It’s freezing out there!

It was so bright & sunny on Friday afternoon, & we’d both worked late the previous day, so we felt we deserved a trip to the allotment. Our green waste bin also needed emptying & we were completely out of fresh veg – a treat & a necessity at the same time.

No chance of digging as the ground was frozen; I did dig up a patch of leeks but turned over great clods of frozen earth; quickly replaced as the worms about 6 inches down were still active & I  didn’t want them to freeze.

The kale looked unhappy with the cold; all but the Vate’s Blue Curled had drooped with the freezing temperatures. I picked lots of kale & it all revived once in the house, or rather the kitchen extension, only marginally above freezing.

The chard looked healthy in the winter sunshine, but some varieties were surviving better than others. The Sybilla Chard had succumbed to the low temperatures & the largest leaves were disintegrating into mush; the most resilient of the Chards were the dark green & deep red varieties, with the yellow & orange varieties a close second. The pattern seems to be that the more highly bred & specialised the variety,  the less able they seem to cope with low temperatures.

Vate’s Blue Curled Kale looks bright & springy

The Asturian Tree Cabbage  looks unhappy, but the smaller leaves seem to be ok

The Madeley  & True Siberian Kale are also withstanding this cold weather. Surprisingly, the Tuscan Kale isn’t very happy, although there’s evidence of sprouts appearing in the leaf axils, same with the cabbage plants I decapitated last week.

Here’s the Sybilla Chard, looking decidedly unhappy, the rest of the bed sparkling in the late winter sunshine .

Magical Kale

I’ve never understood the attraction of cabbages or Brussel sprouts; every time I’ve attempted to grow them they either succumb to pests, usually slugs ( that’s the cabbages)  or the sprouts fail to develop or blow overnight. This last year I broke my resolve never to grow cabbages again; I was seduced by the promise of trouble-free cabbage production in the HSL (Heritage Seed Library) 2011 catalogue. I was wrong. Here is the best of my Delaway cabbages:

This sorry specimen will no doubt be populated by a horde of slugs when I pull it apart to cook. I cut the heads off all the cabbages, leaving the lower leaves; clusters of small leaves will then sprout from the leaf axils in spring. We will see. The other cabbages I grew were Asturian Tree Cabbage; more like a kale than a cabbage, it doesn’t produce a head but you pick the leaves as you want them. Continue reading