It’s time for a late summer gardening update. The August heat’s been great for cycling and wake surfing, and for fast-tracking veggies (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash, melons, corn, artichokes, cucumbers, leaks, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) after a rainy June.
But hot, hot days also pose some challenges, especially for the leafy green vegetables like lettuce and spinach which are especially sensitive to high heat. Too much baking sun for too long and both will bolt before your eyes.
Over the last week I’ve pulled up and composted all of the remaining greens. And this weekend I replanted.
In addition to a new crop of lettuce and spinach, I’m experimenting with greens that I normally plant early in the summer. I would’ve planted kale and Swiss chard at the same time that we put in most of the other early summer vegetable transplants, but an incredibly rainy June didn’t offer amenable growing conditions. By the time the rains passed at the beginning of July, I was racing to try and catch up, and the kale and Swiss chard fell by the wayside.
So I decided to plant both now.
I expect that neither will reach maturity before autumn frosts stunt their growth, but I’m curious to see how they fare. The seeds emerged almost overnight, and I figure even premature kale and Swiss chard will be delicious to eat in late September and early October. I stuck with my favorite kale, Nero di Toscana, but I’m trying two unfamiliar varieties of Swiss chard, Fordhook Giant and Magenta Sunset.
In the second and third photographs kale (left) and Swiss chard (right) flank a row of beets, the only veggie I didn’t compost in this raised bed.
Although I love eating beets, we receive more than enough in our farm share from Full and By Farm, so I grow beets for their “green” instead. Including these beautiful violet black leaves in a salad adds welcome color and a slightly sweet earthiness that everyone seems to enjoy.
I’m confident that the spinach and lettuce seedlings will be ready-to-eat by the end of the month, but the kale and chard are a gamble. I have no idea whether or not they’ll be large enough to eat before frost up some…
I’ll update you when the time comes!