Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thank You, Universe

I send my thanks to the Universe for all that I have
(and in some cases, for what I don't have).
I live in Peace,
May all the world do so.
I live with Love,
May all the world do so.
I am warmth, well fed,
Warmly clothed, and content;
May all the world find these blessings.
I face each day knowing that I am blessed.
I face each challenge knowing that I am blessed.
May all the world do so.

P.S. The photo is of the blooms on my Thanksgiving Cactus. It began blooming a couple of weeks ago and likely will continue until late December. Its ancestors were born in the rainforests of Brazil, where they grow in trees in March through May, because that is fall there. I can only imagine seeing these hanging in the treetops. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Another Edge

Sunset; another edge, a time of transition.

One benefit of winter in Kansas is the beauty of our sunsets. While living surrounded by trees has many benefits, shielding us from the view of the rest of the world, it does block the view of the horizon. Still, the colors are wonderful.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Circle Continues...

At the edge...
Tree branches stark against a gray sky.
Winds swirl leaves in the grass.
The Turkey Vultures no longer soar on high.
Summer releases her hold with a sigh.
I stand at the edge of the woods
Looking deeper within;
Standing at the edge of this world;
Morning glories, still glorious.
Now the veil is thin.
I feel the edge, soft and gray;
The distance between this world
And what is beyond is the same
as a leaf's edge. My hand reaches through
So I can touch you.

We experienced our first night with freezing weather more than a week ago, maybe two weeks ago; I forgot to note the date. Last week I began cleaning up the frozen garden. As I pulled morning glory vines from the trellises, I noticed that the freeze-dried blossoms still held rich color that contrasted beautifully against the blackened green of the leaves. Beauty in death.

So I went through the garden searching for other bits of beauty.

And they were there, of course. While the wilted landscape looks like a mess from a distance, looking closer changes my perspective. After all, the morning glories  looked like just a wilted mess until I got up close enough to see the colors.

Here are a few of the sights I found with a few minutes of shutter snapping.


Dried ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) plants. Time to dig their medicinal roots.
Fig leaves curled in on themselves.

Last of the echinacea blooms. Appears to be a chance hybrid of E. paradoxa
and one other echinacea species in my garden.
And the red of blueberry leaves.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bugged about Dinner?

Grasshopper preparing to fly.
The conventional way that gardeners look at insects and other creepy crawlers is with the question, "friend or foe?"

However, with a subtle change in perspective you can take the word "foe" right out, although I'm not sure that "friend" would always be the right term. I'm a fan of looking at the plant-munching insects as simply critters being themselves and trying to survive. That doesn't mean I don't take steps to prevent them from eating my plants (such as squishing them), but changing my attitude makes a difference in how I approach that task.

Recently, we've begun to describe these critters -- in particular, the grasshoppers -- by another term; "lunch." Or perhaps "dinner," or "breakfast."

Human beings all over the world routinely consume insects as part of their normal diet. Let me add, they intentionally consume these insects, in some cases considering them delicacies. Insects and other creepy crawlies contain many nutrients, including amino acids (proteins). The critters add diversity to the diet and supplement other protein sources. In some areas they might even provide a significant portion of dietary protein. Even some vegetarian peoples will eat the buglies even if they eat no other animal proteins. In Mexico they eat roasted grasshoppers seasoned with lime and chilies. They are called chapulines.

Here in the U.S.A. however we have a general aversion to bugly critters of every kind, regardless of the benefits they provide. Eating creepy crawlies is simply out of the question. People even get hysterical when they learn that food processors can allow a certain amount of bug parts in the foods they package.

We've all eaten plenty of bugs without knowing it. I'm sure that not all of the aphids get washed off my lettuce and kale. Occasionally I find tiny caterpillars in my steamed greens, so certainly I've eaten a few. Why not take the next step and intentionally eat some of these critters?

So we've taken to hunting grasshoppers and crickets. You definitely want to cook these critters. The grasshoppers turn an interesting red color when you either saute in butter or boil them. No, they don't taste like chicken. They don't have much flavor at all, and the texture is sort of crispy. The key to catching grasshoppers is to speak calmly to them and not think about the fact that you intend to eat them. On these chilly mornings they move very slowly, but can be difficult to find. You don't need to hunt your own as you can go online and find sources for ready-to-eat bugs. An easy way to get some bug nutrition in your diet is to buy some cricket flour and add some to your favorite flour-based recipe.

Moving bugs into our diets has been touted as one way to provide protein to the growing human population in a more sustainable manner. A couple of thousand bug species are edible and routinely consumed. Here are a few common ones.

In my research I ran across Web sites describing recipes high end chefs created for using bugs. I'm intrigued by the stink bug (yes, stink bugs), which another Web site described as tasting like apples. I say "no" to the tarantula and dragonfly dishes. Not because they're creepy, but because I like spiders and dragonflies a lot in a non-culinary sort of way. I would never intentionally eat them.

One chef who has written a book of buggy cuisine piqued my interest with his description of wax moth larvae, which destroy honey bee hives by eating honey and honeycomb wax. That sort of diet sounds like one that would create some sweet meat. He said that when baked into cookies they taste like pistachios. He gave tips on cooking with insects in this 2013 interview.

I think I'd be up for some wax moth cookies. And I'm eyeing those green stink bugs with a different attitude. It seems like it wouldn't take much effort to gather enough for an intriguing stir fry. For now though, it's crickets and grasshoppers. Bon appétit.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Drawing In and Roasting Squash

Little yellow crookneck squash you're going to get roasted.
For the last couple of weeks I've been drawn more inside. Even when the weather is gorgeous, as it was this afternoon, I feel more compelled to do indoor chores. The garden still presents plenty of things to do, but I feel no urgency to do them. And when the mornings are chilly, as they have been the last few days, I focus inside.

It's just part of the cycle. Autumn arrives and things move inward and downward. Perennial plants begin pulling their energy into the roots. Leaves turn colors and fall to the ground. Late annuals pull out all of the stops, flowering and setting seed at a rapid pace to live up to their biological destiny: reproduction. Then they droop and drop.

And I am drawn inward, literally and figuratively. I spend my mornings on household tasks. And I feel like cooking! It's not that I hate cooking, but during the summer I try to avoid kitchen time as much as possible. Now I start my day in the kitchen -- and not just on breakfast.

