Thursday, June 11, 2009


"Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink," cried the Ancient Mariner. "Green growth all around," I think to myself, standing in the midst of the burgeoning backyard, "and barely a bite to eat." Only a few lettuce leaves, a handful of peas, some arugula are worth bringing in as dinner fare. It's the time of waiting -- as the winter garden goes to seed and the summer plantings are not yet harvestable.

As always there is plenty to marvel at: the kale plants, for instance. Bold stalks between three feet and six feet tall are in various stages of seed production. "Going to seed" is a process with many stages.

Stage 1: Here's a three-footer with a demure little bouquet of buds in the center.

Stage 2: As the stalk grows -- this one is taller than I am -- the bouquet of buds lengthens out into a spiky spiral of short stems with a yellow blossom at the tip of each stem.

Stage 3: Over six feet tall, waving in the breeze, a self-contained forest of elegant pods carries hundreds of seeds for next year's kale harvests.

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