Keen on Kale

Colorado State Univ. Field DayIt used to be relegated to garnish status, if you could find it at all. Kale’s strong flavor placed it in last place when compared to its more appealing relatives such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. Even the oft-hated Brussels sprouts were more popular. But now, kale is finally getting the accolades it deserves. From kale smoothies to the seared kale I enjoyed at a restaurant recently, its showing up everywhere. With its abundant nutrients and new, milder flavor, kale might be the “trendy veggie” of the decade.

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Tiny Black, Jumping Leaf-chompers

Flea beetle damage on bok choy_BlkForest-CO_LAH_3411 Our family loves bok choy, so I always plant at least one block of the baby variety. And every year I harvest bok choy that looks as if it’s been peppered with buckshot. I can explain that I washed the leaves and they’re perfectly safe to eat, but really—who wants to eat leaves that were eaten by something else first? Ewww.

The culprit behind all those holes is an aggravating insect called a Flea Beetle. No, they aren’t really fleas, and they only bite plants, not people. If you look closely, you’ll see they’re shaped like beetles (fleas are vertically flattened). Still, they are very small, dark brown to black, and they can jump—just like fleas. And just like fleas, they can drive you crazy.

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Plant Fall Crops Now

Plant? NOW?

brusselssprouts_dbg_lah_7726Temperatures are climbing into the 90s, your spring-planted crops are reaching maturity, and you’re excited about garden fresh salads and new potatoes. Besides harvesting your bounty, there are millions of weeds to be pulled, poisoned, or decapitated. The last thing on your mind is planting more seeds.

In more benign climates, fall crops go in at the end of the summer, after the worst heat has passed. Our short season demands that we plant fall crops earlier, to give them time to mature before the snow flies. Now is the time.

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Cool Crops

misting-lettuce-seedlings-lahAt last! After a long winter wait, it’s finally time to get outside, crumble some soil in our fingers, and dig in. Yes, it’s finally time to plant our vegetable gardens—or at least the first crops. While we need to wait a bit longer for frost-tender plants, there are many cool season vegetables that can handle cold nights and a bit of frost. Here are some crops that you can transplant or direct seed into the garden right now.

There are three types of peas, and this is a great time to plant all of them. They prefer cool weather, and need to mature before the heat of summer stunts their growth. Select varieties that mature quickly. Most grow on dwarf vines, two to three feet tall. They will need some support—try some chicken wire or netting stretched along a fence or between two posts.

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