What’s (Still!) Fresh in the Garden?

This morning I took  a stroll through the gardens to see what’s still growing.  Quite a bit, it turns out!

Alas, here on November 1st, the tomatoes are gone.  Finally succumbed to the chill of Halloween and the previous nights, they are the tell-tale brown, drooping mess, hunched over like swamp monsters, hanging from the ties holding them to their stakes and looking like swamp monsters hung for their crimes.  This is always sad, but necessary:  I mustn’t hold on to them, or any other vestiges of Summer any longer.  Autumn is here, and soon Winter behind it, and I must move on.

Thanksgiving will be here, next Christmas, and thus begins a frenzy of cooking and celebration. Not only celebrating the changing seasons, the Holy Time to come, and giving thanks for the bountiful harvest, but also celebrating the food itself:  For there is lots of it, and it is not humanly possible  to put up every bit.  So it s eaten.  In excess.  With gusto.  Fancied up with candy treatments and liquors. Rolled in sugar, honey and maple syrup until it shines.  It is roasted, braised, stuffed, flambed, butterflied and spatch-cocked into works of Art.   Out come the family and cultral traditions, the finery and the special things reserved only for these days.

In this natural rhythm are sill plenty of fresh delights from the garden for this season;  fruits that sleep deep into the Winter, veggies that stand proud, tall and green with snow around their hips, and herbs that continue to provide freshness and pizzaz far past the golden days of Summer.

Late Cabbage

Thus, on my stroll through the gardens, I found many choices to add to my dinner this evening.   Brassica, or “cole crops”, do remarkable well in cooler temperatures, even taking on a new sweetness of flavor after the frosts have shut everything else down.

Collard greens florish in the chill of Autumn

  Collards, cabbages, and broccoli are all still beautiful and green, healthy and ready to eat.
    There is Swiss chard and mustard greens.  These are delicious lightly cooked down with a little water or broth, some salt and pepper, perhaps some garlic and/or butter.

Bright Lights Swiss

Beets

 Beets  are still quite lush and beautiful shades of green and red.  They stand right out now that the weeds have died back.

Carrots popping through the spent weeds. The roots can be pickled or eaten. The greens are excellent cooked, raw, or made into kimchi. Fall carrots are a sweet treat. These are storage carrots, meant to take longer to grow and easy to keep over the winter. Some gardeners even mulch them and keep them in the field over the winter, digging as needed. One will be in competition with mice if keeping the carrots this way. There is broccoli and Chinese cabbage. When growing broccoli, always leave the main stem behind after cutting off the main head; numerous little side shoots will emerge, often resulting in more weight than the original crown! Same with the cabbages, leave the plant in the ground and they willl make more heads, too!Late Broccoli

The Chinese cabbage will make terrific kimchi!  I can’t wait!  Or whole family enjoys it on all kinds of dishes.

This Chinese cabbages have already been cut once. They are gorgeous.

These veggies that keep producing into the colder months are often higher in starches and sugars, and these are nutrients that your body may naturally begin to store up to sustain you through the Winter months.  Another example of seasonal eating being a great choice for health.

Due to these miraculous qualities, you, too, can still find a great selection at your local farmers market.  And definitely poke around your own garden!  Even if it seems at first glance that the harvest is over, you just may discover some hidden delighs!  

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