Posts Tagged ‘Sea Kale’

Today’s Beauty





Garden Firsts: Columbine, Iris, Sea Kale, Rhododendron, Roses, and the Portable 2017 Garden


Stunning columbines this year! It is crazy windy today, so some of these photos aren’t as clear as I’d like. Too pretty to keep to myself, though. 🙂


Flowering sea kale, is an edible perennial that looks good all season. Even better, you can eat every single part from roots to shoots to leaves to buds to flowers:


The first of many varieties Continue reading

How to Eat Sea Kale

I’ve got lots of photos for a Garden Update, but I’ve been too busy working in the garden to blog about it! Our friend Jerry was helping install some things for us today, and looking at the backyard and sweeping his arm out, he commented, “This is the terrestrial equivalent of beach front property.” Minutes later the train went by and deafened us with its supposedly no longer allowed horn. “And that would be our fog horn,” I laughed. 😉 Until that quiet zone takes effect, it always reminds me of Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins.

Anyway, while I get caught up on cardboard boxes, wood mulch, and the still arriving bulbs and perennials, David and I have been loving our sea kale. We very much enjoy the leaves sauteed in a cast iron skillet with Egyptian walking onions and then served over quinoa — so much so that we’ve not even tried the broccoli like flowers. This plant is almost too pretty to eat, except if I don’t harvest it, then it shades out my lilies, squash and Veronica. So eat it we do! For those unfamiliar with sea kale, here’s a great article detailing all the many ways you can eat it from raw to cooked, any and all parts. If you grow nothing else, this perennial veggie will reward you with lots of food before late spring and summer greens really get rolling. Enjoy the article!

Chives, sea kale, elecampane, grape vine and the beginnings of good bug mix flowers.

Chives, sea kale, elecampane, grape vine and the beginnings of good bug mix flowers.

Spring Garden Update

I’ve been busy with sessions and super busy in the garden due to a “mistake” by the Arbor Day Foundation. Actually, I suspect it was faery magick, since I’ve been wracking my brain for a non-invasive partial shade friendly garden hedge. Instead of shipping me my mock sweet orange, groundcover juniper and hazelnut shrubs, Arbor Day sent me 30 North Privet hedge shrubs, 2 forsythias and a maple sapling. At first, I felt a little upset, but once I researched North Privet, I began to suspect my faery garden landscaper — seriously, a faery who works out the designs of this place whenever I feel stuck. 😉  I had just asked for some assistance again and whammo! All my prior plant and tree orders suddenly morphed. Anyway, I contacted Arbor Day Foundation, and they said to keep the hedge and that they’d send my correct order soon.

Thank you, but it also meant digging a 24 foot and then another 6 foot trench in which to plant these babies:

North Privet is a non-invasive hybrid species of privet, which can grow 12-15 feet tall, perfect for shielding out the next door apartments.

North Privet is a non-invasive hybrid species of privet, which can grow 12-15 feet tall, perfect for shielding out the next door apartments.

I also planted some on either side of our trellised grape vine in my neverending vertical garden quest to remove the view of the next-nextdoor neighbors’ garage roof. Our immediately nextdoor neighbors asked me to plant the maple in front of the garage for the same reason. We’re all hoping this tree will take off and provide coverage over that eyesore. The nextdoor neighbors also got one transplanted paw paw tree from our yard, and will soon receive the companion pollinator, once I have time to dig and replant. They’re excited for trees!

Given that the hedge and tree transplants occurred in the same week as a rose hedge arrived for the front yard, plus sedum ground cover for near the driveway, last week became a crazed planting frenzy in which phone sessions felt like a heavenly rest from digging. If I had known to prepare the soil in each spot, the digging would have gone faster, but this was hard, weedy ground. I’m still tired! For the first year, we’ll need to keep the hedge low, so it gets bushy, but come next year, I’ll be grateful for all that hard work when the magical cocoon of our yard shields out yet more of the non-magical surroundings.

At least we had some good food from the yard, though. In addition to loads of dandelion roots harvested, cleaned, chopped and frozen in preparation for a big roasting project on a cold day, we’ve got lots of fresh greens and various onions and chives, plus leftover dried tomatoes from last year. Greek salad to the rescue!

