Baby arugula adds a nutty flavor to salads. More mature arugula has a peppery taste.
It’s time to plant your autumn garden with cool-season veggies and greens. I’ve been busy lately with some other projects that delayed my getting started (you’ll hear about them soon enough) so I still have to finish my fall planting. The first thing I did was to add two bags of cow manure to my very small garden plot, and stir it into the existing soil.
Some of my favorite greens to plant in the fall are lettuces such as Romaine, Butter Crunch, and Red Sails, and other salad greens like arugula and mesclun mix, as well as collards.
Some of my favorite veggies to plant in the fall are cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and collards. My dad always sowed his flower beds with the seed of turnip greens. Those tender young greens made a beautiful sweep of green color in front of his azaleas, and provided food for several winter months.
I would love to tuck a lettuce plant or a pretty cauliflower here and there among my flowers, but cannot because our community has gray (reclaimed) water in our sprinkler system. I’ll write more about gray water in an upcoming post, but suffice it to say, you do not want to use it on fruits and veggies that will be eaten raw.
Collards for New Year’s Day
These are some of my collard seedlings, still in the cell packs. I like to start veggies from seed, but as mentioned above, I am a bit late this year. So, I made a trip to the garden center, and bought some already started. We have to have collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, and these collards should be ready just in time. Collards, like turnip greens, always taste better after they have experienced a light frost. Even though I hate cold weather, I’m hoping for a very light frost, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Here’s one of my Brussels sprouts plants. Those outer leaves are not so pretty, but I’m not concerned with them. They will soon drop off.
Below is a closer look at the center of this plant.
This is a closer view of the center of a Brussels sprouts plant. I can’t wait for the stalk with the “tiny cabbages” to burst upward.
We love to eat raw cauliflower dipped in light ranch dressing. It is also delicious steamed or microwaved with just a bit of butter, salt, & pepper. If you mash it, it’s a lot like mashed potatoes, but much healthier. Some folks call it South Beach potatoes.
The earliest, outermost leaves of cauliflower are not so pretty, either, especially the one at the top of this photo. They, too, will soon drop off.
These two leaves that appear cupped toward each other are the beginnings of the cauliflower head that will soon form. They, and a few more new leaves, will be cupped around the tender, creamy white head, which is the edible flower of this plant.
Think you have no space for a small garden? If you’re stuck with a small yard, as I am, but you would like to grow a few veggies, or maybe just have a salad garden, there is hope. You can grow veggies and leafy lettuce in pots, or you can tuck a few plants in among your flowers — that is, if you have potable (drinking quality) water in your sprinkler system.
Your Gardening Zone is Important to What Can Be Grown in Your Area
Depending on where you live, it may be past time to start fall veggies. Here in central Florida, they could have been started from seed as early as a month ago, but much earlier would have been pushing it a bit. After all, our daytime highs are still in the mid-to-high 80s, but that’s about to change. Nighttime temps are already in the 60s, and very soon, we will have daytime temps in the 70s and low 80s, followed by days in the 60s.
Even gardeners in Zone 7 (Birmingham, AL, Charlotte, NC, and points in between) can begin in August. Not here. I had lettuce, bell peppers, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts in the ground in late September, and will have mesclun mix, onions, collards — and my “winter” tomatoes in the ground by mid-October. Opps! That’s now. Okay. They’ll be in the ground within the week. Now I have to get busy planting. See you in the garden!