During the summer I did spend my share of time in the kitchen. What am I supposed to do with all of that summer squash, after all? Green beans, long beans, peppers, and so on. I race through the snapping, chopping, steaming, roasting, etc., so I can get back outside. Today I take my time in the kitchen.

A couple of posts ago I promised to instruct you on how I make Roasted Summer Squash with Apples. So here it is. The squash was really, really, I mean Really productive this year. I made a lot of this stuff (and even froze some), as well as other squashy things.

Ready for the oven.
Use a shallow glass baking dish, such as the one above. It is about 10.5x15 inches and about 2 inches deep. Print on the bottom says it's 4.8 quarts (4.5 liters). You can use any size dish, depending on how much squash you have.

Summer squash (zucchini might work, too)
Medium size red onion
Apples (2 to 3 medium size ones for this size of dish)
Avocado oil or high quality extra virgin olive oil

Cut up vegetables and apples and place in dish. Do no fill much more than half full. If the baking dish is too full, it will take longer for the vegetables to cook and you won't get that nice, roasted flavor. It will be more like steamed or boiled.

Coat vegetables with oil. I like to just drizzle some oil over the vegetables in the pan and work them with my hand until the vegetables are well coated. Or you can dump the vegetables into a large bowl, drizzle with oil, toss with a wooden spatula until well coated and then place back in pan.

Add salt and pepper. Place in a preheated 400-degree oven for an hour or a little longer if you want them super soft. You should see some browning. Stir every 15 minutes, scraping vegetables off the bottom and sides.

Remove from oven. Serve hot, or keep in refrigerator to eat cold or reheat. Add toasted pecans for a special touch.

You can also roast the squash without the onions and apples. That's how I started doing it. Then I thought, "I'll bet that would be really good with onions. Ooo. Oooo. And apples!" You can vary the amount of onion and apples, and even add different seasonings as your whim desires.

You can roast just about any vegetable. Okra, eggplant, celery and tomato. 
While I roasted the above pan of squash and apples today, I also roasted up some okra that's been languishing in the refrigerator, with some summer's end eggplant, chopped celery, and a few golf ball size Black Vernaisse tomatoes that were sitting on the counter. I seasoned it with oregano, smoked paprika, and a hint of cayenne. Prepare it just like the summer squash, but it only needed about 30-45 minutes in the oven.

While I was processing the summer squash this summer, I also simply steamed some (for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through) and froze it to use later in stir-fries and other dishes. But most of the squash got roasted, or dehydrated.

The dehydrated squash is like chips -- addictive. I thinly sliced the squash (about 1/8 inch thick), salted the slices (I believe this not only enhances the flavor, but draws out water and makes the dried squash crisper), and placed in the dehydrator until crispy (135 degrees F. if you've got one with a thermostat). I bet you can't eat just one.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Apples of my Eye

Recipes; who needs 'em?

At least I didn't need one to make some awesome apple butter.

Three bags of apples in the refrigerator needed to be used pretty soon, before their already rotten spots ate the whole apple. I've already stuck plenty of baked apples with cinnamon and other spices in the freezer to thaw later, and bake again with a crust. Or just thaw... or not. That stuff is really good frozen, too. But enough is enough.

So how do you cook down three bags of apples with a minimum of fuss, and a significant reduction of volume?

Slow cooker apple butter.

I cut up apples until my 6-quart slow cooker was slightly overfull, set the lid on (it didn't go down all the way, at first), plugged in the slow cooker (this is a really, really important step), turned it on low (another important step) and walked away for 16 hours or so. I did stir it a few times, but not while I was sleeping.

The resulting thick, buttery goo was oh so delicious.

I wanted to can this amazingly simple, single ingredient wonder, but wasn't sure if I needed to add a bit of acid first, so I started looking for recipes for canning apple butter. Most of the Web sites that had apple butter recipes didn't say anything about adding vinegar or some other acid before canning. However, all of the recipes from places that are supposed to know food safety (like Extension, you know, the Web sites with the .edu at the end) said to add vinegar, quite a lot of vinegar in my opinion.

Meh. That much vinegar would really affect the flavor. I knew that you can substitute concentrated lemon juice for vinegar when canning, and my notes indicated that I could use half the amount of bottled lemon juice as vinegar. I didn't have any lemon juice. So I froze most of the first batch (except for a pint to spread on the grain-free breads I've learned to make) and started a second batch, filling not only the 6-quart slow cooker, but the 3-quart one, as well. And my delightfully helpful husband picked up some bottled lemon juice when he went into town for some appointments.

But you know what else I had "forgotten" in my first batch of apple butter, according to every single recipe I came across? Apple juice and sugar. Sugar? Apples are sweet enough fresh and raw, you go cooking them down, concentrating all that flavor and natural sugar, and you have lots of sweetness. Why in the world do you need to add sugar? Are you people addicted?!?

Take a deep breath, girl.

OK. I'm better. But really, why add so much sugar to something already so sweet? And the apple juice, forget it. I cooked all of my apple butter without one drop of apple juice, except that which came out of the apples. It was fine. And I didn't have to leave the lid slightly off (as all of the recipes said to do) so that the extra liquid would evaporate. I didn't have any extra liquid. Some might think that adding the apple juice or cider gives extra flavor. But my homegrown apples of several varieties needed no extra flavor. This stuff is ambrosia.

So I canned the second batch. The lemon juice did not ruin the flavor, but actually gave it a nice little zip.

So here's my recipe for apple butter.
1 slow cooker

Cut up the apples until the slow cooker is full. Put on the lid, plug in the slow cooker and turn it to low. Go do something else. Stir it. Go to bed and sleep all night. In the morning look at it, stir it, and go do something else until it is the consistency you want. Grab your immersion blender and blend that ambrosia to a smooth consistency, or not. Eat some of it while it's hot. Eat some more when it's cold. Put it on toast. Put it on ice cream (dairy or non-dairy). Put it in yogurt (ditto). Or just eat it all by itself. But be careful. That's a lot of apple on that spoon.

