Edible Gardening

Yummy Winter Greens



It is my time to say goodbye to the Christmas cookies, get back on the treadmill and back to Jazzercise.  It is not as bad as it sounds really.  I enjoy grazing on all the green stuff from the garden!  I am also committed to staying strong so I can pursue my passion for as long as possible.  There is no denying that gardening takes a LOT of energy!

So I headed out to the garden this afternoon in pursuit of leafy greens. It is truly amazing what is still looking good after yesterday’s 10 degree low here in Summerfield, NC.  Check out the beautiful COLLARDS and KALE!   The Kale was actually planted from seed 16 months ago and is still growing very well today.  These organically grown greens are packed with more nutrition than almost any other vegetable! For those of you who find them prettier to look at than to eat, you might check these “not your mama’s” recipes below. (Also see the “Caldo Verde” soup recipe on last January’s blog post.)

Tuscan Kale

Also growing, but not yet ready for harvest are fall onions, garlic, and spinach.  The onions were planted in November from “sets” which look like miniature onions about ½ inch in diameter.  Planted in the fall, they have time to put down roots so the frost does not heave them out of the ground over winter. I will have onions to harvest earlier then if I had planted them in spring.  For me this is important because the onions need to be out of the ground by April 25th when I need their space for my summer vegetables.

The tops of the onions, garlic and spinach stay green through the winter, waiting for the warmer days of March to put out fast growth. Spinach seed planted in fall will provide a lush early harvest.

Still in the ground from fall are beets, arugula and broccoli which hate freezing temperatures. Double layers of row cover protected them enough that I was still harvesting broccoli and arugula in mid-December.  Row cover is a simple mesh fabric that looks like white interfacing (for those of you who sew) and can be ordered through Gardener’s Supply magazine and many other online sites.  Laid directly over your plants like a blanket, the fabric lets light and water through while protecting plants from cold temps and drying winds.

Even if you were never a fan of collards, you may be very surprised by this appetizer from the “Taste of Thai” restaurant (Westover Terrace & Mill Street in Greensboro.) It is sort of like a lettuce wrap, only with 4” squares of fresh collard leaves!  The idea is to set a leaf in the palm of your hand and fill it with a little of each of the condiments below, add a drop of sauce, then roll it up and eat it.  Forget trying this with lettuce – nothing really nothing works as well or tastes as good as a deveined collard leaf!

TasteofThai appetizersmaller_087

Here is what’s in each little dish: peanuts, tiny pieces of fresh lime (including the rind), unsweetened coconut, fresh chopped onion and ginger root.  I guessed at the sauce, but about half Hoisin sauce and half Asian Sweet & Sour sauce is perfect.  Each bite is such a burst of flavor, you cannot believe it could be so good for you!

Surprisingly, Kale can be delicious when eaten raw too.  This salad makes the perfect lunch!

Quinoa & Kale Salad   (Click here for a printable version: Kale & Quinoa Salad)

1 cup Quinoa, cooked and chilled
(Rinse quinoa in warm water a few times before cooking to remove it’s natural bitter coating.)
1 large bunch of fresh Kale
1 -16oz can of Chic peas, drained
1/3 cup Craisins
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
6 oz Feta cheese

¼ c. Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Agave nectar or honey
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
½ tsp pepper or chili powder

Remove ribs and tough stems from Kale and tear into 1” to 2” pieces.  Add dressing to kale and “massage” it with your hands until it is thoroughly coated and kale is wilted.  Add remaining ingredients.  Serve cold.  This makes a big salad that keeps a few days in the fridge.

The winter solstice is past, the days are slowly getting longer and gardening season is just around the corner. May you be blessed in the new year with health, love and happiness.  Ellen

3 Comments on Yummy Winter Greens

  • GraceAnn Rhoads says:
    January 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I have been in Wilmington, NC since right after Christmas. I fell in love again with a neighbor’s tree that had pretty white blooms in Nov & continues to be nice & green with interesting pods in Dec. I finally asked her what the tree was & she said loquat. I looked it up & it is a fruit tree. I’d like to plant a small tree in my yard here in Greensboro. I have not been into fruit trees ever & still don’t really care about the loquat fruit. But the tree is lovely year round & has pretty white blooms that smell so good & the fruit is tiny apricot looking things that don’t drop. I’m thinking I might try it. However, the tree can get 20-30 feet. Uhhhhhhhh ! Do you know anything about this tree? Thanks, GraceAnn


    • admin says:
      January 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Grace Ann,
      The Loquat tree is very lovely, but unfortunately for us if it a Zone 8 plant (Greensboro is a colder Zone 7) which means that it would look really bad after today’s 5 degree weather (vs. 19 degrees in Wilmington.) It would probably lose it’s leaves entirely and may or may not come back the next spring, but would not be the beautiful tree you see in Wilmington. Do not despair, there are lots of lovely evergreen trees that live well here and lots of delicious fruits we can grow! See you in class!


  • Sandy Garrett says:
    January 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Dear Ellen & Jim,
    Happy New Year!!! I miss, miss, miss you & gardening!! Thank you for the wonderful blog that gives us a taste of Green, when everything around us is so bleak & gray!

    I’m headed into surgery on the 14th & can not wait to be out of this pain. The cold & rain have just been miserable, these past few days. Looming forward to gettin it done & gettin back out in the garden late spring. (At least, that’s what the doc promised!). Say a little prayer that day, if you will.

    I hope you have a wonderful rest of the winter & keep up the good work! You are amazing to me! I want to have just 1/4 of your knowledge! And would love to whip my little plot of land into shape. Maybe one day!!

    Take care! Best wishes for 2014!


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