Coming around again

by threegirlpileup

I’ve said it before–around here, kale is the vegetable that keeps on giving.  And giving.  This fall, I planted some red winter kale, and it produced steadily all winter long.  Somewhere in April, though, it gave up the ghost, bolting and producing flowers.

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Honestly, I didn’t pay it much mind.  There was so much else to do in the garden, and with the abundance of lettuce and spinach, the kale got a bit sidelined.  The flowers were pretty, so I just enjoyed watching it do its thing.

And boy did it do its thing!  After putting out the flowers, it produced a truly astonishing number of seed pods.  Anna and I finally harvested them last week, and got down to collecting some seeds to plant again this coming fall.

Anna’s favorite technique was to grab a bunch of pods and shake them until the seeds fell out…

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..and then collect them off the deck.

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Fortunately, there were so many seeds that we didn’t need to worry about collecting every last one.  As it is, I think we have enough seeds to feed the whole neighborhood kale for the winter.

As we were sitting on the deck together, Anna turned to me and said, “Mommy, I think homeschooling is the best way.  You get to learn stuff and spend time with your family.”  We talked about the various techniques for harvesting seeds, about the different kinds of seeds that come out of the garden (“peas are seeds? are you sure?”), about plants and flowers and our plans for the garden.

Steve laughed at me a little when I proudly announced that we had collected our own kale seeds, so we could plant these instead of buying new ones.  As if the price of a packet of seeds was going to break the bank.  (He chuckles similarly when I speak of putting up produce for the winter, as if we’ll starve if I don’t get enough strawberries frozen.)  And while the frugality appeals to me, it’s more about the feeling of closing the circle, of really taking the process from beginning to end–and sharing that with the girls.  I think it helps give them a deeper understanding not only of plant life cycles but also how we grow our own food.  We currently have popcorn growing in the garden from seeds that Maggie painstakingly removed from the cob last summer, and there’s something especially satisfying about seeing those plants get taller and taller.

I think we’re really going to enjoy eating that popcorn.  The kale, well, that’s still grown-up food in this house.  I can live with that.

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