So you want to can it.
I used 3/4 to 1 cup of bottled lemon juice for the 6-quart cooker. (If your cooker is a different size, just do a little simple math.) The volume of apple butter was less than half the volume of the cut up apples. You can add the lemon juice while the apple butter is still bubbling in the slow cooker. The butter must be hot when you can it. But I had to wait for the lemon juice, so I refrigerated it and reheated it to boiling the next day. Be careful; this goo is like lava. The butter wasn't even getting warm when the first bubble rose up and splattered apple butter with a "bloop!" Fortunately, I had the lid on. Use a lid and carefully lift it and stir, often, to prevent the lava explosions and to prevent scorching.

Start heating the water in the canner before you start bringing the sauce to a boil. Have clean jars, new lids, and rings at the ready. When the canner is boiling hard, fill the jars (leave a half inch "head space" at the top), wipe the rims clean, put the lids on and screw the rings on tightly. Set the jars in the rack and lower them into the boiling water, replace the lid, and process for...

...the first recipe said five minutes for pints, but if you process for 10 minutes or more you don't need to sterilize the jars first. So I processed my pints for 15 minutes, just to be sure. Food safety first.

Remove the jars from the canner and set on a clean dish towel on the counter to cool. No sound is so sweet as the "tink, tink" of the lids as the jars seal. Yay! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Grimes Golden, Enterprise, Tydeman's Late Orange, Freedom, Liberty, Haralson -- all tasty apple varieties from our trees.
We are less than two weeks past the Autumn Equinox and the season is in obvious decline. A scattering of leaves litters the ground and summer vegetables have significantly slowed production.

All but two of the tomato plants have been retired. They looked puny and were no longer setting on flowers, so I picked all of the useable tomatoes, green and red, and pulled out the vines. The remaining plants look fairly lush yet and continue to produce, so I will leave them until frost, or they start looking really bad, whichever comes first. Mixed feelings filled me as I pulled the tomatoes. On one hand I love the dried tomatoes and roasted tomatoes I've put away, and part of me wants to keep collecting more. On the other hand, it's one less thing to do. I can focus on other tasks. Ditto with the summer squash.

One of the beds of summer squash has been cleared -- between the squash bugs and powdery mildew the plants were dying. The second bed of squash has been significantly reduced, as I've cut off most of the worst looking leaves and dead vines. But the plants continue to set on tender squash, so I will leave those in place until they die off more. Later today I plan to do another batch of roasted squash with apples. (Instructions in a later post.) This simple way of doing the summer squash will work nicely with winter squash and sweet potatoes.

It's apple time here in northeast Kansas, actually well past apple time on our farm. The trees have been cleaned of fruit by the joint efforts of me and the neighborhood squirrels. I picked the apples a little earlier than I would have prefered because the fruit started to disappear. We had a really good crop of apples and I am selfish. I did not want them all to go to the squirrels. The good news is that they were ripe enough that after some time in the fridge, the apples have sweetened up. Numerous batches of spiced baked apples have been put in the freezer for later dates. Many jars of dried apple slices line the pantry shelf. Sometime in the next few days I will pull out the crock pots and cook up some apple butter, which will go very nicely with the grain-free breads we've recently learned to bake. And, of course, more apples will go into my roasted summer squash pan (and future sweet potato roasts).

Even in the state of decline, the garden continues to produce abundance. Although their leaves are tattered by the munching of various insects and their larvae, the morning glories continue to be glorious. Their morning displays will continue until frost. The recent cloudy, cool mornings extend the time of bloom, so they don't close up until after noon. The nasturtiums, which struggle during hot weather, are blooming profusely. Spicey blossoms for my meals. Some of the leaves will go into my mixed greens ferment, as soon as I get around to pulling it all together. It was a mighty tasty ferment last year.

And the sweet potatoes... the vines are lush and have grown through the protective fencing and onto the path. I've noticed where the deer or rabbits have nibbled off leaves, and that's fine. Soon I will cut back the vines and dig the orange roots, and some purple roots too. I love sweet potatoes. A few years ago, a dedicated group of market farmers had October declared Sweet Potato Month in Kansas. Events were scheduled and a fun time was had. I have not seen any events planned this year yet, but the Celebrate Sweet Potatoes - Lawrence, Ks., Facebook page remains active. So I have hopes.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

New Discovery about Old Friends

I've been growing purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) for years, decades even. So why didn't I know they had such a lovely fragrance?

Two or three weeks ago while pulling weeds from the path near this mass of coneflower I paused and wondered what that lovely fragrance was. Bumblebees buzzed around the flowers, sipping nectar. Could it be...?

I brought my nose next to a spiked flower and inhaled. Oh my. What a lovely fragrance.

This lady likes echinacea, too.
The flowers only release mass quantities of fragrance when it's warm and humid. At least that's one bonus of warm, humid mornings that cause me to break a sweat without trying.

I love this wonderful plant even more.

I grow four species of Echinacea and apparently a hybrid now. Not only E. purpurea, but also E. pallida, the species that grows in local prairies; E. angustifolia, the one considered the official "medicinal" echinacea; E. paradoxa with its bright yellow flowers and an orange variation. And now I have one that is possibly a cross between paradoxa and either pallida or purpurea, with pale yellow petals.

One tiny seedling of the rare E. tennesseensis grows in a pot on my front porch. I won't claim to grow five species until it finds its home in the soil somewhere in the garden.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Apples of My Eye

These are Liberty apples on a tree at the edge of the garden near the house. It's been a reliable little tree and not as prone
to thievery as the apple trees at the bottom of the hill where we can't watch them as closely.
All of our apples trees bear heavy loads this year. We've been planning to share the crop -- wormy as it might be since we've done no spraying -- with family and friends. We planted way too many apple trees while dreaming about selling organic apples at the farmers market.

But growing apples organically in Kansas is tough and selling at farmers market will remain just a dream for us. If we had it to do over again we would plant far fewer fruit trees and more berries.

We've not got way too many apples for ourselves. We figure we'll just let others come and pick for themselves.

Well others are coming to pick our apples... uninvited. And they're not the human kind of thieves.

For the past week or two we've watched the apples on the William's Pride tree grow redder and redder. The usual harvest time for that variety is August, so I wasn't getting too eager to pick them, although from a distance they sure looked ready.

They must have been ready, for on his daily walk yesterday morning my husband noticed that nearly all of the apples on that tree were gone, except for about a dozen that were still half green. During the night squirrels and/or raccoons and/or opossums had an apple picking party.

