I went to my local Italian grocer this week and chose seed packs for the contest. I tried to stick with varieties that winners can grow in a variety of conditions whether that’s location/climate, season, small spaces, big spaces, and containers. Some of these can be direct sown and some should be started indoors. Something for everyone!
Italian seed packets tend to be very generous and these are no exception. Each packet contains enough seed to sow a farm or share with several friends.
Below you’ll find write-ups on each variety that I chose. Many of these varieties have become available through companies that sell heirloom seed, but I still find that Spigarello is not commonly available. My local grocer didn’t sell it last year and I was so glad when they listened to my pleas and stocked it again for 2013.
There is still time to enter the contest but you must do so over here. Enjoy!
The reality of leaving the garden during the growing season is that you will come home to some small or large disaster. You roll with the punches, accept the losses, or you never leave home. I love my garden, but since travel is a part of my job (and one that I enjoy), I have had to do some adept rolling as well as learn a bit of acceptance along the way. I also try to plan my trips for cooler parts of the season when my constant attention is unneccessary.
I have just returned from a trip to Georgia to an aphid infestation of epic proportions on two of my Spigarello plants. Of course, they are my favourite two. The prettiest two. The two I am allowing to bolt so I can harvest seed. Were this a Sophie’s Choice situation I would say without hesitation, “Take the ones at the back of the garden. Heck, take ALL OF the kale if you must. We’re pretty much sick of it anyways.”
But no. Alas, we gardeners do not get to choose which plants the pests will descend upon. And often times they want the very plants we want to keep most. That is how it goes. I have loads of nasturtiums in my garden right now (a known aphid attractant), and amazingly enough they are completely unscathed. Nary an aphid in sight.
Photo of me in my community garden taken by Davin Risk.
Spigarello aka Spigariello is an old Italian heirloom leafy green that I grew last year. Some refer to it as broccoli rabe and others call it “leaf broccoli.” Both descriptions are apt. I’d put it somewhere between kale and broccoli.
The plant grows just like kale, but produces small broccoli-like florets late in the season. Every part of the plant is edible and tastes like broccoli. The new growth is tender enough to eat raw right off the plant. I sometimes munched on it as I worked.