Though I’m a child of the 60’s this is not a revolutionary counterculture kinda rap. No, I’m thinking about the changing of the seasons this morning – literally. It’s Officially Fall here. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp and cooler, and we’ve already had our first light frost (or two). The West Side Nut Club Fall Festival has come and gone. We went, and it rained. That’s the way it’s been this year. It has rained a lot. It was also a cooler than normal summer. That was good for the energy bill, but the combo was not so good for the tomato crop, which suffered with late ripening, split tomatoes and a rash of foliar diseases. When meeting other gardeners the obligatory greeting was: “how are your tomatoes doing?” Most times the answer was “not well at all.” I actually had SLUGS crawling up the vines to feast on the almost-ripe tomatoes. I commiserated with the folks who live in the Pacific NW and deal with those gardening conditions all the time.
But summer has passed. Tomatoes pretty much stopped ripening weeks ago. We picked green ones the other night and fried them. We don’t “do” fried much, so it was a nice treat. Wifey was surprised how much she likes them now, since she didn’t use to care much for them. I sliced them fairly thin, dredged them in cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper, and fried them in a little bit of olive oil. Yummy. Eat ’em while they’re hot!
Autumn surely brings a change in my diet and appetite. I crave soup and heartier fare. Our fall menu includes dishes using long-keepers like winter squash and sweet potatoes, plus cool weather crops like broccoli, cabbage, turnips and other greens. Greens – yes, the greens of autumn! Turnip greens, kale and collards. They are touted by nutritionists, health experts and our mothers when we were growing up. Eat your greens! What a great deal – they are good for you and easy to grow as well.
I can grow greens all winter in my small greenhouse. Right now I’ve got lettuce, pac choi and Yukina Savoy going. The Simpson Elite lettuce is almost ready for salads and wilting. We’ve already eaten some of the Yukina Savoy, which tastes like tatsoi but grows more upright like a pac choi. It’s great stir fried with some mushrooms and sliced garlic.
In a month or so I will plant more lettuce plus spinach and mache. These hearty greens will thrive in the protected environment of the greenhouse. I’ll also use my 4×4 cold frame to give me more room to extend the season. We dined on greens throughout last winter, and I’m looking forward to more of the same this year. Fear not. Let cold weather come, then we’ll have the Greening of Winter!