30 April 2011

Harvesting green things

You might think it's funny that I'm already talking about harvesting good things to eat out in the garden — but that's how nice our April weather has been. In March, we planted cool weather crops like radishes, leeks, salad greens, and "bitter" greens. In this part of France, we don't set out frost-sensitive plants like tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers until after May 15.

Today we'll be eating some of our greens. We've been having radishes for a couple of weeks, and we're waiting for salad greens and leeks. I thought we'd be waiting for the other greens too, and I was planning to transplant at least some of them about now. I've grown collard greens and mustard greens.

Mustard and collard greens growing in the garden

I grew them under a cold frame, planting them in early March, before I left for my trip to North Carolina. When I got back a month ago, the collards and mustard were up. In preparation for transplanting them, I read a little about them in a couple of books and on the Internet. You see, I planted them under a little cold frame, so they are really bunched up.

The greens grew under a cold frame, which I have now removed.

The things I've read say that mustard greens are ready to harvest about 30 to 40 days after the seeds are sown. Well, that would be now. So instead of transplanting them, we'll pull them up, cook them, and eat some. I know from experience that mustard greens often bolt really early and quickly in hot weather, so we might as well take advantage of the tender young greens now.

I have this plot all prepared to receive the collard greens
that I will transplant today.

As for the collard greens, I'll also harvest and cook some, because they really need to be thinnned out. But I'll also transplant some of them in the plot you see in my pictures, which I have weeded and worked by hand over the past few days. I've transplanted collards and chard before with good results, so I'm hoping they'll take. Spread out, the collard plants should grow big and bushy over the next couple of months. I only neeed six or eight plants.

Callie the collie eats her greens nearly every morning and afternoon when we go out to walk. She has certain varieties of grass that she evidently finds appetizing and that must be soothing to her digestive system.

Bertie the cat brought us a present. I've never seen one of
these alive and didn't know they lived around Saint-Aignan.

Now Bertie the black cat has started eating green things too. He's not much of a vegetable-eater, though. The picture above shows the green things he prefers: lizards. This is at least the second one he has brought home this spring. As you can see, this time he didn't actually eat it — he just left it on the floor of the garage for us to admire. Here it is on Wikipedia.


  1. Round us all the live lizards are tailess, thanks to Katinka and Shadow!
    Not sure if either of them ever eat the ones they catch but we do find corpses.

  2. Ah, proof that you are truly his family. Soon, birds and mice will join the lizards.

  3. So this lizard survived his close encounter of the cat kind? Will the little guy will be reintroduced into the wild?

    Ken, what did you mean when you said the greens would "bolt?"

  4. We have them in abundance here, but I don't think Bertie would be messing with them because they're about five times the size of the ones you have over there.

  5. Hi Ellen, oh, we have had birds and mice already. And this is at least the second lizard.

    Diogenes, by "bolt" I mean send up flower stalks. Then the plant dies back.

    The poor lizard did not survive...

  6. Ken, have you tried the radish tops?
    When you pick your own the tops are in better condition than the stall bought ones... but all cook down like your mustard greens.
    Get two veg for one!

  7. Hello Tim, in past years we've made pesto with radish tops. Quite good.


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