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These cool-season foods start producing right around the time I’m about to plant my warm-season foods in mid-May and June. So, it’s like getting a jump start on your garden-fresh meals for the year.
In this Fiskars Hanging Garden, I’m growing strawberries (top); ‘Bulls Blood’ red beets (middle); and a mix of kale plants (bottom). All these plants grow well with high quality potting soil, well-balanced organic fertilizers and full sun.
Kale thrives in cool temperatures, and will overwinter in many moderate climates or with good protection. So, with some luck, you could be eating healthy kale all winter long, right into spring.
Beets can be planted directly in the garden, two inches apart, about one month before your last spring frost date. Although beets do germinate in cool soil, they perform best when soil temperatures are higher than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people eat beets for the roots, but I also eat the beet greens, as I would Swiss chard or spinach in quiches, casseroles, scrambled eggs and soups.
Strawberries are the first fruit to arrive in spring, and we already have one piece of fruit to harvest!
There are two major types of strawberries to grow – June-bearing and day-neutral. June-bearing strawberries need a full season before they start producing, but the fruit tastes so delicious, they are worth the wait. Day-neutral strawberries will produce a full crop the year they are planted. I’m growing day-neutral strawberries, because that’s what my garden center was offering.
You may want to grow one of each type, so you can get day-neutral strawberries right away, while waiting for those delicious June-bearing strawberries to ripen next year.
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a bigger harvest, so I can start adding strawberries to cereals, smoothies and fruit salads.
As for my kale plants, I’ve already started to harvest the baby leaves to add to different meals, such as stews, soups and casseroles.
In fact, I cut tiny pieces of kale with my Fiskars Herb and Veggie Shears to add the bits of leaves to homemade pizza. It’s an easy and delicious way to add more nutrients to our family meals.
Incidentally, I could have done this same thing with the red beet leaves, which would have looked attractive with these orange tomatoes and peppers. Oh well, I’ll have to do that next time.
Maybe soon I’ll make a warm kale and beet green salad with pine nuts and vinaigrette featuring fresh strawberries. That’s the nice thing about growing your own food, you can always experiment with different ways to add these delicious, home-grown ingredients to your family meals.
So, start planting early, and go wild, folks!