My visions of baked apple deliciousness were dashed. On the other hand I don't have to figure out what to do with all of those apples. Yesterday evening I went down and picked all of the remaining apples that I could reach from the ground. That should be enough. Even half green they taste pretty good, and they're pretty clean, not terribly wormy.

I'll watch the other trees more closely and when the apples start looking ripe, I'll call in the family and friends for an apple picking party, with human guests this time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

So... Rabbits Again

Rabbits: the perpetual curse. Or is it a blessing in disguise? I go back and forth.

I jokingly (half jokingly) refer to them as our "pet" rabbits. Looked at from one perspective, we are encroaching on their space, changing the environment. If I provide an easy food source for them, why shouldn't they take advantage.

I get along with the rabbits by building fences around the things they most like to eat (young pea plants, bean plants, chard, beets, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and apparently young okra plants. The deer also like to strawberry and sweet potato plants, so I have to put a chicken wire "top" on those beds to keep the deer from reaching over, or simply stepping over the two-foot tall rabbits fences. The deer seem easier to thwart than the rabbits, though.

Radishes. Rabbits don't seem to like radishes. They're safe without a fence.
Erecting chicken wire fences makes for an extra gardening task, but it's worth it to save the frustration of having my plants eaten, and it detracts less from the aesthetics than the white row cover. Besides, if I plan correctly I don't need to take all of them down and put them back up at the end of the season. For example, I'll leave up the fence around the sweet potatoes and plant peas and/or beans there next year. The fence around the strawberries just stays, since they are a perennial crop.

Row cover can't be considered a fool proof barrier against rabbits anyway. Two years ago (or was it last year?) a crafty rabbit learned that it can get to my tasty bush beans by tearing a hole in the row cover.

Or if I trap baby bunnies inside (How was I supposed to know they were there?) a row covered tunnel mama will readily tear her way in. A few weeks ago I had left the row cover off of the cabbages to facilitate the path rehabilitation project -- and doesn't it look nice. Before putting the row cover back in place I sprayed with Bt to take care of any cabbage eating larvae that might hatch out. The next day I noticed a large hole in the end of one of the row covers. And it just happened to be a new cover. The one that had been on there had gotten beaten up by the various elements and needed to be fully intact because I was planting squash in there as I harvested the cabbages. I hoped to delay the onslaught of squash bugs and cucumber beetles. So having a large hole torn in that row cover seemed a particular insult.

I waited a couple of days to patch the hole (with duct tape). The morning after I'd patched it, it was torn again, right next to the patch. At first I thought that the row cover was just weak there and the wind (we'd had a lot of it) just ripped it again. So I used more duct tape. The next day another rip! Aargh. Patch. Hmmm. Could it be that a mama bunny had hidden babies under the spreading leaves of the cabbages?

The next morning I stepped out onto the front steps to greet the sun and saw a hole in a different spot... aaaand a rabbit shoving her way through the row cover right next to the patch over the original holl -- FROM THE INSIDE! I am certain it was the very rabbit pictured above, as she is feeding on clover near that particular cabbage patch.

Bingo. My suspicions were correct. I pulled back the row cover and started tilting back cabbages. It didn't take long for me to discover the babies, fully furred and quite mobile, under one of the cabbages. I chased them out of the bed -- which took a few minutes because they split up and hid under other cabbages. Then I took off all the lower cabbage leaves, creating a less attractive hiding spot, chased out the last bunny and put the row cover back.

No more holes torn into the row cover. Problem solved. Now I can chuckle about actually finding babies in the cabbage patch.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Faster than a Speeding Bullet...

So much garden stuff happens in June. You would think that I'd be posting here every single day... maybe even more than once a day. So much garden stuff happens. I think about posting this and that, every little wonder that I see...

But, as I said, so much garden stuff happens. I go for days without even turning on the computer. When I do sit down and turn it on I'm often in a hurry, or more likely too tired to put effort into writing something. I might sit down thinking I'll post here, but when it comes to it, the energy just isn't there. It's been a long day in the garden. Or maybe I've failed to get the picture that I wanted to share and now it's too late for it. All this nature/garden stuff passes by with the speed of a bullet and the force of a speeding freight train. I sometimes feel as if I've been hit by that freight train. Didn't June just begin? Now we're suddenly well into July. Before you know it August will be here and I'll be in a frenzy dealing with tomatoes and green beans.
This is just a cool looking mushroom growing in the mulch on
the side of the garden. It looks like a little fairy house. I don't
know what kind of mushroom it is, but I thought it looked really
cool and I wanted to share the image.

It's only been a month since my last post but it seems like much longer... because so much garden stuff happens. The time for this post or that post has past.

So on this Sunday morning I'll get this one post in with a quick update and a couple of photos.

This morning, while it was still cool, my husband and I walked down our driveway and back (a total of a half mile, it's long for a driveway) and the spirits were rising from the pond. I'm not sure whether the mist rises because the water is warm and the air is cool, or vice versa. I do know that when the sun pops over the trees on the hill and hits the water, the spirits/mist rise up even more dramatically than can be seen in the above photo (taken at the end of May). Spirits rising from the water to greet the day. Water spirits or Air spirits? Does it matter?

As is usual, the water level in the pond is lower than when the photo was taken. By late fall -- barring any deluges between now and then -- the water in the pond will be just a memory. We could attempt to fix the leak again, but that would be thousands of dollars and no guarantee. Then we'd have to do something about the trees actually growing on the dam. No, the trees aren't causing the leak. It was doing that while they were barely noticeably seedlings. I'd love to keep the pond intact. But it's a good lesson in transience and the impermanent nature of all things. We're cool with that.

All good things (and bad things) come to an end, eventually. So I'll end here and share other goings on in another post. Ah yes, something to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Yesterday morning was warm... no, change that... Yesterday morning was hot and humid.
While picking snap peas (oh, I could sing the virtues of snap peas) I leaned over this mass of white arugula blossoms and caught a whiff of a pleasant fragrance. I did not know that arugula blossoms emitted such a sweet smell.

The garden daily brings me surprises. I wish they were all this sweet.

One does not usually couple arugula with sweetness. Its leaves add a pleasant, pungent bitterness to salads, something like mustard greens (to which it is related), but not quite. My first taste of arugula (20 years ago?) left me somewhat ambivalent. I wasn't quite sure if I liked it or not. But I've grown to love it and my garden is never without it. Indeed, if you routinely let it flower and set seed, just try to be without it.