Garden fresh (and dried) produce for a Greek salad

Garden fresh (and dried) produce for a Greek salad

On Saturday, we had a brilliantly sunny, warm day as I worked in the garden, visited with our landlord and neighbors and prepped food for our evening Beltane celebration — all at the same time, thanks to the Sun Oven:

sun oven on Beltane

You can see the Sun Oven warming up above, near the newly created brick bed by a trellis that will show off the sweet potatoes, which look like morning glories. (The stone bed has row cover on it, so squirrels don’t dig up my flower transplants.) That Sun Oven rocks! On Saturday, I made moist, delicious falafel patties, as well as quinoa for a wheat free tabouli:

one of three simultaneously cooked trays of Sun Oven falafel

one of three simultaneously cooked trays of Sun Oven falafel

Sun Oven quinoa tastes amazing!

Sun Oven quinoa tastes amazing!

Thankfully, it’s flower season again in our yard, so we had some nice daffodils for the Beltane altar, as well as some bouquets for David’s mom and our friend who just had her baby:


We’ve also got some dandy violets in our back”yard” :

dandy violets

Out front, you can see the dwarf Korean lilac getting ready to bloom among friends, along with some newly cut ash logs near the garage, which will eventually house shitake mushroom dowels if they ever arrive. Yes, another plant/tree/shroom shipping mixup. You need to inoculate logs within two weeks of cutting, so I’ll just have to hope the shrooms arrive sometime within that period. Otherwise, I guess it will be hugelkulture time!

lilac, grape hyacinths, daffodils and tulips

lilac, grape hyacinths, daffodils and tulips

Our Garden Tower got an early start this year. Instead of plucking out and eating excess seedlings, I put the tiniest ones into the Garden Tower to see if they’d grow. It took awhile for them to establish sizable roots, but they’ve all started growing. I keep them covered at night and during high winds:

zinnias, flamingo and red rhubarb chard, lacinato kale, fava beans, peas, and tiny lettuce sprouts up top

zinnias, flamingo and red rhubarb chard, lacinato kale, fava beans, peas, and tiny lettuce sprouts up top

Mr. Meyer Lemon finally got to go outside, as our frosty nights waned. He likes the sun, but calling him recovered would be quite the optimistic spin. I think he’ll live, though. He just got some amendments of green sand, which supposedly saves everything, as well as comfrey leaves and worm castings.

Meyer lemon recovering in sun

Out back, I planted seed potatoes in various grow bags. The green ones I ordered last year. The burlap came courtesy of my garden coffee supplier, who owns the Electric Brew in Goshen. He brings me bags and bags of coffee grounds, which provide NPK in a ratio most plants can use right away. You need to mix it in with the soil, though, and acidic plants seem to enjoy the grounds more. They’re pH neutral, but some plants like them better than others. Blueberries and roses especially love them. I’m hoping the burlap bag works well, because I have several more in the garage. I needed to donate a bunch of seed potatoes to Redtail Farm Community Garden, because I over-ordered for the number of bags I had. Oops! Now that I have more bags, I might see if I can find anymore potatoes to plant from around here.

potatoes in bags

Although I tend to have excellent luck growing from seeds, I’m getting more and more interested in perennial vegetables that just pop up without any additional effort after the initial planting. I had ordered a rhubarb, which arrived looking terribly sad and sickly. I planted it in what I now suspect was formerly a black walnut area, and as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, a bird pooped on it! I tried to flush off the poop, but not before it burned the leaves with its nitrogen. I transplanted that rhubarb elsewhere, gave it all sorts of love and amendments, and it appears to be recovering. As synchronicity would have it, though, my across the alley neighbors offered me a free rhubarb plant on Saturday. I put this beauty under the grape vine trellis, where it will hopefully block out some of the thousands of dandelions trying to get in my garden beds:


