Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall/Winter Gardening, Why stop when its frosts?

Why stop when it frosts?

Thanks to book loaned to me by a good friend almost 18 months ago I learned that the joy of gardening does not stop when it frosts.  In fact, one cool season vegetables are established and a typical NC winter sets in there are no bugs, very little maintenance, and plenty of tasty Italian mixed Greens, Beets Kale, Spinach, <green> Garlic, Carrots, and other root crops.  The book by Eliot Coleman is called Four Season Harvest.

One of the principles which I learned is that it is good to pay attention to what God is serving in each season.  Greens and root crops are rich in anti-oxidants and minerals which benefit people by bolstering our immune systems and speeding recovery from winter colds and flu.
Insalata Odorosa - We have already eaten a few bowls.
Swiss Chard and Beets got a slow start no thanks to September's heat.  Now that it is cooler and I added some fertilizer the plants are on the move and will keep growing as long as temperatures stay above 27 degrees.  Swiss Chard will go dormant below 27 and re-awaken in the spring.  Beets are great when cut into strips and sauteed in a cast iron skillet in butter/coconut oil mix.  Add a dash of sugar and cook until the edges are crispy!
Rainbow Swiss Chard and Detroit Red Beets
      Spinach and Buttercrunch Lettuce are also delicious and have a great tender taste once temperatures drop.  The Lettuce will need to be eaten before a hard frost.  Spinach keeps on coming all winter long....
Viroflay Spinach and Buttercrunch Lettuce
     Kale tastes best after a hard frost and will also thrive in cold.  Another friend introduced us to the idea of making Kale hips by lightly oiling the leaves and baking them at 350 on a cookie sheet.  If that does not work out then Kale still tastes good in salads or sauteed,
Dwarf Kale is behind the Insalata Odorosa
     The next 2 weeks is garlic planting time!  Plant 1 clove every 4" and fertilize with compost and a pinch of 0-45-0 super phosphate.  Garlic can be picked green during the entire winter.  The roots that survive (because you have not eaten them yet) through next june will reward you richly with unbelievable tasting mature garlic!

    Sad you missed out?  Plant your garlic now and get your lettuce, chard, spinach ...etc... planted around March 1 for the Spring cool season campaign.

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