It grows and tastes best when the weather is on the cool side, but with regular harvesting stands up reasonably well in the heat. Except it does bolt quickly when it gets warm.So I'll just go about smelling the arugula flowers. Imagine.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Poppies, poppies....

Poppies, so many poppies. We could call the Full Moon of June the Poppy Moon.

One of Shirley's many colors.
I so love these showy, brilliantly colored and varied flowers. The poppies shown above, playing nicely with the Echinacea pallida, are probably Shirley poppies (Papaver rhoeas). It's been so long since I planted the original seed that I have no idea which poppy breed they are, except that these look like Internet photos of Shirley poppies. But I also found other photos of "Shirleys" online that look different. They may simply be "double" cultivars. Double indicates extra rows of petals. Both the red and the pink are the same variety, as their colors vary greatly.

These are easy to grow and hardy annuals that must be planted each year.

Another Shirley, aka "corn poppy"
I collect the bulbous poppy seedheads when they turn brown, and shake out the seeds once they're fully dry (or, more likely, I'll just let them sit in a plastic container or a paper bag and the seeds mostly fall out on their own). In early spring, or even late fall I'll scatter the seeds...
Except, I don't always. Many times late fall and early spring pass by and the seeds are still sitting in their containers... which is what happened this year.

Fortunately these poppies self-sow rampantly. Their vivid blooms scattered among other blooms and greenery make a wild and lovely show.

The most famous -- or infamous -- species of poppy is Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, which is the same species of poppy used to produce the seeds on your poppyseed bun. Opium production requires making an incision in the seed head, which then secretes a milky sap. The sap is left to dry until the next day, when it is scraped off. Production of opium seems like a very labor- and time-intensive activity. More effort than I'd want to go to. It's much easier just to shake the tiny black seeds from the pods and use them in baking. Tastier, too. And less likely to get you in trouble with the law.

Seeds for these lovelies were given to me by a friend. As far as
I can tell, they are Hungarian pepperbox, which is a cultivar of
the breadseed poppy, Papaver somniferum.
Some countries outright outlaw this poppy species and its extracts. Some require a license to grow them for legal medicines. Others have no laws ruling growing of these poppies, as far as I can tell. The U.S. allows these poppies to be grown for seed and ornamental purposes, but it is illegal to produce opium from them (naturally). At least that's how precedence stands. You can easily find seed for bread seed poppies and grow your own for baked goods, or just for their beauty.

It was probably a field of P. somniferum that Dorothy found herself walking through on her way to see the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The fumes from the poppies put Dorothy, Toto and the Cowardly Lion to sleep. Of course, the Scarecrow and Tin Man, not having to breathe, were unaffected. Their method of escape from the deadly field of poppies differs between the book and the movie. However, it's doubtful that one will be affected by the narcotic effects of poppies just by walking through a field of them.

The opium poppy, as many powerful medicine plants, features in the myths of the Mediterranean region, their native stomping grounds. The most commonly known myth (at least to me) is that the Greek Goddess of the Fields, Demeter, created the opium poppy when her daughter Persephone went to live in the Underworld. The poppy helped her sleep. It also became the symbol of Hypnos, the God of Sleep, and his brother Thanatos, the God of Death (eternal sleep). The son of Hypnos, Morpheus, God of Dreams, also claimed the opium poppy for his symbol and the word "morphine" was derived from his name.

The Shirley poppy was earlier known as the corn poppy, as it grew in the grain fields, and also was sacred to Demeter. Another epithet for this species is "Flanders poppy," and it now symbolizes remembrance of those whose lives were lost in war.

Other poppy species also exist, including a few perennial and biennial species. There is the California poppy, and this lovely orange, but unknown-to-me species (at right). It came in a bag of seed for "bee flowers." I think some California poppies might have been in that bag, too, but I see none blooming now.

And finally, I have this lovely horned poppy, also known as sea poppy (Glaucium flavum) because of its love for the seaside. I gathered seed for this plant from one growing in the xeriscape demonstration garden at the Extension office. This species also produces bright yellow flowers, as well as these lovely orange ones. Xeriscape is a term for low moisture gardening. So it should work well in arid conditions, as its blue green foliage suggests. It is native to Europe, but seems to do well here. Apparently this is a short-lived perennial, so I must gather seed from this three-year-old plant if I want to be sure of enjoying its blooms year after year. The seedpods are long and pointed, unlike the bulbous pods of other poppy species, which gave it the name "horned" poppy.

Enjoy Poppy Moon, you all.

Friday, June 2, 2017


I walked down to the pond a couple of mornings ago to watch the spirits dancing across the surface of the water. Other people might call it mist, but I see beautiful spirits. It was in the last days of May and the mornings have still been cool enough for the spirits to rise from the water.

As I walked back to the house I saw something orange at the edge of the mowed area. Upon investigation I discovered this lovely wildflower. Consulting the "Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses" Web site I was able to identify it as Western Wallflower, Erysimum asperum, a flower I had not encountered before -- that I know of. It most frequently occurs as a bright yellow instead of this lovely orange yellow. Later I went searching for additional information on "western wallflower" and encountered numerous sites referring to Erysimum capitatum.


Surely the Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses Web site doesn't have the name wrong. Well, it doesn't. Further searching revealed that both species are referred to as western wallflower. Indeed, both species might actually just be one species. No matter how much the classifiers fiddle with things, confusion still remains.

Anyway, both species are members of the mustard family, aka Brassicaceae, the same family to which cabbage, broccoli, mustard, and so on belong. The evidence is in their four-petaled flowers, which initially caused their family to be called Cruciferae, referring to the cross-shape of the flowers.

Another new flower friend. I wonder if it will be possible to catch its seed and scatter it in the flower bed, and if its possible for me not to pull and resultant seedlings as "weeds."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Turtle in the Garden

Something has been digging in the garden...
Just holes in the wood mulch here and there, and some spots where the hay and straw mulch on the sides of the raised beds has been pulled away.
One morning I discovered the hay mulch messed up over an entire 30-foot bed, with areas of disturbed soil

I wanted to blame the rabbits. And I did.

Until I found the lady pictured above sitting cozily inside the three-ring "tomato" cage set up to support a pepper plant. She just shoved pepper plant over (it was easily righted later, so no harm) and plopped her round hiney into the soil. Presumably she laid eggs, or at least tried.

