It is almost the middle of November and some people in these parts are still harvesting tomatoes. Not me. We had a pretty good freeze about a month ago — but even a friend 3 miles away still has flowers blooming on her steps. Cwazy. But even for me, the garden in November lingers on.
Anything you get at this point is just pure bonus prize. Weeds in the path are arugula and cilantro plants. A rogue mustard plant found near the compost pile became an amazing stir-fry. I don’t know if it is because I know it could all be gone tomorrow, but everything tastes better this time of year and brings more delight than even the first spring harvest. Case-in-point: Three months ago I would have yanked it out and tossed it on the compost pile without a second thought. “Dam weed…”
With the lingering gorgeous weather, garden clean-up gets put off a little longer. The Halloween Storm of 1991 just doesn’t have the same teeth in my psyche as it used to, so I’m not all freaking out about having everything “put to bed” yet. Plus, there is something about cutting things off that are still alive. Sort of. Sort of alive. You know? I mean, Dave wants to cut everything back — even the show-stopping feather grass. What kind of sadist does that?
He would tell you, “the kind of sadist who doesn’t want to do it in the spring.” Meh. It’s the small things in life. And when I’m sitting on the pot in the bathroom, I want to gaze to my left out the window and see that beautiful majesty rippling in the breeze. Cut ’em off an die.
For the record, I do allow him to cut the: black eye susans, hostas, wild sage, karl foerster grass and EVEN THE HYDRANGEAS, so don’t get all high and mighty with me. I want the FEATHER GRASS LEFT UP. Period.
So anyway, I was finally out in the garden yesterday, cleaning stuff up, planting the garlic and shallots for next year… and it was kinda fun. Lots of little delightful surprises. Like finding carrots that Lola somehow missed. For you newbs, Lola is the vegetable-eating dog & annihilator-of-the-garden.
She can find carrots underground. Honest to God, I think she could be trained to find truffles. But SOMEhow she missed my last planting of carrots.
Maybe it was the monster beets that they were growing next to that threw her off the trail. It’s possible. These beets are formidable. Anyone want some beets? I hate beets.
Here’s another surprise delivered by the carrots: they actually taste good.
These are the very same seeds I planted in early May for summer harvest. The very same that grew great healthy tops and tasted like crap. Awful. Woody. Gorgeous, terrible carrots. I left them in the ground and let Lola have-at them. I didn’t even care that she dug up and ate every one.
I re-planted the same seeds with no expectations in late July next to a new planting of beets. I kind of forgot about them and dug them up yesterday. They taste amazing. Like candy. I am never — not ever — planting carrots in the spring again.
hahaha. Like I’ll ever remember that…
Other surprises: this crazy green cauliflower. Same story as the carrots. I started some early from seed — my flagships — and they were awful. They barely made a head and shot straight to seed. Meanwhile, I direct-seeded 4 plants when I did my late planting of kale. I never expected them to do anything. After the first frost there was a teeny, tiny floret on the largest plant. Apparently, they continued to grow for the past couple months. And now they are spectacular.
Bonus: they TASTE GOOD! I know that sounds weird, but the earlier plantings were awful, just like the carrots.
I like to roast cauliflower. I toss it with a little olive oil and lots of salt and pepper and cook it at 425 for about 30 minutes, turning them once. It is AMAZING how much they shrink. (I swear to goodness I did not eat any before I took the last picture. Go ahead, count them:
Let’s see, what else…
Oh yea, I planted the garlic and shallots.
I struggle with shallots because I just don’t see that they taste that different, but pound for pound it’s like you are growing gold, based on what they charge in the store, so I continue to grow a crop. Garlic is a no brainer. Fresh garden garlic is awesome to cook with. I planted a whole bed with just garlic this year since I wish I had a little more to share with, oh you know, the UPS man.
You separate the cloves, then plant them about an inch below the surface, pointy side up. I’ll add a layer of hay once the ground is mostly frozen since I have lost crops in the coldest winters.
Finally, the best for last: my BRUSSELS SPROUTS! They are epic.
Tall, healthy and they actually have real-live sprouts on the stalk, unlike last year’s that were tall, stately, healthy and naked. No sprouts at all. No idea why. But that’s all in the past. I have 5 stalks of these babies. Sorry UPS man, these are all for me.
I admit these are pretty crappy pictures. But they will have to suffice. Enjoy what’s rest of your fall!