Gardening · Growing Vegetables · Medicinal plants

Experiment in Neglect – Which Plants Can Thrive on Neglect – Part 3.

As I have promised, I continue writing about plants which did very well in our garden this Summer during my long 7 weeks absence  To read part 1 and part 2 of this article, please follow the links. They will be also added below this article. Today I would like to tell you about two edible plants which did very well during the time of the experiment of neglecting my garden.


One of them was kale. The variety I was growing this year was most likely called Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero).  I have purchased it as a a rather small plant (set of four) in my favorite plant nursery Vandermeer in late Spring and the tag on the seedlings was just “kale”.

Kale - Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero) variety.
Kale – Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero) variety.

When I was leaving for my trip in the middle of July it was a medium size plant not looking too impressive and the leaves were lighter green and have not developed the well pronounced texture yet, so visible in the mature plant above. Before I left one kale was destroyed by some animal, probably a squirrel, and it was just cut off from the root. So only 3 kale plants were remaining. All of them were growing in a bit shady spot on the left of our garden, close to the fence, when they received about 5-6 hours of sunshine in the afternoon (assuming there was any since this year during the Summer there ware almost no sunny days, just lots of rain).

Our Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero) in the middle of July, 2017 when still pretty small and not looking as a mature plant.
Our Lacinato Kale (Dinosaur Kale, Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero) in the middle of July, 2017 when still pretty small and quite different looking from a mature plant.

It was a great and present surprise to see our kale grow to so huge and beautiful plants. They were about 2-2.5 feet and looking very healthy and quite decorative, as you can see in the picture on the top of this article. The leaves were very long and slender, dark green with a lot of texture. The only problem I have noticed they had was that some lower leaves had holes in them, probably eaten away by slags and snails we had so many this year, because of extremely wet weather this Spring and Summer.

I like this variety more than the curly kale I was growing in the previous year since it is easier to clean and spiders and other insects are less likely to hide inside the folds of the leaves (unlike with the curly kale with make a great hiding spot for spiders etc.).  It is also easier to prepare a dish with it since in has only the main big central stalk and the side veins are pretty small.

My husband was not really eating our kale while I was away, so all three of them were growing intact for a couple of months. Once I was back, I have mostly used kale leaves in salads, but they could be also added to soups, sautéd in a skillet, added to omelets and frittatas etc. If prepared in the right way, kale is very tasty and nutritious plant and is is particularly rich in vitamin K. Because of that, it is considered as one of the top superfoods.

Here are some good and easy to make kale recipes I was able to find on the Internet: Basic Skillet Kale and  Kale and Rosted Red Pepper Frittata .


Our raspberry in the beginning of September 2017. This year fruits are maturing pretty late since we had very wet and summer and there was almost no sunshine.
Our raspberry in the beginning of September 2017. This year fruits are maturing pretty late since we had very wet Summer and there was almost no sunshine.

Another plant which did very well during my absence was our raspberry. This variety’s name is Killarney Raspberry and it has originated in Manitoba, Canada. It is a perennial shrub and very winter hardy. This variety is also described as very disease resistant and so far it is true, regarding raspberry growing in our garden. Our raspberry grows very fast and can grow to a plant about 1,5 m (about 5 feet), or higher in a single season. If you would straighten its branches some of ours raspberry’s canes this year were more than 2 m long – 6 -7 feet, but I didn’t cut them last year.

In a previous year I was cutting the fruit-bearing branches to the ground at the end of the growing season, but last year I have decided to experiment and left them uncut. I read there are two main raspberry varieties and some you should cut to the ground since they bear fruits only once. I was not sure if the one we have is this kind or not so I have decided not to cut it so much. To our surprise, it had lots of fruit this year and on all branches. Only problem was that the bush has become quite large and a bit hard to manage since the canes were pretty soft and bending. We provided some support to hold them up.

This raspberry seems to be making fruits later in Summer and then during the Fall till a hard frost. If fact our raspberry this year still had many ripening fruits when they become suddenly hard frozen by the recent usually strong frost overnight November 9-10 . In the morning of November 10 it was -11 C in our region (the previous cold record for this time of the year was from 1939).  The frost has badly damaged our raspberry, so it stopped growing for this season.

Since the plant was so huge, I have decided to do another experiment and cut it back to about 1 foot. I read somewhere that it is a good idea to do that instead of cutting the canes to the ground. I think raspberry bears fruits on the new growth and in this way it will have fruits sooner than if cat to the ground and perhaps it will help to keep it more compact, manageable size. I already know it is not necessary to cut it to the ground from my previous year experiment, I have already mentioned.

Killarney Raspberry is making bright red, pretty sweet and tasty fruits and I guess they would be even sweeter if growing where they would receive more sun. Our plant grows on the left side of our garden when it only has pretty good light in the afternoon – mostly exposure from the west.  The fruits are said to be good for not only eating them fresh, but also for canning, freezing and making fruit pies. We just eat them fresh since even if our raspberry makes a lot of fruits, they are made gradually over a long period, so it is hard to collect enough for preserving them.

It is loved by bees (particularly by the bigger variety) and in the warmer part of the year, they are very busy humming around it collecting nectar and pollinating it. Thanks to them we are getting a lot of fruits. Some insects last and this year liked to nibble on some top leaves, but they  didn’t do much damage and the plant continued to grow well. Last year I have noticed they were a few Japanese beetles on the plant and I have just removed and killed them, even if they are so pretty (shiny metallic), so they wouldn’t continue eating our raspberry or other plants. This year I didn’t see any of them, but only yellowish light green beetles with black spots, which were here also last year. They are the main suspect in eating our raspberry’s leaves this year.

Most of the raspberry fruits are hiding under the leaves, and perhaps because of some little spines on the branches, birds and squirrels don’t seem to like to eat the fruit too much, except for some Robins, which occasionally manage to eat some of the fruits at the end of a couple of branches.

I recommend Killarney Raspberry to you, particularly if you live in a colder climate and like to have easy-going, winter-hardy perennial plant, which will grow well even when neglected and bears fruits over a very long period of time, even when it is already pretty cold.

Please Comment on this Blog.

Have you ever neglected your garden and what were the results?  Do you have any special things you take care of before leaving your garden for a while? Perhaps you have very clever watering system or just ask your neighbours to water your plants? Also do you like to experiment in your garden trying a variety of things. Please share your experience with us. Thank you.

Following and Sharing this Blog.

If you like this article, please share it with other people who might be inserted in reading it as well.  Thank you. I  encourage you to follow or subscribe to this blog to receive automatic updates, so you won’t miss future posts.  I look forward to your comments.

The Copyright.

All photographs and this article are copyrighted by me, Renata Ratajczyk unless otherwise mentioned. I you would like to use any of them in your publications or on your website, please contact me.

Weekly Challenge

This article is participating and shared in the weekly photo challenge: Experimental.

Other Articles You Might Also Like to Read.

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  5. Flowers and Shrubs Blooming in our Garden in June and July – Part 2.
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3 thoughts on “Experiment in Neglect – Which Plants Can Thrive on Neglect – Part 3.

    1. Yes, Kale and Raspberry are pretty easy-going plants. You might also like to check dahlias and Rose of Sharon I have written about in my previous article. Just remember to take dahlias from the ground before it freezes if you live in colder climate. The Rose of Sharon is even easier to take care of. Just plant it, make sure it will not dry out, give a little fertilizer from time to time and it should bloom for you if planted in the right spot. Once established it should grow well, assuming you have occasional rain.


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