Then I remembered the same kind of mysterious digging in the garden last year that coincided with the appearance of an ornate box turtle laying eggs... probably this very same box turtle, of the subspecies Terrapene ornata ornata, which prefers grasslands. Another subspecies of ornate box turtle, Terrapene ornata luteola, prefers more arid habitats.

I don't know that any of her eggs hatched last year. At least one of the nests she planted in the garden got dug up by something with a taste for turtle eggs. That predation and the fact that they produce few eggs at a time means the ornate box turtle has a very low reproduction rate. I hope she has better fortune this time. I will be anxious to see whether any quarter-size turtles appear in about two months. How to protect the babies from hungry critters, I don't know.

My box turtle neighbor would love snacking on these strawberries, if they were
not inside a fence intended to prevent rabbits, deer and opossums from eating
them. The turtle must then be satisfied with eating bugs, worms, carrion, and
wild berries and other vegetation.
Box turtles are unique in the turtle world in that they live their lives on land, not in water. Doesn't that make them tortoises? Apparently not, according to the people who classify things. It has something to do with the shape of their feet and other body parts, I gather. Anyway, once this lady is done laying eggs, the mysterious digging will cease. The bed she dug up has been put back into order. None of the seedlings that had already sprouted were disturbed and where no seedlings had emerged I replanted. No harm done.

I won't hold a grudge against her and I'm glad it wasn't the rabbits doing the digging. I really don't want to put up any more chicken wire fences. I've already got the strawberries permanently surrounded, and temporary fences around the peas, beans and sweet potatoes.

Surely, that's enough.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Happy May Day

This is a day in May, so it is a May day, even if I'm late for THE May Day.
So Happy May Day.

The Sweet Woodruff under the hedge tree has not yet bloomed, so technically we haven't yet reached the ancient May Day, also called Beltane.

But many other plants are blooming. Look at the chives (above)! Not only are they pretty and cheerful, but tasty too. Toss them into salads, sprinkle them on top of anything. Maybe not ice cream, but who knows... They dress up a plain dish and add an oniony pop.

The Souvenir de la Malmaison rose (pictured here) is about to open, in spite of dying back to the ground this winter (probably too dry). Since it's not a grafted rose it grows from its own roots. So these are indeed the buds of the Souvenir de la Malmaison. The blooms are white with a hint of pink, and they are fragrant.

Also blooming now is this wild indigo (right). I thought this was Baptisia leucophaea, which is native to this area. But that has drooping flower stalks, while the stalks of this one are erect. So I think this is Baptisia sphaerocarpa. There aren't many other choices. The blue wild indigo (B. australis) is beginning to bloom, as well.

The iris (no photo, sorry) are blooming early, including those old fashion purple iris that smell so wonderful. The hummingbirds are back, sipping from the wild columbine. The bumblebees and other bees happily dine at the comfrey blossoms. I'm picking lettuce, radishes, radicchio, spinach, and arugula. Numerous tiny apples form on the trees, and one of the peach trees has about a dozen baby peaches. I will guard them ferociously when they near ripeness, to keep the squirrels, or whatever, from stealing them.Strawberries are beginning to turn color and on Monday I plant the tomatoes!

Yay for May!

--In case you're still interested in ticks, here is an article from Mother Earth News about dealing with ticks, including some herbal repellants.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Don't these black raspberries look tidy now? Beware; it's tick country.
What is that tickle?
I frantically lift my shirt or my skirt, or drop my pants, and look (to the best of my ability, depending on where the tickle is). Every little ruffle of clothes or brush of a hair tickles. So I'm constantly checking -- especially if I've been crawling around in the garden. Gah! What is that tickle?

I try to be more discreet when I'm in public. But still I check. I haven't had to head to the restroom to check a tickle... yet. But every little tickling sensation raises suspicion.

It is the season of paranoia.

Tick paranoia, that is.

A couple of weeks ago I started work on my black raspberry bed, clearing away extraneous plants, dead canes and weeds, which required much crawling on the ground. I also walked a short way into the nearby tall grass to dump wheelbarrow loads of pruned canes.

As I sat down to dinner that evening I felt something tickling my belly. When I pulled up my shirt I discovered almost a half dozen tiny ticks  crawling up my abdomen. Later I took off my clothes (outside) and found quite a few more clinging to the inside of my shirt and jeans. Yikes!

So the black raspberry patch is a tick haven. Perhaps now that I've removed some of the shade, making it less cozy, the ticks won't like it as much. Maybe. But they seem to be everywhere. When I'm in the garden for any period of time I can expect to bring home a tick or two. These are tiny ticks, most likely the nymph phase, which is their second stage after hatching out. The larval stage ticks are even tinier and have just six legs, while the nymph and adult stages have eight. Yes, eight. They are arachnids not insects.

I think these guys are American dog ticks, not the black-legged deer ticks that spread Lyme disease. The other day I tried looking at a couple with a magnifying glass, but they moved so fast it was hard to get good detail. And counting their legs is nearly impossible.

While the dog ticks supposedly don't transmit Lyme disease, they can transmit other serious diseases, some potentially fatal. That makes thorough (and I do mean thorough; don't get squeamish) body checks necessary every night. (Believe, just taking a shower is not sufficient.) I might begin doing tick checks more than once a day. The sooner you get them off, the less chance they have of transmitting disease. Tick checks are best done with a friend who can more easily check those places you can't check yourself very well. Tick checks with a friend can be fun. Have a glass of wine and some chocolate and go with the flow. Just get all the ticks off first. And flush 'em.

I've also started putting my work clothes in the dryer and running it on high heat for 10 minutes (actually, I give it two or three minutes more) when I come in. That's supposed to kill any ticks still clinging to my apparel.

But I am beginning to tire of ticks just a bit. It seems I must remove my clothes every time I come indoors after working in the garden so I don't shed ticks everywhere. Last night I found four ticks on my husband, and he hadn't even been outside. Today I vacuumed the entire house, hoping to suck up any ticks that might be waiting for one of us to pass by.

Rather than rewrite all the tick info I found on the wide Web I'll just direct you to this link  and send you to K-State Research and Extension where you can find a free, downloadable publication about ticks here; look for publication MF598.

