How to Eat Fresh Food From Your Garden Year Round
Not much gardening is going on right now. Which is one of the reasons I love gardening so much. If I had to pull weeds and deal with bugs year round I would probably need therapy.
I love growing food. I love the process. I love my garden. But I am happy in winter when I don’t think about it…. much.
There are several ways to eat from a garden year round. The first is of course, canning. The second is freezing and drying (or dehydrating).
But, believe it or not, here in Kentucky I harvest several crops straight from the garden almost year round. The key is knowing your climate and planting hearty crops that can stand the cold.
Here’s what’s growing in my garden right now
Herbs are a must-have-growing as far as I’m concerned. There are so many vegetables and plants that can be a struggle to grow. Thankfully, there are crops that are simple and easy to grow like herbs. Herbs grow easily. Many of them are perennials (which means they come back year after year). They don’t typically have pests or diseases that bug them. And there are several that continue to grow and add flavor to your table in all seasons.
An herb garden can be an amazing addition to your homestead and your cooking. Right now I have thyme, chives, rosemary, cilantro, lemon thyme and oregano going strong in my herb garden. More on growing herbs here.
I’m not sure if I’m happy or miserable about all the root crops in my garden at this moment. It’s great because they are so incredibly healthy for me to eat and it is difficult to get farm-to-table crops this time of year.
The turnips on the other hand are a thorn in my flesh. They are providing me with lovely greens to marinade in bacon grease. How to grow turnips here. Southern turnip green recipe here (It’s part of the Members Section – to learn more go here).
Mmmm. Turnip greens.
The actual turnips ruin my day. I hate them, but end up eating them because I grew them and don’t like to waste home grown goods. I’m leaving the beets and turnips in the garden for the winter. They provide a perfect cover crop (they hold the soil in place, prevent weeds from growing and aerate the soil). Before it gets super frosty (January), I’m going to cover them with a foot of straw to preserve them. These root crops can be stored right in the garden where they grew- cool eh?
Speaking of roots: We dug up all the potatoes last week. Digging up potatoes is always entertaining. You never know what you are going to find.
Another cover crop I am using this winter is kale.
I sprinkled some kale seeds all over this bed in September. You can see the tiny kale plants springing from the soil. These guys will provide a cover crop over winter and give me some fresh kale to eat in spring. The kale will survive as long as our temperatures don’t get close to zero. Kale is amazing. To learn more about growing kale go here.
I do have a nice amount of mature kale as well:
I am harvesting this and using it in all sorts of surprising ways.
- I took a spinach dip to a football party last weekend that was made with kale instead of spinach.
- I toss it with my favorite dressing (Premium Recipe – learn more here) instead of lettuce.
- I make crazy healthy kale-green-juice with my juicer.
The kale will not go to waste. It must be eaten.
#4: Other Fresh Foods
My Swiss chard is the size of a 4-wheeler and I am feeding it to unwilling children in weird ways.
I made creamed spinach last week with Swiss chard instead of spinach. I made a creamy Parmesan salad with Swiss chard instead of lettuce. I think it tastes like lettuce, but it packs more nutrition than most lettuce greens.
Speaking of greens, the collard greens are also happy it’s cold outside. Collard greens and Kale are the 2 best foods for preventing glaucoma. They both promote eye health and can live through some really cold temperatures. Perfect collard green recipe here (Premium Post- become a member here).
Last is the lettuce. I only have a few heads left of butter-crunch. There are some freezing temperatures heading this way so I’ll be eating up the lettuce in the next few days. How to grow lettuce here.
In other garden-y news, I finally ripped out all the dead tomato, pepper and eggplant plants last week.
Here’s the before and after:
The sun was going down when I took the second picture. All the tomato cages and stakes have been removed from the garden and stored until next summer. We removed all the plants, stems and debris. Getting all the remnants from old plants out of the garden will help the soil stay healthy. This will encourage healthy tomato plants next year.
I’m hoping for a good hard winter and some snow. Why snow is good for your garden here.
There is not much growing, but I am thankful for what I have right now. I know that even though the selection is limited, anything I can harvest and eat from my garden is packed with nutrition and so much healthier than anything I can buy at a store.