Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2010
Regional Report

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Kale that never bolted during the summer is now again full of tender leaves.

Great Rain!

Yeah for last month's considerable rain- more than 2.5 inches in my garden that I won't have to pay for! It revitalized several of my tomato plants so they're now 7 feet tall and 4 feet around, with vigorous new foliage and lots of blossoms.

Years ago I'd given up trying to nurture my tomatoes into winter production. I'd trimmed back the plants to their bottom-most new shoots and did get tomatoes for the end-of-the-year holidays, but they were pretty insipid- no better than store-bought, which I never purchased anyway. So, I determined not to waste the garden space on struggling with out-of-season efforts. Instead I shifted to in-season delights like lettuce, cilantro, parsley and all the Brassicas and greens.

But this year's tomatoes look so good, I'll see what results. I only have 4 plants, so I still have lots of space left to go for the cool-weather lovers.

I'll even try Brussels sprouts this year, for the first time, in among my "usual suspects"- 10 kinds of lettuce, 3 kinds of kale, 3 kinds of collards, and lots of kohlrabi.

Two of last spring's kale plants produced all spring and summer- lacinata (also called Dinosaur) and curly- and are again full of fresh green leaves, ready for my favorite winter dish of sauteed garlic, leeks, parsley and greens, tossed with feta or cotija cheese and firm tofu cubes, and served over whole wheat pasta. Yum!

Kohlrabi is my yearly homage to my childhood. My folks brought seed from their Austrian childhood, and we grew them every year. I loved its "whirlybird flying saucer" look, with its globe standing up from the soil and extended leaves like it was about to launch itself. I also loved its sweet crunch when still barely more than an inch in diameter. When I started gardening on my own, I added the purple to my "airport" crop, and loved the color contrast of the lime green interior and red-purple casing.

I won't bother with mustards this year, though, since I tried 5 kinds last year and found even the young leaves too strongly flavored and too hot for my tastes. The giant red's color is a brilliantly beautiful addition in the garden, however, so I'll grow it just as an ornamental.

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