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November 7th, 2012

122 Slugs and Counting

DebbieLeungThere was a break in the rain today, so I had to get out into the garden. It was gray, dry or lightly misting, and warm (about 60 degrees). First, there were lots of slugs, the little kind—there had to have been over a hundred that I “dealt” with. Many were on the Portuguese kale. What is amazing about this “kale” is that they are making giant heads, about 8 to 10 inches across! I’m going to wait for a good frost to sweeten them up before harvesting.

Portuguese kale, or "tronchuda beira," from Renee's Garden

Portuguese kale, or "tronchuda beira," from Renee's Garden

Remember the giant kohlrabi from last year, ‘Superschmelz’? I’ve been letting them get really big to really test them and thought I’d bring one in today for lunch. It wasn’t very pretty, but it was a good 8 inches in diameter and very heavy. I cut off a wedge, peeled it and it was fabulous! Sweet, crunchy, and not woody. It’ll take a while to eat it all!

'Yellowstone' carrot, 'Jester' acorn squash, and 'Chersonskaya' winter squash

'Yellowstone' carrot, 'Jester' acorn squash, and 'Chersonskaya' winter squash

Two weeks ago, I pulled another ‘Yellowstone’ carrot from a mid-April sowing for a stew. It just keeps getting bigger! Here’s a picture of it with the ‘Jester’ acorn squash, both surrounded by the ‘Chersonskaya’ winter squash. Haven’t tasted the squash yet. Beautiful, but I’m disappointed by the yield of both varieties.

While finishing up fall chores in the garden after lunch, I noticed more slugs! This time I counted: 122.  —Debbie Leung, Olympia, Washington

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September 4th, 2012

Slug Patrol

DebbieLeung It’s still warm enough to wear T-shirts, but it is definitely fall here in Olympia. Mornings are chilly and days are in the 70s. You can feel it in the air and see it in the light. Days are getting shorter. I could use a bit more summer!

Last week I thought I’d start slug patrol again since another planting of lettuce seedlings got devoured. I found hundreds of those pesky little slugs. Then I started counting. Yesterday there were 61; today 58. Most were on the Portuguese kale and ‘Little Jade’ Napa cabbage (the fall crop that is growing very quickly), followed by ‘Ozette’ potatoes and kohlrabi. I also found some on arugula, beans, and peppers.

A brief report on some of this year’s trial varieties: ‘Black Cherry’ tomato is starting to ripen and taste quite fine. ‘Indigo Rose’ tomato plants are still filled with large cherry tomato-sized shiny black balls. I let a Portuguese kale grow without harvesting its leaves, and it’s starting to form a head! Got small ‘Purple Peacock’ broccoli heads, one off each plant, and the side shoots are quite slow in coming. ‘Jester’ acorn squash is putting on squash and they look beautiful. I had high hopes for the ‘Chersonskaya’ winter squash, which were starting to make a number of squashes, but they look like they probably didn’t get pollinated—they’re drying up while only a couple inches across.

'Yellowstone' carrots from Fedco Seeds

'Yellowstone' carrots from Fedco Seeds

Here’s a picture of the ‘Yellowstone’ carrots. They look great but don’t taste so great fresh; it’s a good carrot to cook with. The ‘Atomic Red’ carrots are about an inch tall. I’m growing them for the winter season.  —Debbie Leung, Olympia, Washington

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November 10th, 2011

Colorful Kale

DebbieLeungHow is fall in everyone’s garden? The ornamental kale I’m trialing—’Glamour Red’, an All-America Selections winner for 2011—is gorgeous. Is anyone doing anything with it other than admiring it—like eating it? Here it is next to the little viola ‘Shangri-La Marina’ we also tested.  —Debbie Leung, Olympia, Washington

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August 8th, 2011

Broccoli in a Northwestern “Summer”

DebbieLeungThe ‘Piracicaba’ broccoli I’m growing in our variety trials is heading up! The one shown below is a bit loose, but it sure made a pretty sight in the garden. Tasted quite yummy, too! Notice the side shoots. If it keeps on pumping out side shoots, I’ll be quite happy. ‘Toscano’ kale is behind it. I found it a bit chewy; I personally like the more delicate kales (the Russians) better, but the others I served it to liked it a lot.

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With so many of you suffering from the heat, I hate to complain about our cool, gray days, which the weather people are saying have set records and may be a new pattern as the continent heats up. The Seattle Times had a column a couple weeks ago counting summer as when it is over 80 degrees and at that time, counted only something like 78 minutes of summer! Since then we’ve had a couple more minutes, but still…

The lime basil germinated promptly, then succumbed—too cool to sustain growth (my hunch as to what happened to the ‘Galeux D’Eysines’ winter squash as well). —Debbie Leung, Olympia, Washington

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April 11th, 2011

My Favorite Greens

It will be a while before test varieties and other spring greens I sowed a while back will be ready to eat, but…

image006You know those sprouts that kind of look like broccoli at the top of the kale that lived through the winter? I think those are my favorite greens. Probably it’s because I haven’t had fresh greens from the garden for a while, and also because they don’t take any work. They just happen. And they do taste good. It’s a shame that many gardeners don’t eat them, or keep their kale (and other brassicas) around so they can enjoy these first spring greens.

We had a really cold winter, so not many of my kale plants survived. Enough did, though, to get quite a handful of sprouts today (which a farmer friend once called “spring broccoli”). The flower buds were just starting to form and were still deep inside the bushy young leaves. The stalks were very tender and I could just pluck them off. Later, there will be so many of these I won’t be able to keep up and they’ll become a big bush of kale blossoms. And I’ll be gorging myself on my next favorite greens.  —Debbie Leung, Olympia, Washington

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