Long live the veg
Kitchen Garden|June 2021
Most vegetables we grow are treated as annuals and once harvested that is the end of them. What if you could keep some of them going for longer? Stephanie Hafferty has some ideas
Stephanie Hafferty
Being of a thrifty disposition and always looking for ways to save time in the garden, I like to make my plants last as long as possible, maximising the productivity of every seed and space in my plot. These suggestions are beneficial for wildlife as well as the pocket and also help to encourage a healthy soil, because root systems left in the soil benefit a wide range of soil flora and fauna. One of the ways I do this is by ‘perennialising’ edible plants which we mostly think of as annuals. Some of my favourites are cavolo nero, also known as Tuscan kale, cabbages, celery and Florence fennel. The two main ways of doing this are by cutting and picking. Kale will last for two years or more if picked hard and, when the flower shoots start to appear, remove those too. The plants will look a bit sorrowful for a while, but soon new leaves will start to appear for harvesting. These are usually not as large as the first harvests, but they still taste good. I make the most of the space underneath the kale during this time by sowing annual edible flowers such as violas or calendula, or herbs such as coriander, dill or parsley.

CROSSCUT CABBAGE

When you cut cabbages, cauliflowers and some other brassicas you are left with a stump. If you make a cross cut in the top of this with a sharp knife you should get some regrowth from this point. These can be harvested as loose leaves or some shoots may resemble sprouting broccoli if left longer. These can usually last around two years before dying back.

CELERY AND FENNEL

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