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I'm always excited to see the first cool snap of the season. There's something about a cool morning in the fall that is invigorating, especially after the dog days of summer. Fortunately, for our area, this summer has seen more moisture than normal with greener pastures and lawns.

Such is not always the case for northwest Arkansas. Usually, in August you can relax about the mowing and still keep your lawn looking nice, but this year, except for one brief period, I have had to keep on top of the mowing in order to keep the grass from gaining the upper hand. And sometimes it was a challenge to find time to mow between rains. But now we are moving into a cooler time of year and the mowing will be a more pleasant pastime for sure. And soon enough we will cease all mowing operations for this year.

I have not put much effort into gardening this year for whatever reason, but we had tomatoes and garlic and potatoes and asparagus and kale. In fact, the kale has been tremendous. Normally, I would broadcast seed for kale or collards or mustard greens, etc., but this year we bought six kale plants at Ozark Natural Foods. I think we bought them back in early March sometime. I do remember they got frosted a few times, but kale is hardy and all six plants survived.

As the season progressed, we would cut the lower leaves for salads or for cooking. This allowed the new leaves to continue to put out and grow. And if we couldn't keep up with the growth by eating the leaves ourselves, I would prune them back and feed the large leaves to the sheep and goats. They love kale and collards, which makes them more human in my opinion.

Now the kale has grown rather tall (30 inches according to Linda's tape measure) and, since we have continued to prune the lower leaves, the plants look like miniature palm trees. They are simply tall bare stalks with a few leaves on top. You know, the sort of thing you could imagine growing on Mars. To tell the truth, the plants are almost embarrassingly ugly and most assuredly odd looking. The stalks are as big as my wrists which, if you know me, you know are pretty big.

And the plants just keep on producing. I'm curious to see how long they go on making new leaves and how well they handle the cold weather. I'm of the opinion that frost makes kale and collards taste sweeter, so I intend to test that theory (which isn't a theory at all since we grew up proving it over and over) this fall and winter. But, honestly, they have tasted pretty good all summer.

I do have some collards and mustard greens coming on for fall and winter eating. They are good in fresh salads or cooked and eaten with cornbread and radishes and onions and pepper sauce. Oh, the joys of eating all things Southern! And if kale plants seem to grow large, that's nothing to what a mustard plant will do. At least according to Jesus, who ought to know since He created them. So we know that, left to themselves, some of these plants will get large enough for the birds to build their nests in.

Kale and collards are very similar in that both are non-heading cabbage, with kale having curly leaves and collards producing a smooth leaf. Nutritionally, kale may have a small edge over collards, but both sit on top of the nutritional food chain. And I mean of all foods in the world. And, if you are a fact-checker, you can check that sort of thing if you want to.

And yes, I start sentences with conjunctions. And yes, that's exactly why not many English teachers write best sellers. But I digress. Happy gardening!

Sam Byrnes is a Gentry-area resident and weekly contributor to the Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at sambyrnes57@gmail.com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 09/12/2018

Print Headline: Fall is just around the corner

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