Red Russian Kale, and tips for planting onion sets and reusing old plant labels

One of the best things about March, apart from the clocks going forward of course, is Red Russian Kale.   It grows generously this month, producing wonderful tender leaves and delicious flower shoots that are better than purple sprouting.  If you could only grow one vegetable, this is the one I’d recommend!  You won’t find the seed in many shops, but it’s easily available by mail order, e.g. from the excellent Tamar Organics.

Red Russian Kale - by far the best of the brassicas?
Red Russian Kale – by far the best of the brassicas?

If you’re going to grow onions from onion sets, this is also the time of year to be planting them.  Onion sets are so simple to plant, but I disagree with the traditional advice which is to leave the tip of the little onion poking out just above the soil surface.  If you do this, curious birds come along and pull them out, and you either have to keep putting them back into their holes, or cover the whole lot with netting.   Here’s a really simple solution: plant them deep enough so that the tips are just buried.   “But won’t that be bad for them?” you ask.  They really don’t mind.  I learned this from a commercial veg grower, who plants onion sets using a machine which not only puts them under the soil, but doesn’t even bother to get them all the right way up… and they grow just fine!

There's no need to follow the traditional advice to plant onion sets with their tips showing. Cover them right up - unless you want to provide entertainment for the birds who will enjoy pulling them up!
There’s no need to follow the traditional advice to plant onion sets with their tips showing. Cover them right up – unless you want to provide entertainment for the birds who will enjoy pulling them up!

Finally, as I start the spring sowing of seeds, I find that I have dozens (probably hundreds) of previously-used plant labels.  I wouldn’t dream of throwing away plastic plant labels just because they have been used once or twice – and here’s the best way I’ve found of quickly cleaning them up to use again:  give them a rub (about 5 seconds) with good old-fashioned wire wool.   Much more effective than washing them or using a pencil eraser, and it leaves the plastic nice and clean with a slightly matt surface which is ideal for writing on with a pencil.

Clean up old plastic plant labels quickly by giving them a rub with wire wool.
Clean up old plastic plant labels quickly by giving them a rub with wire wool.

 

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