4/8/10

The Height of Gardening Season

Yes, it is the height of the season - for my spinach and kale anyway. These nutrition-packed leafy veggies are cold-weather crops, and I am surprised that so many gardeners don't take advantage of winter gardening. There are few weeds, just about no bugs, no scorching sun, and the crops grow slowly so the harvest is not overwhelming. Since leafy veggies don't need pollinating to produce fruit, it's no problem that the bees are dormant.
I scatter my spinach and kale seeds directly in the garden at the end of the intense summer heat... they won't germinate if it is too hot. I've read that the seeds germinate better if placed in the freezer for 5 days. Last year I sowed spinach seeds in August and nothing came up, since it was too hot. So in September I spread even more spinach seeds, spread them closer than the month before, and every one of them came up... I ended up with over 100 spinach plants! Once I harvested the rest of the summer vegetables, I had space to thin the seedlings and transplant spinach over a big area of the garden. Ditto with the kale. I've been enjoying the harvest since then, and now that spring has arrived the plants are really thriving. I've been picking two pounds of leaves at a time, eating fresh spinach in salads, kale in soups, and blanching chopped leaves and freezing them. I'll let you know when I plant my cold-weather greens early next fall, and I encourage you to try it. By the way, it is sometimes hard to find seeds at the end of the summer, so buy them now and store them where it is cool and dry until planting time. Then you'll be ready!