Edible Gardening

Tips for Growing Fall Cool-Season Edibles

By Nina Koziol

Extend the Season by Protecting Against Frost

Keep an eye on the weather especially with regard to the predicted evening low temperatures in your area.  When night time temperatures are predicted to fall into the 30’s, I make sure the plants are covered by dusk. When frost threatens, I cover edibles growing in the ground with a lightweight frost cloth. Frost cloth is made of spun polyester and keeps the air around plants about 3 to 5 degrees warmer than the surrounding air. That can keep lettuce and other tender leafy greens from freezing.

I’ve covered Swiss chard with frost cloth when the night time temperatures dipped into the upper 20’s. The next morning, I removed the cloth and the leaves perked right up in the sunshine. Edibles that are grown in pots I cover with an inverted plastic pot or I will slip a garbage bag over the entire pot. Cardboard boxes, or an old sheet, will provide similar protection. Remove the covers the next day when the sun is out, or the temperatures rises.


Ideas About What to Do with Your Cool-Season Edibles Harvest

Thanks to Renée Shepherd (reneesgarden.com) for sharing her bok choy and Swiss chard recipes from her cookbooks, ‘Recipes From a Kitchen Garden,’ and ‘More Recipes from a Kitchen Garden.’

Milanese-Style Chard

1 bunch (1 pound) Swiss chard

2 T olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

6 scallions, thinly sliced

2 T chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Pinch of nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped prosciutto or ham

2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish:  2 T toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts

Trim the chard, discard tough stems and coarsely chop. In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil, add garlic and scallions and sauté until softened and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add chard, parsley, basil, nutmeg, prosciutto or ham, and mix well together. Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat until tender and wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with nuts. Serves 4 to 6.


Orzo, Chard and Squash Casserole

1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

1 T butter

1/4 cup chopped fresh green basil

1/2 cup grated Muenster cheese

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 T olive oil

2 medium zucchinis, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

10 large leaves of steamed chard, coarsely chopped and drained

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T drained capers

Salt to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and reduce heat, cooking until orzo is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, add butter, basil, Muenster cheese and freshly ground pepper. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat oil, add zucchini and mushrooms and sauté until almost tender, stirring frequently for 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped chard and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until zucchini is soft.  Stir in capers. Toss vegetables with orzo and add salt to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Fall Cool-Season Edibles – A Few Final Words

Take advantage of these cooler autumn days by growing more edibles. You’ll discover that it’s super easy and kind to your food budget. Besides, there’s nothing fresher than a salad made from greens you grew and harvested yourself. Bon Appétit!

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