No need to fear, just do tick ch..... Gah! What's that tickle??!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Garden Spears

It's asparagus season!
This cozy pair of shoots was consumed long ago, as I started my harvest just before the beginning of April. Lunch today included super tasty roasted asparagus. It's also great steamed and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or lightly cooked into stir-fries and other vegetable dishes.

In times past I've been forced to wait until almost mid-April for my first taste of this perennial vegetable. But our recent milder winters and early spring warm-ups seem to have pushed asparagus season up a couple of weeks. While this might appear to be a good thing to some, I'm not sure it is. Harvest should last only a couple of months regardless of when it starts. And last year the asparagus did not seem as productive as in previous years. It doesn't look like it will be quite as productive this year, either.

Some of the lack came from the disappearance of some of the plants. I'm not sure why they died out -- maybe because I don't water them much during droughty conditions. Anyway, this year I bought a half dozen crowns to fill in some empty spots. The nursery employee who checked out my purchases suggested putting rock salt on it. "They love it," he said. True or not true? Most things I read say that salt is an iffy additive at best, and detrimental over the long term at worst. Asparagus tolerates sodium chloride salt better than other plants, so application of rock salt has been used as weed control, but is not actually beneficial to the asparagus otherwise. Although some sources say that's still a controversy.

I'm not planning to use salt on my asparagus, as I did plant parsley in the asparagus bed, which is supposed to be helpful to the asparagus, although I forget how. Anyway, I'm always looking for ways to use my beds for more than one crop. I also get cilantro popping up in the asparagus. Since my husband eats lots of cilantro, I let it grow wherever it wants to -- almost.

Asparagus is relatively easy to grow. It prefers loose soil with plenty of organic matter, although it will still do well in pretty much any soil type, as long as the pH is about neutral. It's getting too late to plant asparagus here in northeast Kansas, so scope out your garden areas and start preparing your asparagus bed now, digging deeply and adding compost. Planting in a raised bed helps keep it well drained in extra rainy times, and allows the soil to warm a little sooner in spring. Don't harvest your asparagus in the year you plant it, and then harvest only minimally until the fourth year, when you can harvest the full eight weeks. You can extend the harvest a couple more weeks by allow a couple of fronds to form for each plant about midway. That provides energy from photosynthesis.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A-Foraging I Go...

Spring thunderstorms roll today; the fifth day of gray raininess.

In between the rains I can go foraging through the gardens. Both cultivated and wild plants provide new growth for me to plunder.

The basket of goodies above made up most of the salad that I had for dinner last night. Spinach from last fall's planting, new and tender horseradish leaves, and one Purple Passion Asparagus spear made up the cultivated portion -- along with a few leaves from my potted lettuce.

On the wild side were chickweed (my favorite), cleavers (it's Everywhere), wild violet leaves, and wild violet flowers (aren't they pretty?).

I topped it with slivers of roasted beets (red and yellow), chopped chives, and a drizzle of olive oil and blackberry-ginger balsamic vinegar. Some nights I'll toss in a few young leaves of lavender mint, lemon balm, monarda, or spearmint. You can't get more gourmet than that. You can't get much more nutritious than that, either.
Tonight I foraged more chickweed (found a new bunch under the elderberries) and some of the beautiful flowers that give the redbud tree its name (shown at left). Chickweed prefers moist and shady areas, although it will tolerate some drought with sufficient shade. It is one of those "winter annuals" that begin growing in mid-to late winter and die back when the weather turns hot.

The chickweed has started to set flower buds, so I'm trying to keep it cut back to encourage new growth and delay flowering. I love its bright green flavor in salads or as a fresh topping on hot dishes. The redbud flowers lend a pea-like flavor. A friend of mine likes to put them on her toast.

Wild plants offer much to us in the way of nutrition and medicinal value. And we also often overlook the tasty edibleness of some of our cultivated plants -- such as the horseradish leaves. I've got to use the horseradish leaves as much as possible now, as they are growing fast and soon will be too tough to eat. Those lovely purple grape hyacinth flowers growing in the front of my house also are edible. And the flowers of johnny-jump-ups and other violas, such as pansies. Roses, daylily buds and tubers... the list goes on.

Most people would include stinging nettles on their list of wild foods, but I cannot honestly do that, since I cultivate them. By "cultivate" I mean I give them a few spots to grow and do not discourage them (until they wander into the paths). I even pull weeds out of the nettle patch. Nettles are chock full of vitamins and minerals. Really, really good for you. They have a rich flavor that goes well with onions and other strong flavors, although steamed nettles topped with butter and a bit of salt are melt-in-my-mouth scrumptious. This is the best time to pick them, when they're young and tender. Cooking and drying take out their sting.

Another wild edible I will utilize in a month or so is lambs quarters. Related to spinach, this plant is even more nutritious than its cultivated cousin. And tasty. It tastes like spinach, only better. Of course I'm eating the dandelions, too. The entire plant is edible and medicinal. Later the purslane will begin to take over some parts of the garden. Might as well eat it.

Foraging is lots of fun. You'd be surprised at all the stuff around you that is edible. This article from Mother Earth News (it's old but relevant) gives good information about wild foraging, as well as a list of wild edibles. Of course the list is incomplete (it doesn't even include cleavers) and not all of these will be available everywhere.

Plants don't have to be wild to be part of the foraging. The forage can include parts of plants people don't normally consider eating, but which are eminently edible, or cultivated plants that have their own ideas about where to grow. A friend of mine (yes, the one who eats redbud blossoms) makes "sidewalk salad" from the various things that spring up between the stones in her paths. The salad can include a wide variety of things, from dandelion greens to the arugula and lemon balm that scatter seeds everywhere.

Just be sure you know for absolute certain the identity of a plant, and which part is edible before you go noshing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Farewell in Spring

On the day of my last post we learned that a friend had died that morning. It seems utterly appropriate that the day of his death would bring the first significant rainfall that we've had in months. The rain is like a balm.

It is spring. As we grieve loss, the world around us comes back to life and blooms. Each blossom brings hope. Each new green shoot reminds us that life pushes up from darkness. I feel grounded by the reminder of this constant and eternal flow; the ever-turning wheel.

Tears wet our faces as the rain drips from the yellow blooms.
And the rain continues.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Water is Life

Rain on the Daffodils.
At last.

After several months with little to no precipitation, the sound of heavy rain on the roof is the sweetest music. All the muscles in my body relaxed with that sound. Other issues seemed less distressing once the rain started pounding and actually creating mud.

