Second season kale

I have the most elegant compost heap.

I always let the poppies self-seed and grow in the raised beds to attract the pollinating insects in Spring.

But there is a moment when you realise that you have more poppy than veg.

And inside the kale raised bed they were really putting pressure on the available light.

I let everything self seed in there – sweet peas, coriander, Swiss chard, poppies. They all have to fight it out and the butchest plant wins.

But I really only want to savour this overwintered kale.

The poppies needed to be rogued out and the kale given more room.

Some of the cavolo Nero plants will go up to flower and set seed. There is no logic to which ones will or won’t. But some of the plants are in a drier condition and more neglected and stressed. So I try and let these ones set seed so I can harvest and start again.

And the rest I just pick and pick and pick. It is the only member of the cabbage family that is impervious to snow and neglect and cold.

If the stalks are still juicy they can be treated just like asparagus on a cast iron grill. Hot heat and a squeeze of lemon.

But if there is too much poppy in the way you can’t spot the rogue caterpillar or flowering stalk and it becomes an almighty mess.

Particularly during this lush cool spring with endless storms, but hurrah, no hail.


You find yourself pushing past the jungle of foliage. And you do have to wait patiently while the huge bees stagger off from a one poppy flower to the next.

But unlike many gardens, I am blessed with blossom. And the bees and insects have heaps. So I wait and wait and then just say ‘for heavens sake go and pollinate the kiwi fruit on the back of the potager wall instead’.

And yank lots out.

I liberated half a raised bed this way and was able, at last to plant out the basil.

This kiwi is quite the adventure. Tendrils climbing up the wall, along the edge, into the fig. I could make rope out of the stems. Thank goodness I have sturdy wire support for it to scramble along some of the chosen horizontal space.

And it has finally come into flower.

I’ve never seen kiwis in flower before. Mainly because it just didn’t for the first years and years and years. And only now that I can reach the plant and actually spend time near the new raised beds do I get to see them.

I wish the bees would.

Just look at that pollen. Surely, surely I will get some fruit.

I promise updates the moment I get a whiff of setting fruit.