Choices… as your cool season veggies go to seed

Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

by Sandy Swegel

Gardening is always about choices.

There are the early choices about what to plant.
Choices about whether to treat pests.
Choices about when to harvest.

Now as your cool-season greens and herbs and alliums go to seed, you have some choices.

Your first choice is more food. If you are growing your garden primarily to feed yourself, you need to harvest as the market farmers do. When it’s time to cut kale, you don’t just take a few leaves, You get your knife and cut that plant to within two inches of the soil. That shocks leafy greens that they immediately triple leaf production and you will get two more big harvests out of each plant. Ruthless cutting produces more food.

Your other choice is for beauty and generosity. If you let some of those plants bolt and put out seed heads, you end up with a garden that generously feeds the pollinators and butterflies and birds with flowers and seed heads. The swallowtail butterflies ignored all the dill I planted for them and congregated on one old parsley plant to lay their eggs. The nature creatures have reasons for choosing we don’t always understand.


But Beauty is why I make my choice this week for letting edibles go to seed.

With the rain this year, bolted lettuce is statuesque. They are four feet high and visible across the yard. Purple Merlot lettuce at this size is stunning next to the sweet peas. The dill is taller than me in the well-watered garden and surrounds all the tomatoes like protective warriors. Yellow mustard flowers and white arugula flowers lean out across the walk begging to be nibbled. Broccoli heads opening up into flowers are beguiling.

So once again you have a choice. You can go out in the hot sun and tidy up your garden, or you can let Nature’s idea of Beauty run amok.


Photo Credit broccoli, Todd Dwyer

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