While I am tidying up, I am also running around harvesting the last crops out of the garden. There are quite a few that needed the whole season to reach maturity, and there are others that I planted in August that are ready to eat now.
Twinned roots! Complete with lots of worm-filled dirt: Brilliant celeriac
Celeriac, or celery root, is one of the former. I started these puppies indoors with the celery, Italian parsley, cutting celery (wonderful crop: tastes like a mix of celery and curly parsley), and Chinese parsley all going in under the lights way back in February. While I have been harvesting all these other crops all spring, summer and fall, the celeriac gets a pass until now. I appreciate its knobby ugliness mashed with potatoes, or sliced raw in a salad, or used as a subtle “what is that taste” in a creamed soup. The tops and stalks likewise can be used like celery, though they’re admittedly stringier.
August-planted crops include bulb fennel and kohlrabi, baby turnips and rapini. I actually never plant these crops in the spring, and always wait for August: they tend to get big, spicy, woody, and bolt into seed if they’re spring planted. Fennel is another one of those miraculous vegetables that can be cooked or eaten raw: indeed, when salad lettuces are scarce, a fennel/apple salad is quite welcome, and wonderfully crunchy too. And the fronds are tasty little garnishes to add to any dish. When my fish-averse husband is out of town, the girl and I usually chow down on a bouillabaisse in which fennel plays a major part.
Purple kohlrabi: a bit on the small side but tasty
I have converted more people to kohlrabi than I have to any other vegetable. I am not quite sure why this is: were they afraid to try it otherwise? It does look otherworldly. This is another better-as-salad vegetable, but that could just be me. Its subtle broccoli-stem flavor tends to go away when cooked. We eat it julienned or chopped or even just shredded in a salad.
Turnips and Swedes (rutabagas) are actually something I do plant in spring, but most turnips get infernally hot unless I pick them as babies. Fall turnips, though, are just sweet things, accepting life as part of a roasted root veg dish, as part of a stew, or–of course–eaten raw in a salad. I have found a variety, the Gilfeather turnip, that doesn’t get terribly hot as a spring-planted veg, but that’s mainly because it’s part rutabaga. My mother, an Atkins zombie, eats rutabagas like candy, so I always grow a few rows for her.
Late August-seeded rapini joins late July-seeded broccoli in avoiding the summer cabbage-worm infestation that all my coles undergo. Rapini (broccoli raab) likewise can get blasted-hot if planted in the spring or summer, but it comes into its own quite well in the fall garden. This is one of our favorite sauteed greens. And broccoli. No need for explanation there.
And finally, a peek in the fennel forest in the new greenhouse. I harvest the big ones first, thus letting the others grow bigger; this crop should last until Christmas