I'm talking about my veggie beds, where I always let crops linger too long. I really should remove things as soon as I'm finished harvesting, but I let them stay, hoping for extended production. In this specific case I'm talking about my kale, which I planted last autumn, overwintered, and was rewarded with a springtime bounty.
Kale is fantastic in the spring, and overwintered plants get huge so fast. With no pests around (other than possibly some aphids) you get loads of pristine leaves too! But eventually the time comes when the plants start to fizzle and must be removed.
I need this growing space for the summer food producers like tomatoes, so I can't let these plants go to seed...
...well, completely to seed -- you can see that they're well on their way to giving me a lifetime supply of future kale plants!
The Gai Lan (Chinese kale) were a big success this year too -- I wonder if they'll do well in the heat of summer? I may plant a few more as a test. These plants are past their prime and need to come out too though:
The beets will stay...
...as they're still producing wonderful, delicious greens. I don't mind letting the roots get bigger either.
For the kale and Gai Lan, I know from past experience that if I take too close a look I'll decide that I can still get useful food from them, and will postpone their removal for another week or two or more. The best thing to do is jump in there and quickly start pulling out plants. Do it quickly so the sting isn't so painful.
Once they're gone, the new plants have taken up residence, and their remnants have been covered over in the compost pile, they're just a happy memory and are no longer missed.
I'll be repeating this again in August when it's time to get the fall plants in. I have to remember how good it feels to have the tired plants gone, even if they're still slowly producing. Maybe I won't wait as long next time...
(I did this a month earlier last year, but I think I'm still in good shape.)