch. Delicious! The greens went into the vegetable soup.
I also harvested my garlic. I know this sounds too early too, but they were ready, many of them already browned and fallen over. Considering how well they were doing a month ago I had expected a larger harvest.
As you can see, the bulbs on the side of the tray- a softneck kind – are smaller and/or they mostly lacked the outer skin that protects the bulbs. Maybe I harvested these too late? They’re still good, and I’ll use them in cooking over the next few days. The bigger ones – all hardnecks, the scapes of which were delicious – are just fine, and I’m curing those in my warm, drafty, dark attic.
They make for 8 x 10 cloves – give or take a couple. That’s enough for planting next September.