Davis Garden Show, Sept. 16, 2021, Brassicas -- a one-plant wonder



'Tis a time of CHANGE!  Weather is cooler, season is later ... For some folks, it's time to cut down the cucumber vines and plant some brassicas. For others (like Don), there are still tomatoes ripening to harvest into October. What's your plan for a winter garden? Now is a good time to plant peas, lettuce, brassicas, and other cool seaon vegetablees.  You can also plan to put "cover crops" on the portion of your summer garden that you don't plan to plant for the winter -- to keep down weeds and improve your soil.

Don's Davis Enterprise article "Of Cabbages and Kings" explains why we can have such a wide diversity of vegetables from JUST ONE SPECIES! -- Brassica oleracea. Here is its little-known history ...  "Strolling along the windswept limestone cliffs of southern and western Europe, in places where salt spray limited the growth of other plants and temperatures were usually mild but cool, one of our forebears evidently noticed that the leaves of a common plant were edible. Bitter, a little skunky smelling, fibrous, but edible. ...  "

"Subsequent generations discovered that the flower buds were more tender than the leaves. That the leaves were sweeter after a frost. That plants could be selected for larger leaves. That under certain conditions the plant would form a large head that was packed with even more tender leaves, which were sweeter and less bitter. That these could be stored whole or could be pickled. That the growth buds could be cooked separately, and the plant would keep growing and producing more of them. Later, even more tender flower heads were found and selected, including one with flower buds arranged in a striking fractal pattern. Odd forms with swollen stems were selected just for those turnip-like organs. Large forms with ruffled leaves emerged."

The vegetables described above are: kale and collard greens, gai-lan, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, romanesco, kohlrabi, and savoy cabbage.  And the human selections leading to those various veggies happened over thousands of years. Hurray for Brassicas!!

On another topic:  "It's not your fault!" Don Shor shares info on fiddleleaf fig problems (a bacterial growth) and how some diseases accompany certain species when you buy them. (Shhh...  Insider info about the nursery trade in this one.) 

And more questions ...

PS: Here's the link to that archive Lois talked about.

PPS: Lois and Don talk details about plants from San Diego in Lois' show "That's Life" this week. Listen at:  https://kdrt.org/audio/thats-life-plants-san-diego for that, and  https://kdrt.org/programs/thats-life for others from Lois Richter.



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