I love having perennial vegetables green up in spring! Here’s sea kale leafing out next to Egyptian walking onions, garlic, and some annual cold season cover crop of peas and fava beans for nitrogen fixing:

cover crop and perennials

I just love perennials in general. One time planting, years of enjoyment. After all the hours yanking dandelions the past couple weeks, plus all the dozens of hours and layers of cardboard and wood mulch that proved no match for dandelions, I’m beginning to realize it’s all about out-planting them if I want any kind of diversity in this yard. Some are great, but do we really need ten thousand that each created ten thousand more? Um, no. Here we have rescued trillium with Jack in the Pulpit and fiddlehead ferns just peeking out in the rain:

trillium and ferns

Much, much more to come if my ordered plants ever arrive. An April 20th “ship date” was quite awhile ago, folks. Just sayin’. At least it gave me time to plant that hedge, though! Bonus with the North Privet? It attracts butterflies and birds, and you can form it into a topiary. I saved one for a front yard specimen (OK, saved isn’t the right word. Those things kept multiplying!) just in case David wants to get creative. 😉 Meanwhile, the garden has become its own community with neighbors, landlords, friends and dog walkers all stopping by to chat, admire and inquire. I’ve given free plant starts to people, received free seeds, have been asked to be on two garden tours, and have made new friends and deepened earlier connections.

Plus, it’s great therapy. Whenever I read about another assault on the Earth, I plant more flowers. Today’s Grand Canyon news story resulted in hardy gladiolus. Yesterday’s news brought ground cover day lilies to a backyard stump. The general ugliness of our street has brought an entire ecosystem to our yard and now spilling over into neighbors’ lots. As L.A.’s Ron Finley, the Gangster Gardener says, “Plant some shit!” And so I have … so I will.

Garden Update: Trellises, Flowers and Stacking Functions

backdoor gardening

Busy days here at Faery-Hof! This week focused on various trellising projects and acquiring an “instant” garden through my friend Kimber’s thinnings and castoffs. Yesterday, I got out some zip ties and quickly put together what I want to call a wabi sabi trellis for Malabar spinach, which will hide the apartment complex’s parking lot and afford us some backyard privacy:


The Malabar spinach supposedly grows fast, but it still has a ways to go before reaching the trellis:

malabar spinach

Also yesterday, Kimber — who is my garden’s favorite person this week — helped me re-trellis a grape vine that had begun to invade my peas:

grapes and peas

You can see the new trellis towards the right of the following photo, and the companion grape vine on the wooden fence. They haven’t produced grapes yet, but they seem happy, so we let them grow.

back gardens

I also needed to trellis one of my asparagus plants, which has grown taller than me! I got to practice a bean teepee style with bamboo poles:


Up front, we’ve got repurposed tomato cages holding up newly thinned irises, also from Kimber. She recommended I cut them all back before planting, but I couldn’t resist instant flowers. Our next door neighbor was so funny last night, asking with wide eyes if I had “just planted those or did they grow that fast overnight because of your recent fish treatment?” (Kimber arranged for our yards to have a very special treatment normally reserved for farms, and I had warned our neighbors that it would stink for a day or so. It does! Still. He thought it smelled “like the Lake.”) Anyway, the neighbors keep track of the garden now, and his wide eyed question still makes me giggle. Next year, they won’t have tomato cages, but you plant irises shallowly, and they couldn’t hold their own weight without the cages.


Another cool thing that came out of that conversation is that our neighbors offered to compost their food for use in the garden. He said they know nothing about composting, so they would like a list. Since they don’t eat exclusively organic food, I explained that I would probably build them a separate bin that I can use to compost weeds and to put the compost on flower beds. They’re excited to have some place to put food waste, since it forms the bulk of their trash. This really makes me smile, because a) I never have enough compost and b) it’s so cool that our neighbors are waking up to the world of compost! I gave them a small tomato plant for a porch garden this year, and I saw they had purchased some marigolds, too. The mom next door also, apparently, takes photos of our flowers and brings them in to show people at work.

I love how this garden — for all its insane amounts of work right now — is bringing neighbors together and keeping things out of the landfill. A neighbor up the street now plans to add wood mulch to a bed outside his house, and our wood mulch guy now has nine people on the delivery circuit for the mulch he used to need to pay to dump.

