the old man and the sea kale

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to talk about the subject of my pretty hysterical title. You may remember me from such similarly-hysterical posts as “The Sun Was Out”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.
I’m checking on the progress of the buffalo grass, as you can see. It needs more rain. The grasses behind me are Sporobolus airoides. Yes, right in the middle of the lawn. That’s what we call “advanced horticulture” around here.
The solar lamp doesn’t work, if you wanted to know. The panels on top deteriorated years ago.

It rained today. Here’s proof.
Practically a downpour, as you can see.

The guy I live with said that our windy and dry weather is caused by something called “La Niña” and that our summer will probably be pretty dry, which isn’t all that unusual. The wind is, but we haven’t had much lately.

The native shrubs in the garden are doing just as well as they always do, because they’re adapted to the vagaries of our climate, and all the bulbs certainly are, but there are always some plants which do well no matter what.their native habitat is. You always hear about plants that only grow in a certain habitat and so obviously they need those conditions in the garden in order to survive, but that’s almost never true, with obvious exceptions. If it were true, nobody could grow anything except plants native within a few miles of their garden.

The guy I live with posted a picture of Mahonia fremontii on Facebook; this is a slightly different picture; you can see how happy it is. This is a plant native to deserty places and pinyon-juniper woodland in the American southwest, and yet Reginald Farrer mentioned growing in it his book My Rock Garden (I think), in Gloucestershire, as alien a climate for this plant as growing bananas at the South Pole. (I’m quoting the guy I live with, here.)

I know, from the constant talking that goes on around here (it’s like background noise, or Muzak), that the guy I live with really isn’t interested in growing a lot of plants that other gardeners grow (except for super-rare bulbs, which are an entirely different story), but for some reason he bought a plant of the sea kale, Crambe maritima, and planted it right in the middle of what used to be called “the great lawn” here, and it’s doing very well.
This is a plant native to what the English weirdly call “shingle”, which we would call something like pea gravel or a bit larger, on beaches in Europe, and you can see it in pictures of the late Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness here:

The sea kale is a long way from home, growing here.
The guy I live with says that people say the leaves are edible, just like they say regular kale is edible. He has a different opinion.

Well, anyway, this is one of my mostly plant-related posts. I don’t have much else to report. Oh, except that the weather forecast says that this coming Friday night will feature temperatures at or below freezing. On the twenty-first day of May. The guy I live with said that was pretty funny. We’re used to this sort of thing.

The orioles are back, but there are no pictures of them, because they’re so skittish. They make a lot of racket, demanding grape jelly all day long. They get it, too.
And I haven’t seen the muskrat since the first time we saw it. I’ll leave you with a picture of me on the way to search for the muskrat.

Until next time, then.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to the old man and the sea kale

  1. Paddy Tobin says:

    Pass on this tip to the man: it is the practice to cover the plants in spring with something which excludes light – an upturned rubbish (trash?) bin would do the job. This “forces” the kale into growth and the soft blanched shoots are later cut, cooked and eaten. From childhood, kale was grown as a winter fodder crop for cattle and, I believe, that continues to be its most appropriate use.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says “Yum”. He likes most foods, but draws the line at kale, those gray spongy balls of beef, shrimp, etc., in Thai soups (Thai food is his favorite, except for those), and a few other things.

  2. Sea kale is one of the plants I have tried several times, but each time it is completely decimated by rodents (mice or voles) over winter. Maybe it’s time to try again. Some day I also want to try Mahonia fremontii again too, but sadly it doesn’t seem to like our mucky wet clay in winter. Interesting that your Ribes aureum does so well in dry conditions. Around here it is sold as a riparian plant that needs moist soil to survive. Now I am going to trial it in a few drier areas around the yard to see how it does.

    • paridevita says:

      The ribes is native here and pops up in all kinds of places, but we do find it growing along the creek.
      It takes very dry conditions and shows no effects from drought.
      We don’t have voles here, thanks to yours truly the Vole Hunter, but we do have a lot of mice in the garden.
      The guy I live with grew Crambe cordifolia for years, but it eventually died for some reason. Also C. orientalis, but that died when the guy I live with dumbly transplanted it.

  3. “A-huntin you will go, a-huntin you will go, Hi Ho THE derrio, A-huntin Mani goess….”
    Wee hope you find THE Muskrat!
    THE Freemontii flowerss are beeuteefull….
    An wee did NOT know Kale plantss flowered! (BellaSita Mum does NOT like eatin Kale!)
    Wee reeleeved Wind stopped blowin so much there!
    An look 46 raindropss….Guud Greef!!
    An chilley tempyturess?? Colorado iss like Northern Ontario where wee are!!! Well wee not xactlee NORTH butt sorta North 😉
    Happy trailss Mani an Guy!
    ~~~head rubsss~~~BellaDharma~~~ an ((hugss)) BellaSita Mum

    • paridevita says:

      It isn’t the same kale as the kind you find it stores, but sort of related to it.
      They say it’s going to get wet and cold this weekend, but the guy I live with is dubious. Also, he does have his camera out when we go by the bend in the canal, but we haven’t seen the muskrat again.

      • Me mew mew wee not know our Kale from our Kale Mani 😉
        CATFISH!!! Wee hope it iss NOT wet an cold there this weekend! Iss apposta bee *hot* an sunny here all weekend. Butt wee know how fickell THE weather can bee!?!
        Pawss crossed you see Muskrat again…hee or shee iss cute!

  4. Lisa says:

    I wouldn’t try sea kale, because I have no use for regular kale. It’s called a “super food,” but no thanks! Good muskrat hunting. I saw a muskrat once; at least the tail end of it as it slid into a pond.

    • paridevita says:

      There was a muskrat here for some years. I even saw it. Now there’s another one.
      The guy I live with said he cooked laciniato kale when his wife was here, and neither of them liked it. He likes all the other related vegetables, though; broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.

  5. tonytomeo says:

    The guy you live with might remember perennial collards from Los Angeles. Well, they might be popular elsewhere also. I only remember them from Watts, within Los Angeles. They were common, and cuttings of it were traditional house warming gifts. I am not sold on any of the kales, but I do miss collards.

  6. Elaine says:

    Mani, so good to see you up and about. Lots of nice things happening in your garden despite the dry conditions. It has been very dry here as well but we finally got a really good shower yesterday and more expected tomorrow. However, frost on the ground this morning. It’s a weird Spring but we too are used to very odd Spring weather.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. The guy I live with said we’re getting fire warning weather tomorrow, and then it might snow, and freeze, too.
      It’s becoming hard to keep up with what the weather is doing here. This is certainly the strangest spring I’ve ever seen, and the guy I live with says he doesn’t remember one this hot and dry.

  7. Mark E. Mazer says:

    Late spring wet and heavy snow…. a blessing during droughty times.

  8. bittster says:

    Best title ever, and love the kale. I’ve only killed it twice so maybe it’s time for a third attempt. Hopefully yours can stand up to snow.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. Yes, the sea kale is fine. The guy I live with promised not to steam it and serve it to me.
      The plants farthest away from the one in front are growing in very heavy clay, the subsoil from somewhere else that was spread around the house when the nice native soil was carted away when the house foundation was dug.

Comments are closed.