Garden Strategy – Manipulating Crops

This is a time of year when vegetable beds are in transition. It’s time to set out the heat lovers – tomato, cukes, peppers, and sow beans, melons and corn. What to do, then, when you still have lingering winter crop?cloche

This week, I wanted to transition my fertility rotation from leaf/root to flower/fruit. I had four White Currant Tomato starts, but smack in the middle of the bed is three rows of kale. I was about to rip them out and eat them for dinner, when the light bulb went off. Because its still too cool for tomatoes at night, I built a cloche around that bed. Kale and brassicas in general, hate heat. They bolt, as they want to set seed…..and fast. And when brassica sets seed and flower, that make sweet little broccoli-like stalks – we call them rapinii or broccoli rabe when broccoli does this, but kale will flower much in the same fashion and stalks can be cut and eaten.

So what better way to have them go to flower than cover them in a little hand made hothouse or cloche? Perfect solution. It will keep the tomatoes warm enough that they’ll rapidly prosper, and force the kale to flower so I can harvest them and pull them out. By doing this, I am getting the absolute most from a crop. Planted in fall, that kale provided texture to winter soups and nutrition to morning eggs. In spring, leaves came back for another round of harvesting and now, I’ll use the flowering stalks. Three harvests from three little rolls of kale – super fab!

Another garden strategy from gogo!