May Walking Tour – Cool Season Vegetables
By Ebi Kondo, Associate Director & Curator of Japanese Garden
Mid-April is the time we start planting spring vegetables in Le Potager. All the vegetables have been propagated from seeds during the cold winter days in our greenhouse by our talented propagation team – there are so many baby vegetables waiting to be planted outside!
We grow two types of crops in Le Potager:
- Cool season vegetables (such as cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, kale and spinach), which love cool weather in the spring and fall.
- Warm season vegetables (such as tomato, eggplant, pepper and squash), which love the warm temperatures from late spring to summer.
After the long winter we want to see some bright colors in the gardens. I have planted cool season vegetables with bright colors, which complement the cheerful pansies and the Johnny-jump-up violets.
- Purple pak-choi: Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis ‘Purple Magic’
- Cute mini pak-choi: Brassiae rapa ssp. chinensis ‘Petite Star’
- Fancy purple mizuna (Japanese watercress): Brassica juncea ‘Miz America’
- Purple mustard green: Brassica juncea ‘Garnet Giant’
Because these crops are ready to be harvested in a month, it is convenient for us to plant them in raised beds, so we easily rotate our crops multiple times in one growing season. Also, planting in raised beds protects crops from rabbits, who have voracious appetites (they have not figured out how to jump into the raised beds yet…).
Kale is a highly productive crop – I must have them every year in Le Potager. Since they grow the entire growing season and get big, I prefer to plant them in the ground rather than in a raised bed.
- Kale: Brassica oleracea ‘Redbor’ and Brassica oleracea ‘Black Magic’
To protect the newly planted young kale from rabbits and geese, we place nets over the crops.
Spring weather is unpredictable as we often get a late freeze. However, these cool season crops will withstand the cold temperatures. When the evening temperature dips below freezing, they can be easily protected by covering with a frost cloth overnight.