Cool veg

In the last post I mentioned that Gail and I just picked more vegetables for the East Bay Food Pantry. It’s no accident that we still have veg to pick. Back in the middle of September we took a little gamble and seeded down a big quilt of lettuce, rows of super-sweet and tiny early Napoli carrots, spinach, and Scarlet Queen Red Stems salad turnips (meant to be eaten raw!) It was late to be seeding but we also put row covers over the lettuce and spinach just in case, and the gamble (more of time than money since seeds are cheap) paid off big time. Given that the weather has been so mild with no real killing frost yet, we wouldn’t have even needed the row covers – uncovered lettuce in the raised beds is fine. When we cleaned out the vegetable garden in October we also left other tough-as-nails cool crops standing, like kale and Swiss chard. What’s truly surprising to me is how surprised the folks were to receive more fresh veg now, this close to winter. Granted, this is the first time we’ve made an effort to grow vegetables past summer but is it truly unusual to take advantage of fall?

I’m no vegetable gardener but that might have to change. Spending that hour or two harvesting at the end of November was like a little revelation. This is doable. And especially this time of year, when fresh veg tastes like a luxury (if you could see the crowds of people at Bristol’s new winter farmer’s market grinning over the gorgeous clubs of Brussels’s sprouts, bales of lettuce, carrots and enormous sweet potatoes you’d think none of us had ever had eaten well past August) a little extra effort at the end of summer – even if it’s a gamble – seems more than worthwhile.

This harvest has inspired Gail and me to make a resolution (a little early for New Year’s but what the hey) to get back out in the vegetable bed in March to at least seed down peas and greens in the raised beds under row covers. And who knows, maybe next year we’ll shoot for a four season vegetable garden à la Elliot Coleman.

Are you still eating from your garden?