Early winter veg

Well, it is definitely winter time around here. Dropped down to 33 degrees last night. And while all the tomatoes, squash, eggplant and cucumbers are gone, the garden now has some lovely, vibrant cold-tolerant veggies growing up just fine. Who says you can’t grow food year-round? Here are some of the things growing.

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I planted small seedlings at the beginning of September, and the broccoli looks ready to eat. It always amazes me how these plants manage to grow so well in the cooler weather and with less sunlight.  The cauliflower plants are doing great. They are just starting to curl up in the center to form heads. Stay tuned, I will post photos once I have an impressive specimen.

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The leeks don’t look like much now, but like the garlic, they continue to grow. In a few months we can start to harvest some, and in four months, they will be ready for soup. (Potato and leek soup is so good.) They will do great just waiting in the ground, until we decide to eat them.

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My favorite new vegetable is the Savoy cabbage. I adore this variety. It has the best taste and beautiful ruffly leaves. It is great as a side or in soup, or stuffed with ground meat and rice. They have just started to curl up in the middle, so it might be a while yet for a head of cabbage. That’s ok, I am patient in the winter.

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Our artichokes died back over the hot months of summer, only to emerge again as the weather cooled down. We planted Green Globe and Italian Violetta more that 7 years ago. These plants are amazing. By spring, each plant will be covered with little flower buds that we will gratefully cut off and boil. I truly love artichokes, one of my favorites. Stay tuned, more photos in the spring.

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Another new addition to our winter garden is this Tuscan Nero kale.  Now, I love chard and spinach, but kale, not so much. Not a big fan. However, it is a super food, full of all kinds of good-for-you stuff, like vitamin A, B6, C, and K. It is also a good source of minerals like iron, potassium, and manganese. I have decided to give it a try. And you know what? It tastes great in soup. I can’t wait to try more recipes. I love the dark blue-green color of the leaves.

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I made a Portuguese potato and kale soup, called Caldo Verde. Super easy, super yummy. Here are the ingredients.

4 cups chopped kale

4 small to medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 can Northern white beans

2 spicy sausage, fully cooked

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Get a big Dutch oven on the stove, over medium heat. Cut up sausages and brown. Set aside. Add some olive oil to pot, and cook onions and garlic until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add 6 cups of water or chicken stock to the pot. Add potatoes. Turn up to high, simmer, then cover and lower heat. Let simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

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Add can of rinsed Northern white beans, kale, and sausages. Cook together another 15 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls, and serve with crusty french bread. My favorite bakery in Sonoma county is Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg.

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So the moral of the story in gardening is: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some things will surprise you.
Some things are easier to grow than you think. And easy to prepare into a wonderful meal.

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