Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kale to Parsnips and Turnips

Spring planted Red Russian kale

For the first time this year I'm growing spring planted kale. It is going very well so far. I've had the first harvest from one side of the bed. I'll harvest the other side this week.

Overwintered kale

Usually I just have overwintered kale that bolts really quickly. I don't mind that as kale blossoms are so good. But the hard winter is leaving the plants pretty weak. The blossom shoots are getting really spindly, so it was time to take them out.

Oh and did you notice the little white flowers in front of the kale? Those are mache. This is the last year I'm growing them. I just don't get much of a crop for the amount of work I put in with them. Most of what is overwintered is too ragged to eat in the spring and the new growth doesn't last long enough before they bloom. And what is there is so tiny it drives me crazy to pick it.

Molly the cat keeping the compost area free of mice

So I pulled the whole bed. I forked up the bed to aerate it. I fertilized and raked it smooth. And sifted a wheelbarrow of compost to cover it in. While I was at it I finished sifting the rest of the compost to empty the bin. All the finished compost is in one of my black composters awaiting the next time I need it. And I now have an empty pallet bin which is good as all my others are full.

I planted the bed up half with parsnips under a row cover to keep the soil moist as they sprout, and half with the start of some turnips. I made ten rows for the turnips and will seed two rows every Monday. Well that is the plan. You all know that it doesn't always happen. So far my successions have gone well though. I'm hoping the when the sixth Monday comes up the first rows I seeded will be ready to come out. Turnips are not like radishes though. Radishes come right on schedule for me. Turnips ripen here and there. So I'm guessing I'll be picking some, but not others and I'll have a gap in the sowing. But that is fine. As soon as it empties I'll start the rotation again.

I'm a bit worried about the turnips. I had uncovered kale in this bed. I could see a horde of root maggot flies hovering around. They must be able to smell all the kale roots. I tried to shoo as many away as I could, but I'm sure I missed some. I might have maggoty turnips. I'll go out again before they sprout and do some more shooing. Maybe it will work. Just parsnips would be a much better rotation, but parsnips are still experimental and I don't want to use a full bed on them. And I really want more turnips.


  1. Your new kale looks perfect, I'm sure that made it much easier to pull out the overwintered bunch. That mache really was small, mine gets to be at least a foot and a half tall when it's in full bloom.

  2. Your spring kale looks great. I planted it in spring for the first time too and I'm happy with mine. Your succession plan for the turnips sounds like a good idea. I haven't done spring planted ones, though the white Asian types are so fast they would be good candidates for it.

  3. Whenever I have grown Turnips I have always found them to be very susceptible to maggots. Likewise, Brassicas very often fall prey to Cabbage Root Fly. These days I put lots of faith in commercially-supplied nematodes. They seem to do a pretty good job.

  4. Your spring kale looks great. I only had kale survive one winter (and certainly not this winter), so I always plan on new plantings.

  5. It seem that we are all being plagued by unwelcome garden pests.

  6. So let me chime in too - beautiful kale!

    As soon as I scrolled down to the compost photo, even before I saw the caption, my first thought was - there's a mouse in the compost bin! And all this talk of maggots on turnips is making me nervous - I'll have to check to see if there are any flies under my netting.