Finishing up the Kimber tribute from my garden, this sedum donation, divided into three, has finally begun to recover from transplant shock. I’ve now got three different types of sedum in the front yard and look forward to their fun forms. One of the sedums, not the one pictured below, will also serve as ground cover in the area killed off by a year of Mount Mulchmore.


In this front bed photo, you can see some recent perennials (Veronica) and various annuals procured on a Menard’s run with my friend Leah and her handy, dandy truck, which also hauled more compost (see why I am so happy about the neighbors?!), potting soil, and concrete slabs for our rain barrels. If you look closely, you can also see that our tiny lilac actually has a few blooms:

front bed

At the far north end of the front beds, I have been getting the greatest kick out of watching the long row of sunflowers follow the sun each day. This photo only shows about 1/3 of the length of that row:


The rose bush I planted in honor of Gramma Irene is blooming like crazy:

rose bush

When I was growing up, we had rhododendrons in our front yard, and they would always bloom on my birthday. Our landlord planted this one right before we moved in, and sure enough, the first buds began to open on the eve of my birthday. Today they look even more lovely:


Despite having all this growing space out front, I’m so glad I got a Garden Tower this year. Wood mulch robs nitrogen the first year, so there’s a noticeable difference in growth rate between greens planted out front and greens in the Garden Tower. As long as I have greens, melons and flowers, I don’t care which arrangement they come from, but I would be freaking out if the slow growth up front was all we had to look forward to this year. Look at how lush the Garden Tower plants already are!

Garden Tower growing well

In the backyard, I’ve really been stacking functions — sunflowers and trellises for food and privacy on both sides of the yard. I also have this 24 foot long trellis set up with mulch, cardboard, concrete block “planters,” and companion plants. (We still need to add the other two 8 foot long trellises.)

long trellis

It’s not the prettiest setup, but it will do several things at once:

1) Trellis tomatoes, watermelons, gourds and pumpkins

2) The red plastic mulch will keep moisture in, prevent weeds growing through the mulch, heat up the layers of leaf and wood mulch, newspaper and coffee underneath, and reflect a more productive spectrum of light back onto the tomatoes and curcubits for higher fruiting rates

3) The cardboard shuts out light to weeds in front of the plastic mulch, giving the plants a better competitive edge, as well as moist soil in front of the mulched beds, in case those get dry. It will eventually form the first layer of a lasagna garden bed I’ll make this fall.

4) The concrete blocks and plant pots hold down the cardboard, while also giving space for companion plantings of marigolds, calendula, borage, mint and bee balm. I lost all my squash to vine borers last year, so this year I am determined to attract the right predators and repel the damaging pests. At season’s end, I will dump the spent soil into the lasagna beds and use the concrete blocks to hold tarps around our cold frame for added protection. Then, next year, I’ll probably cardboard another area of “lawn,” since this area will be ready for more regular gardening.

I’ve also enjoyed stacked functions of perennial edible beauty, in particular, the sea kale:

flowering sea kale

Sea kale is so pretty and so tasty that I bought another two starts for the center front bed. Next year they’ll provide some gorgeous green and white flowers before many other plants get going. It takes awhile for sea kale to adjust to transplant, but imho, it’s well worth the wait! Here it is again next to the pretty fava bean plants and Egyptian walking onions:

Fava's sea kale, onions

I’ve let the Red Russian Kale and spinach go to seed, too, so I can collect seed for next year, plus enjoy their beauty now. This bed will get cleared out very soon, so I can plant lima beans to regenerate the soil before another round of heavy feeding brassica’s in late summer/fall/winter:

kale and spinach to seed

We’ll finish up today with yarrow and clover, over and over. 🙂 Actually, this grouping happened spontaneously, and I’d love to recreate it all over the yard! Our yarrow hasn’t shown color yet, but the blooms are a bright magenta, which goes so well with the red clover blossoms. This combo nourishes the soil, provides a spot of beauty, and attracts all sorts of beneficial bugs. Gotta love it!

yarrow and clover