Most of them are Cut and Come Again types!
Harvest your big greens – kale and collards, and lettuces, leaf by leaf rather than cutting your plant down. Many lettuces will ‘come back’ even if you cut them off an inch or two above ground. Leave the stalk in the ground, see what happens! Rather than pulling your bunch/table onions, cut them off about an inch to 2 inches above the ground. They will come back 3 to 4 times. After you cut the main broccoli head off, let the side sprouts grow and snip them for your salads or steam them. Cut cabbages off right below the head, then let them resprout, forming several smaller heads at the leaf axils. Potatoes? Leave a potato in the ground to make more potatoes.
Artichokes! Marilyn Monroe was crowned Artichoke Queen in 1948! An artichoke respirates differently from most other vegetables – it “breathes” better in our cool weather. Virtually 100 percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California, 3/4 of those grown in Monterey County, nearly a third of those harvested March through May.
You have to want these babies! Not only are they strange and beautiful, they are BIG! A healthy mature ‘choke can easily take a 6’ diameter footprint. Do you want to use that much space for the return you get? It likes deep, fertile, well-drained soil; plant bare root so the crown is just above the soil surface. The perennial Green Globe is the dominant variety grown, harvested 5 to 10 seasons!!!!
Beets & Chard: The wrinkled beet/chard ‘seedballs’ are practically indistinguishable! Each seedball has 2 to 4 seeds, so you get as many as 4 plants per seed! At 4” to 5” tall, thinning with little scissors is easiest. They make tasty salad greens! Don’t pull because that may damage the neighboring plant’s roots. Avoid crowding your plants, and try not to wet the leaves. Water underneath and early in the day so wet leaves can dry well. That helps avoid diseases. Leafminers are the most common pest. Cover plants with fine netting or cheesecloth or floating row cover to protect them from adult flies. Handpick and destroy infested (mined) leaves. Control weeds. Beet and chard greens are super high in Vitamin A, and low calorie! When young, each can be used in salads, later on steamed is quite delicious. Harvest your beets young for tenderness.
Carrots: Plant your seeds in a flat low walled trench to hold moisture so your seeds stay damp and germinate sooner. The low sloping walls of your trench keep soil from filling the trench when you water, burying your seeds too deep. If you planted too close, just wait until they are miniature carrots and pull them to thin to the space you want. Tasty on-the-spot treats! Poke the soil back around the one that is left. Carrots enhance peas.
Celery: Needs lots of water to avoid bitterness. Plant near a water spigot or in a low spot, with other water lovers.
Lettuces: Lettuces LOVE winter temps and full sun! Plant all kinds! Many of them are as beautiful as flowers. Tuck them in here and there as fillers. Keep them well watered. Harvest the lowest leaves, they will keep right on producing!
Broccoli: Brocs are a hefty plant, so you can imagine they need good fat soil, and being fed some during the season. Cut the main head off just as it starts to loosen. Cut the stem at an angle so water runs off if, not down into the stem of the plant as the cut dries. This prevents rot. Use the leaves as greens or let the plant continue to grow. Many little sideshoot brocs will grow, perfect size for salads, or steamed! The flowers are edible, just sprinkle them on your salad. Broccoli is a biennial, but will grow even 3 years. Fresh is more nutritious than cooked.
Cabbage: Because cabbages are making such a dense head, they are one of the most efficient winter plants per the space they take up! Because their leaves are so tightly together you don’t realize how much plant you are feeding! Give them great soil and feed them well. Once your transplant is in the ground, or your young plant up a bit, step on the soil around it to make the soil firm to hold your heavy plant upright. That also packs nutrients right where they can get them! Cut the head small if you can’t eat a giant head and don’t want to freeze it, prefer it fresh. More smaller heads will grow if you cut the first head off just above the lowest leaves. I like my cabbages bigger, so I just put in more new plants.
Next week one of those topics of necessity – Real Gardening – Mice, Rats, Desperation