Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 08/19 at 01:40 PM
Please welcome Jamie Oberdick to the Local Food Journey! Jamie is an enthusiastic home gardener who grows a variety of plants from around the world in his Centre County backyard. Take it away, Jamie!
A lot of people think of vegetable gardening as a spring/summer thing, and you shut it down in the fall with the exception of the last pumpkins. Actually, there are plenty of different vegetables that thrive in the cooler conditions we have in fall in central Pennsylvania.
As a general rule, many of the same vegetable plants that work in spring also do well in the fall. The time is now to plant the seeds, although for a few of them like broccoli, rutabaga, and carrots, it might be too late to plant.
As for the rest, here are some examples of vegetables that you can plant now and get a harvest before the growing season is over: radishes, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, spinach, kohlrabi, swiss chard, turnips, Asian cabbage, and kale. In fact, cool fall weather make some veggies taste better, like chard, kale, and turnips.
If you can’t find seeds at any store, you can plant leftover seeds you have from spring. If you did what I did—let some spring plants go to seed and saved them—you can just plant those.
Some varieties can even survive a frost, especially if you cover them with a mulch (this is especially true of root vegetables). Here are some examples:
Tatsoi: Also known as spoon mustard, this Asian mustard plant boasts a delicious mild flavor and is great in salads, stir fries, and autumn soups. Can survive temperatures down to 20 degrees. Rosettes of deep green, spoon-shaped leaves makes this a rather pretty plant.
Mizuna: Another attractive looking mustard from Japan, mizuna is reminiscent of arugula, but not as intense. Pointed leaves come in red and green varieties. In Japan it is used in soups, but it also makes an excellent salad green. Try serving fish or meat like steak or tuna on a bed of mizuna. It’s outstanding!
Kohlrabi: You have probably seen these trimmed bulbs in stores, but the kohlrabi plant looks like something from an alien planet or Dr. Seuss tale. The bulb grows above ground with long-stemmed leaves growing out of it. The leaves are edible as a cooked green, and the bulb itself tastes something like a cross between cabbage and an apple. You can make great cole slaw out of it, and also can cook it in soups. Very cold hardy, you can harvest it even after the first snow has fallen!
Radicchio di Treviso: This unusual radicchio looks like a red Belguim endive. Much like endive, you can cut in half and grill it or roast it. I like it roasted with a bit of salt and olive oil—so good with roast chicken on a cold fall day.
There’s no reason to shut down your garden when the kids go back to school and the days get shorter and colder—you can extend great fresh garden flavors well into football season!
Author: Jamie Oberdick
Bio: Editor, Local Food Journey | Passionate about supporting local food in Central PA
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