PLANTING UP WINTER GREENS – THIRD WEEK IN OCTOBER 2011

 
Three kale plants and one everlasting cabbage planted where the runner and French beans used to be growing last Summer. 

Time to say goodbye to the  very generous runner bean and French bean plants which have provided many contributions to dinners throughout  the Summer and Autumn. I read that the roots of peas and beans should be left in the ground as the nodules of nitrogen they have created make the rotting  roots a good source of nitrogen for the next crop in that patch – brassicas in my case.  I hear of new research now which says the legume plant uses its stores of nitrogen on its own beans and peas. This means the roots have spent their nitrogen reserves by the time it comes to clear the pea and bean patch. This leads me to just rip out the spent plants for the compost heap, roots and all. Soil tests show I have an abundance of nitrogen in my soil already so no harm done. I store away the wig-wam style supports in the shed until I need them again next Spring when I will  sow more peas and beans.

 

KALE AND EVERLASTING CABBAGE OUTDOORS: Now with half the patch cleared, it is time to rake it over and prepare the soil for the kale and everlasting cabbage which have been growing away happily in pots. The cabbage grew from a cutting, but the kale plants were bought at Sonairte, the ecology centre just outside Laytown, Co. Meath. Full watering can and trowel in hand, I space the plants about 40cm apart, dig a hole for each, remove plant from pot, place rootball in hole, water hole and then back fill with soil, pressing the ground with the hands so as to leave plant firmly rooted.

MIZUNA ORIENTAL GREENS UNDER GLASS: Also in Sonairte, I bought a module tray of 9 Mizuna plants. I have not grown these before, but having heard Joy Larkcom at the recent GIY Gathering in Waterford raving about oriental greens, I am now enthused to plant them in

Mizuna plants, an oriental brassica, in one of four plots in the new greenhouse.

my new greenhouse. I increase the soil depth in the plot I have set aside for the mizuna by emptying a large pot of soil (which grew the carrots over the Summer),  inside the greenhouse. Levelling the soil, I space out the Mizuna plants about  30cm apart and plant each just like I planted the kale and cabbage earlier.

It is satisfying to know that in the depths of Winter, fresh greens for steaming, stir-fries or colcannon will be on hand outside the back door, a decent return on an hours work for a couple of euro in plants.

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