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Winter Gardening

wintergardenHey, folks – welcome to February!! Up here at Chez Siberia, it’s doing its usual February thing, which means that from day to day, the morning temperature can range from minus 11 F. (which is -24C for folks across the pond) to 16 degrees F this morning (-9C). To say this sort of weather whiplash can be tough on plants is to put it mildly. As you can see from the photo, the garden at Chez Siberia is firmly under snow (though the depth is only 4-6 inches, really), and we’ve got (groundhogs notwithstanding) at least 6 weeks of snow and cold in front of us. If we get a break in March (which the long-range weather folk say we will), I’ll be able to shovel off a couple of beds in the garden, cover them with glass or clear plastic and warm them up enough (soil temps to 50 degrees F are plenty) to sow seeds from lettuce, beets, chard, and anything from the cabbage family. (more…)

End of the season?

novgarden2 And a good, good day to everyone, wherever you are. This has been a very busy week in the garden for the DH and your Aunty. Not for choice necessarily, but sometimes you have to get things done before the weather gets colder, or rainier or something else (yes, what is on that kale is SNOW – it was 27 degrees F this morning. I think we can safely say that winter is coming).

The big job that had to be taken care of was the arrival of the replacement fruit trees. Yes. Replacement. Not addition. Replacement, as in ‘Dear Sir, the fruit trees x.y.z etc. that I ordered from you did not grow. As a matter of fact, they died. Toes up. Kicked the bucket. Gone to meet their maker. Please send replacements. Respectfully…” It happens, and if you don’t know this first thing in the spring (which most people don’t because you are waiting, hopefully, that the damned things will leaf out and oh, joy!!

Only these ones did not. (more…)

Kale, Kale – The Gang’s All Here

Confession Time: Aunt Toby has tried…Lord knows I have tried… to like kale. Kale is one of those veggies that everyone writes glowingly about. It’s great stuff, full of B-everything, anti-inflammatory as all get out. Everyone should eat a boat-load and so on.

I have never, until this past weekend, made a kale dish that made anyone in the fam roll their eyes and make yummy noises. I admit it. I have always tried to be a good role model and would put it into my mouth and chew appreciatively. And I hated every bite. (more…)

Kale, Kale, The Gang’s All Here

I feel that as a public service, I have to tell you something: Sometimes, you just have to do things because they are good for you. You may learn to like them later.

That is the way it is with kale. Just eat it. Find a way to eat it that works for you, but eat it. The nutritional benefits of this vegetable are just so huge; if you can’t bring yourself to eat any other green veggie or leafy green, eat kale. (no, I am not on the payroll of the American Kale Conference or the National Kale Board or whatever lobbying group they have; as a matter of fact, that might be part of the problem. I don’t think anyone is actually doing PR for the vegetable)

OK. Housekeeping. What IS kale?
Kale is a member of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group) and because it’s leaves do not form a head, it is considered to be closer to the ancestors of cabbage than any other member of the family.
In its current state of development (you can get flat and curly leafed varieties), this is a vegetable which has been around for thousands of years and is documented as being eaten by Romans in the 4th Century B.C.

Advantages of Kale
If you are a gardener in the northern part of the US, kale is something that you can start early, eat all summer, keep into the fall and even eat after it’s gotten a hard frost. As a matter of fact, the sugars in the plant actually are accentuated by frost, so this is an advantage in terms of having a fresh veggie out of the garden after everything else has seemingly been killed off. . . .

Kale freezes well. Kale will keep under the snow. I have dug up kale for dinners in January out of the snow. It is firm, green, crunchy and juicy. During the winter, when getting fresh veggies (except for those being trucked in from places like Florida, California and Texas) can be iffy, having kale out in the ‘deep freeze’ is definitely worth it. (more…)

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