Lately I'd become increasingly aware of every drop of water I used. Dish water, and water used to wash vegetables got dumped on the herbs and flowers surrounding the house. Sometimes I'd even wander over to the asparagus bed with the water. Use and reuse. When waiting for the water from the tap to get hot, I collect it in my watering can to use later on the potted plants. Every time I let water go down the drain instead of getting used, I felt a bit guilty.

So far we've had about an inch and a half of precipitation since yesterday morning, with more to come, according to the forecast.

But I don't consider the potential drought averted. That can only become known over the next few weeks. Still, we've had a reprieve. The seeds and plants I put in the ground this past week are getting what they need. I am more hopeful about this growing season.

Water is Life. Nothing lives without it. Nothing.
Don't forget that.
I will still try to be conscious of every drop of water I use; especially that which might be going to waste.
Water is precious. Water is Life.
It shouldn't take drought or the loss of all our clean water to remind us of that simple fact.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Just a Pretty Picture

Gray and snowy, with the promise of low temperature in the low 20s tonight.
But this recently opened amaryllis brightens the day.
I have a couple of other pots of amaryllis sporting multiple orange-red blossoms, as well. When they first opened a week (or two?) ago, they seemed huge and brilliant. Now they seem dwarfed by this large bright pink-red blossom that towers over them. I have kept these bulbous plants going for more than 10 years by setting the pots outside on the north side of the house, or another shady spot for the summer and bringing them indoors for the winter.

Last year I finally learned how to get them to bloom more reliably. Bring them indoors for the winter, preferably before the first frost, and stop watering them. I set mine in our attached garage. They don't need light. Let the leaves dry up and look dead. Previously I would bring them in the house for the winter and try to keep them green and growing. Sometimes they would bloom, sometimes not. Letting them go completely dormant should make them bloom more reliably. This year they have more blooms than usual. Except the big one, which has only one flower stalk. But it didn't bloom at all last year.

When I saw ready for them to bloom, I brought them into the warmth of the house, set them where they got light, and started watering them. Within a couple of weeks or so they sent up green blades that were followed by flower stalks. And, bada bing, brilliant blossoms. But it took at least a month to get from leafless to flowering.

Next year I might bring them into the house sooner, so I can have blooms in January, maybe even in December. Maybe not in December; they'd overshadow the Thanksgiving Cactus that bloomed throughout November and December. You also can follow the same method, but set them outdoors in spring and have these gorgeous members of the lily family setting fire to your gardens.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Getting Nettled, and Other Signs of Spring

Picked my first basketful of nettles before dinner yesterday. Yes, the stinging kind.
And I did it with my bare hands. Of course, at this young stage their sting is pretty mild.
I made a pot of stew rife with some of these nutritious nettle greens, stewed in chicken bone broth with carrots, celery, kale and sweet potatoes, seasoned with oregano, garlic powder and salt and pepper.

Nettle harvest isn't the only sign of spring. You've already met the crocuses. Yesterday I noticed daffodils blooming. And the vultures are back. Two of them, anyway. On the windiest of windy days earlier this week we saw two vultures circling. Even in the high wind (gusts of up to 40 miles per hour) these large birds seemed unruffled. They dove into the wind, moving forward without a flap. Instead they merely angled their wings to guide themselves through. Pure inspiration. Face the wind and move through it without struggling, but flowing. Taoists, surely.

The inspirational flights of the vultures prompted us to rename our little piece of paradise as Spirit Bird Farm. We had tired of Cedar Springs Farm, a name we chose before we really knew this place, and when the springs still ran, filling the pond. The springs are no longer reliable, although the cedars are even bigger and more abundant.

We have lots of spirit birds here. The hawks were very prominent in the sky this past winter. Occasionally bald eagles fly overhead. Barred howls laugh uproariously in the night. The crows have their charms. And then we have all these songbirds and other small birds.

But it is the vultures that define our sense of spirit bird. Soaring and circling, swooping and rising, rising, rising... silently, gracefully. They always seemed to be making the most of their "work," their search for food. And when a silent shadow passes over me as I work outside, I am reminded to be here now, for I too am mortal.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lettuce Contemplate

Lettuce grows pretty quickly.

You'd think I'd remember little things like that.

But when I started the cabbages and broccoli I also started some lettuce seeds, thinking I would plant them out in the garden with all of the other stuff.

However, lettuce grows quickly. By the time I plant the cabbages in the garden in two or three weeks, the lettuce will be getting close to a mature size, hardly the time to transplant them. I could put them in the garden now, but the way it hasn't been raining, I'd need to water them frequently. Watering plants in pots on the porch is much easier than dragging the hose out to the garden.

And we're still getting the occasional night with temps in the 20s... too cold for young lettuce that's been pampered in cozy conditions.

So I put all my lettuces in pots on the front porch. Although they're all in the house right now, since the low temperature tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the mid-20s. Lettuce adapts well to lower light levels, making it a good vegetable for a semi-shady porch or garden spot.

The above photo is one of my rather large lettuce babies. They are a Batavian variety, Concept. I first grew this variety a couple of years ago and fell in love with their full and beautiful form. It's similar in form to romaine, but more beautiful. When this baby grows up, I'll send you a picture.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do not Adjust your Screen...

The scene this morning... Snowy.
Giant flakes falling, floating, caressing...
I love surprises such as this (unless this were July, then, not so much loving the snow; but it's still February).
The snow on the ground was gone by noon. The afternoon was lovely -- partly sunny and in the 50s.
I'll be back in the garden tomorrow... What will I find?

P.S. The plastic-covered low tunnel in this pic has kale growing inside. I put blankets over the kale weeks ago, when the temperature was set to drop below zero -- which it did. Last week I removed the blankets and found some of the kale still alive. It was a ghostly pale yellow due to lack of sun, but alive. I left the ends slightly open to vent out heat, since we were getting sunshine and highs in the 70s.
The other night when the forecast predicted a low of 28 I didn't bother to close the ends because kale can take 28 degrees without breaking a sweat. Not so sure how the 15 degrees we actually experience affected it, but it was undercover and the ground is warmish. I haven't looked yet because I've had other priorities, but I'm hoping for early kale. Guess I should also check the spinach, which has no cover, but is surround by a cushy hay mulch. Early spinach, yay.