by Charlene Burgi
The weather reports predict snow this weekend at a 500 foot elevation. That means many areas in Marin could be covered in the pristine white fluff. As beautiful as snow is, our plants may not find it so inviting! Providing winter protection for your plants may be the first task at hand if you removed it during the warm spell we experienced earlier this month.
First, pick ripe lemons and oranges from your citrus trees bearing fruit. The prolonged cold spell could freeze the fruit and render them worthless. The fruit will last a long time once harvested. Spray on a polymer coating that holds moisture in plants in extreme temperatures and protects newly formed buds from shriveling. This type of product can be found at your local nursery. Please check the directions for the approved temperature range before spraying. Next, protect frost-tender plants with tents constructed of sheets or material and lodge poles. You risk losing any leaves touching the fabric, but the effort could save the plant from freezing. Last, but not least, wrap all exposed pipes and backflow devices. If the stores are out of pipe insulation, use rags or old towels and wrap with plastic to keep the material dry. Secure in place with duct tape.
When the chores are complete, take time to relax. This past weekend, before I left for our ranch in Lassen County, my son offered me this bit of advice: “Sometimes you really need to be a vegetable, but choose kale; it’s so hearty.” His words sent me scrabbling to the computer to see just how hardy is kale. Much to my surprise, I found a website, kale.us, that offers recipes, nutritional information and directions on growing kale. And it is hardy, healthy and tasty! While surfing for kale information, I also came across this soup at allrecipes.com. It looks like a recipe my Italian grandmothers would have prepared. Perhaps you might want to have this soup bubbling away while you’re outside protecting your plants:
Vegetarian Kale Soup
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 8
2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 T chopped garlic
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
8 cups water
6 cubes vegetable bouillon
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 white potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cans white cannellini beans drained
1 T Italian seasoning
2 T chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot; cook the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the kale and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the water, vegetable bouillon, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, Italian seasoning and parsley. Simmer soup on medium heat for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reminder: Our Bay-Friendly Gardening workshop series kicks off tomorrow. What better way to spend a wintry Saturday than planning your garden? Join us for Bay-Friendly Basics, 9:00 a.m. – noon in the MMWD Board Room at 220 Nellen Avenue in Corte Madera. Find details and register here.