Winter Gardening! Say What?

Winter has finally arrived here in Kentucky.

I love the slow, relaxed version of life that winter brings with it.  Soups, fires, books and games.  That’s what winter is made of.

Since it’s been reasonably mild and lovely this fall, my garden has continued to bring me food.  Which is good and bad.

Why Gardening in December is Good:

Because it is so good to be eating fresh food that I raised.  Even when I buy food from whole-food stores, farmers markets and fresh places I often wonder how long they’ve really had that food on the premises… or how far the food travelled to get there… or what “organic” growing methods were used.  Maybe I’m a hardened skeptic, but I just question everything.  Growing food is hard.  Finding freshly harvested, organically grown foods is hard.  When the food comes from my yard there is no question.

I know how it was grown.  I know what’s in the soil.  I know when it was picked.  I know how long it’s been in storage.  I know how far it travelled.  I know.

Kale continues to grow and produce here until January (or whenever the temps get below 10 degrees).  So, thanks to kale (and other disgusting, cold-loving, side dishes) I have bushels of food coming out of my garden.  Literally.

Why Gardening in December is Bad:

Because I just don’t really want to be gardening/harvesting/processing food in December.  Ugh.  Enough already.  I’m picking, washing, de-stemming, chopping, refrigerating and cooking fresh foods when I should be eating canned goods from this summer.

I’ve been eying my turnip patch for the last few weeks.

I didn’t rip them out when I was doing all my other wintery garden chores because I didn’t feel like it.  I hate turnips and just haven’t had the energy to deal with the mound of greens that is taking over.

This week I decided to investigate further.

This is what I found underneath all those luscious greens…. giant turnips.  Turnips are terrible when they are young, tender and small.  When they get this big, they have no hope of ever resembling decent food.

Here’s my dilemma:  I grew them.  They are good for me.  They are live foods that I harvested… days ago.  This is what disease-fighting, antioxidants are made of.  I just can’t bring myself to throw these purple footballs to the chickens (not that they would want to eat them anyway).  I must get them into our bodies.

So, I spent a lovely Wednesday afternoon dealing with massive amounts of turnips.

I do adore turnip greens – so they were all harvested, washed and prepped to become my favorite side dish.  I refuse to waste home grown, fresh, healthy food, so the turnips were also washed, bagged and stored.  It is my personal vendetta and destiny to find a ‘not horrible’ way to consume turnips.

In addition to the turnip patch, I also have plenty of kale.

Kale is just a hair better tasting than turnips as far as I’m concerned.

The great thing about kale is that when I cram it through my juicer with other, sweeter fruits & veggies I can’t even taste it.  The juice may smell and look green & horrible but the flavor is remarkable.  Kale turns fresh juice into a powerhouse without making you gag.

Turnips are another story.  Turnip juice is a bad idea.  I can taste the terribleness of a turnip a mile away.

Don’t worry.  I’m gonna consume these veggies one way or another.  I don’t usually waste hard-earned veggies.  Especially ones that I picked in December.  These are a treasure doomed to be eaten, even if they taste like ear wax.

My herb garden is rockin’ this fall.  Rosemary, two varieties of thyme, oregano, chives and good golly almighty – the cilantro is booming.  It’s really funny because when I try to grow cilantro, I can’t.  Cilantro hates heat.  When it’s summer and the tomatoes are dripping from the vines and I would give anything for some fresh cilantro, it’s all dead.

As soon as the days get short and cool, cilantro comes to life.

Really.

I didn’t even plant any this fall.

It volunteered from all corners of the garden and is growing in droves.  It’s in the peas.  It’s in the herb garden.  It’s in the walking paths.  It’s in the asparagus patch.  It’s everywhere and it’s thriving.

If any of you know how to preserve this wonderful fresh treasure so I can eat it all winter – please let me know.  I’m considering replanting it into a giant pot & growing it as a centerpiece on my kitchen table.  I love cilantro.

I am grateful.  I am thankful to have the fresh goods to put into my (and my family’s) bodies.  It is life and health giving.

I heard that we are supposed to dip into the teens and single digits in the next few days here.  I suppose what’s left of the fall garden will be wiped out any minute.  I think I’ll have a party and welcome the destruction and snow.  The garden has lasted exceptionally longer than usual this year & I’m ready for a nice loooooooong break.

Stay warm everyone!

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XO,

Candi

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