After all that talk of late blight last week, it’s hard to imagine who could possibly be having a good gardening season. Despite all of the gloom and doom, however, some people have enjoyed these wet growing conditions.
For caulisophiles, as I like to call them (a term I’ve coined for people who have a deep affinity for vegetables in the brassicacea family like collards, kale, cabbage, and broccoli), it’s actually been a great season. Plants like these thrive in cool, wet conditions, as long as the slugs and cabbage worms are kept at bay.
For people who love all things cabbage, this soggy summer has provided not only had a bountiful harvest, but a beautiful garden to boot. One community gardener I know had a kale plant that grew nearly three feet tall! This plant, of the Redbor variety, has rich green leaves with streaks of deep purple and red. It not only looks beautiful, it also tastes delicious sautéed in some olive oil and dressed with either fresh tomatoes or — in the case of this season — a little lemon juice and some peas.
Kale and collards are also among the easiest of all vegetables to grow. They are hardy, provide a continuous harvest, and withstand both hot and cold conditions. A gardener who plants kale in the spring will have a harvest all the way into the fall, if they do it properly.
Even more exciting is that plants like kale and collards are biennials, putting up their flower or seed stalks in their second season of growth. So, come springtime, when most gardeners are waiting around for the last frost before getting their seedlings in the ground, a gardener who left kale or collards to winter over will find an early harvest waiting for them.
So next season, when planning your garden, remember the brassicacea family. Including a few hardy plants like kale and collards will ensure that you’ll still enjoy a harvest, even if blight visits again.
And, as you plan next summer’s garden, here are a few more parting tips on blight prevention:
– Rotate your crops — Never plant tomatoes and potatoes in the same spots as the year before.
– Grow your own from seeds — Gardeners who grew their own seedlings had a much lower rate of blight this year than those who purchase seedlings elsewhere.
– Buy local — If you are buying seedlings from a store, try to purchase them from a local farmer or small independently-owned greenhouse.
– Mix it up — Try planting different varieties of tomatoes and potatoes, including ones proven to show resistance and some heirloom varieties.
– Feed you soil — Be sure to build your soil up with organic matter; a healthy soil is always one step closer to growing healthy disease resistant plants.
Until next time, keep growin’!