So, it's getting warm, and we're expecting a drought. Lettuce doesn't like either of those things. So I'm trying to grow salad greens that aren't lettuce. Or spinach. Or mache. Or arugula. Or any of those other things that have the phrase "cool season" on their seed packets. So I'm trying other things. I don't know if anyone but me cares, but, hey, let's write!
I bought a six-pack of...er...Bright Lights? chard at the Grange. I wasn't ready for it, so it sat around and sat around, and then I planted six plants of it in six poorly-prepared holes. Not six of the little six-pack cubes; there were at least two plants per cube, so I ripped the poor things apart. Then I treated the space as dryfarm, not watering it after the first couple of days, and waited for them to die.
They sat still, but remained barely green-and-red, for a few weeks. Then they abruptly put out new leaves and said, "Pbbbbblt!" So I planted another six, because it was a twelve-plant block and the rest of the six-pack was making me feel guilty. They put out new leaves, too. That block is one of the happiest looking in the farm.
So chard appears to tolerate the dryfarm thing very nicely. I just hope I like how it tastes in a salad.
I planted some Red Russian Kale in December, then transplanted two of the plants to a three-foot spacing in April and treated them only fractionally better than the chard. They're healthy happy little fountains of leaves now, despite the cabbage moths circling them, and their seedling bed is essentially a solid block of kale leaves. Unfortunately, none of the leaves are a suitable texture for salad.
So I sent off for Bear Necessities kale, which supposedly produces "finely serrated frilly kale with a tender texture" that should work in salads. We'll see.
But what to do with the Red Russian? I would swear that I remember enjoying some kale cooked with butter and onions, but I did that to this kale, and it was...eh. I'd eat it for manners, but I wouldn't choose it. I could keep it around until it bolts and eat the...raab? Rapini? but I think I'd have to wait until next spring. I'll wait and see what happens with the few square feet of the seedling bed, anyway.
Beet greens are supposed to work in salads, so I'm going to try to grow Shiraz and Bull's Blood. However, if I don't like chard I'm not likely to like beet greens, and vice versa. They're family.
I do like beets, though. It's not as if leaves are the only thing you can put in a salad. Really, it would be sensible for me to make my hot-weather salads out of cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, beets, and such. But I need leaves. I was raised on Iceberg; my flexibility has its limits.
I'm planting some scorzonera, aka black salsify, for the cold weather lettuce gap, not the hot weather one. Supposedly the salsify roots put out green leaves in winter, leaves suitable for salad. It occurs to me that I read about this in Carol Deppe's book and that she was doing breeding work at the time; I should see if she released anything. Edited to add: Anything salsify-like, that is. She's released lots of things.
Speaking of Carol Deppe, her latest book refers to Oregon Giant Sugar Pod Peas in the "eat-all greens" section. It appears that you can grow this for pea tendrils, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. And that you can grow it in the summer. I ordered half a pound of seed, to play.
I've been curious about shungiku, a chrysanthemum grown for its leaves, for a while, and "salad" and "plant until summer" finally decided me. We're not far from summer, but I'll give it a try.
Unfortunately the other Asian greens that I ordered--an unnamed Komatsuna, Green Wave mustard, "Misome Hybrid", and Luck Dragon Pak Choi--all refer to cool temperatures. Grumble.
And I forgot to order leaf radishes. Or I couldn't find them.
I should also grow some nasturtiums; I know how to grow those and have a faint memory of how they taste.
That is all.
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