Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time to Seed Fall Broccoli and Kale

Can you believe it? I'm actually posting about fall - and it's not even summer yet! Ah, the life of a gardener.. and a year round veggie gardener needs to think ahead! Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely unorganized, but the thought of fresh, crunchy broccoli in mid-Sept reminds me that it's time to start seeding a fall crop.

I pulled out my seed starting flats and potting soil just a few days ago and sowed some 'Marathon' broccoli seeds. Now, just 3 days later they've germinated and I moved them under the grow lights. Marathon (from Johnny's) is a very cold tolerant type and is ideal for a fall planting (or winter if you're in a milder climate than me!). If you don't have a fall type, it's still worthwhile planting a regular broccoli from your local seedrack. If hard frost threatens early, you can always toss a row cover or a mini-hoop tunnel over the bed.

I also planted two types of Kale - Winterbor and Lacinato - both are hardy and delicious! Kale is a superfood, yet it's just not planted as much as it should be. Not only is it nutritious, but it's also very pretty in the garden, offering architectural interest well into winter (longer if planted in a cold frame, large cloche, mini-hoop tunnel or unheated greenhouse.

Lacinato (my seed pack is from Renee's Garden - love their website!) is also called Dinosaur Kale and it is one of the most elegant veggies you'll ever meet! The long, strap-like leaves are a deep blue-green and have a unique blistered texture. It grows about 2 1/2 to 3-feet tall and can be used in soups (bean and kale soup!), stews and many other dishes. It's also an open-pollinated type, so you can save the seeds for future crops.

I like to put kale in the food processor and turn it into confetti. Stick the bag in the freezer and then add handfuls of kale confetti to soups, stews, gratins, omelets, whatever! It's an easy (and cheap) way to get a nutritional burst.

You can also start some cabbage, cauliflower and other brassicas now for fall crops.. I'll plant my broccoli out in the garden in about 4 to 5 weeks, and the harvest will start around mid-Sept.. a great fall treat!

Happy Gardening!


  1. This learning to be at least a three season vegetable gardener is new to us, although we experimented the last few years... so I can assure you we will be following your endeavors keenly. Something I often find missing from garden books is what kind of soil different vegetable seeds prefer as mine is definitely on the acid side.

    Nothing heartier than a bean and kale soup when the snow is blowing outside! A good wake up call to plant now for late fall crops. Thanks Niki!

  2. Hey Brenda.. your garden is in a nice microclimate too - perfect for a year round crop! :) i lime my veggie (and perennial garden and lawn) every fall.. if you forget, spring is fine too, but it does take some time to adjust the pH. if the pH gets too low, the veggies cannot take up the nutrients they need, so liming is important! :) Niki

  3. I'm currently waiting for my Broccoli seeds to ripen. I hope to collect and plant them soon!

  4. We just had some fabulous dino kale from the Farmer's Market last weekend. I like the texture, and it holds up better, especially in soups. We just grew the red winter kale this spring, but I'd love to try something like Renee's Lacinato this fall.

  5. Marianne MuellerJune 17, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    Hi, what part of the country are you in, and do have hot August summers?

  6. Hi Marianne, I'm in Nova Scotia - my backyard is zone 6 and typically July, Aug and Sept are quite hot, but often the evenings are cooler.. I might even start a third planting of kale in mid-July for a mid-Aug planting.. it's been an unusually hot year this year so far, so the planting dates for fall/winter crops might be off by a few weeks.. only time will tell! :)


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)