- Published on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 01:00
- Written by Sally Perham Chaves and Eron Sandler
Photo By: Courtesy of Collective Roots
It’s the beginning of autumn, the sun arcs closer to the horizon and the nights come upon us quickly. It’s the time of year when our friends tell us their gardens are finished for the year. We’re always surprised to find that most native Californians fail to realize that winter vegetable gardens can be the most productive of the year. We are lucky to live in this part of the Bay Area, where the growing season never has to end.
As each plant variety stops producing, we recompost and turn the soil in that section of the garden, and then reseed or plant vegetables for the upcoming season. We also try to include edible flowers between the vegetables not only for beauty, but as protection from pests. The garden changes its looks from month to month but is usually lush and inviting.
What are we planting right now in the Collective Roots gardens? Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, radishes, carrots, spring onions, leeks, artichokes and peas.
There are even some edible flowers that can be planted now between the vegetables or at the ends of garden rows. Pansies, borage, society garlic and calendula all provide fall and winter color and can add color and flavor to salads and benefit pollinators. These plants should go in the ground now while the soil is still warm so that they can become established before the cold weather sets in. You will be amazed at the bounty you may produce throughout the winter and spring.
Here at the Collective Roots’ Garden at the East Palo Alto Charter School, students are planting nine kinds of carrots – Atomic Red, Lunar White, Solar Yellow, Scarlet Nantes, Round Romeo and Little Finger, to name a few.
Students use the garden to learn about science concepts such as decomposition as well as anatomy and human health. They turn the compost and apply it to their garden beds, then harvest and prepare vegetables as they discuss how the nutrients impact our bodies.
A popular recipe this time of year is Cool Carrot Coleslaw, ideal as a hearty side dish or piled atop quinoa for a main course. There are many nutrients to talk about – vitamin A and beta-carotene in carrots, vitamin C and fiber in cabbage and protein in soy.
As we plant new cabbage and carrots for our fall and winter garden, students get to see and eat the now-mature carrots and cabbage they planted in the spring. Munching on the tasty, tangy slaw makes it easier to imagine those tiny seeds and seedlings growing into big vegetables.
Los Altos resident Sally Perham Chavez is a board member and Eron Sandler is director of programs at Collective Roots, a nonprofit, educational group focused on growing and preparing food from the garden. For more information, visit www.collectiveroots.org.
Cool Carrot Coleslaw
• 4 ounces firm tofu
• 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 medium onion
• 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2-3 medium carrots
• 1/2 medium head of cabbage
• 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
• 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
Finely mince onion and marinate in small bowl with vinegar and salt.
Grate carrots and add to large bowl.
Chop cabbage into fine ribbons and add to bowl.
Cut tofu into small cubes. Add tofu, tamari or soy sauce and olive oil to bowl.
Chop dill and add to bowl.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish.