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GARDENER'S READING ROOM
Edibles

Harvest a Wealth of Winter Vegetables

When you are walking, cycling or driving through your neighborhood you may have noticed something different: many gardeners have transformed a drab median into a vital, bountiful vegetable garden. Home gardens are overflowing with tastebud-tickling inspiration. Vegetable gardens are sprouting up all over, and people are discovering that a drive towards self-sufficiency is more fulfilling than a drive to the grocery store.

Eating fresh, high-quality, no-mileage vegetables from your own back yard is one simple solution to many problems. Want fresh? Local? Chemical-free? No packaging? The list can go on....

Sky Nursery has a staff of experienced and passionate vegetable gardeners to help you, while our northwest mild winter offers a wealth of opportunity to grow many kinds of vegetables. To get growing, create rich soil by mixing in compost or manure. Decide how much space you have and which vegetables you want. Finally, get a good organic fertilizer such as Dr. Earth™. Pick up Seattle Tilth's The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide or Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon for great vegetable gardening information.

Here is a list of what you can plant from starts as of press time:

For a boost of vitamin-packed energy, plant broccoli. 'Packman' keeps on truckin' with generous side-shoot production and high-yielding 'Fiesta' gives you beautiful broccoli heads. A little winter chill sweetens Brussels sprouts, green or purple, roasted or steamed. Another versatile veggie is crunchy cabbage. Try reliable 'Danish Ballhead' or 'Late Flat Dutch.' How about 'Snow Crown' cauliflower with mashed potatoes? Mineral-rich, flavorful kale can be added to soups and stews. 'Red Russian' kale has blue-green leaves with violet stems, 'Redbor' has a deep purple, frilled leaf, and 'Nero di Toscana', with its deep green crumpled leaf, is widely used in Italian cooking. Kale is delicious and holds up well in winter, growing sweeter frost after frost. So many people love spinach, so plant 'Bloomsdale' or 'Tyee' for handfuls of succulent greens. In this rainy big city grow 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard to liven up a stir fry.

To create a gourmet salad you can grow a variety of leafy greens. Easy to grow arugula is a peppery green that adds a little spunk to your salad. Winter mustards like 'Kyoto Mizuna' and 'Red Giant' add texture and mouth-filling flavor. What kind of lettuce do you enjoy? We carry over thirty varieties as starts! Red lettuces carry more beta-carotene, so add a touch of dramatic red with 'Merlot', 'Sweet Valentine' or 'Red Sails.' Toss in some 'Key Lime,' 'Thai Green,' or 'Buttercrunch' lettuce. For texture in your gourmet salad add one of the red or green oakleaf lettuces, or speckled 'Trout's Back.' Oh, and beet greens are colorful, tasty, and the roots are filled with delicious sweetness. Apparently, beets house betacyanin, a plant pigment which increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood by up to 400%! Whoa! Top your salad off with organic violas or pansies for a little surprise and a lot of color.

Now instead of counting your winter woes you can welcome a wealth of winter vegetables! Mmmm...

By Kristel Dillon
Skylights Autumn 2009, Vol 24, No. 3

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Sky Nursery
18528 Aurora Avenue North
Shoreline, WA 98133
(206) 546-4851 sky@skynursery.com

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