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Put Your Garden to Bed

Savor the season's last cold-tolerant crops while you prep your garden for hibernation.

Credit: Stephen Devries

A gardener's chore list this time of year depends on location: Those of us down South, like in our Alabama garden, can use row covers and poly tunnels to create encouragingly warm beds for hearty salad greens, kale, collards, and cabbage (see our recipes for two autumn favorites, radicchio and watercress, below). And frost blankets beat back the winter blues, allowing pockets of warm air to keep greens growing underneath.

However, if deep snow and single-digit temps are the norm where you live, it's smart to put the garden to bed. Let nature do the work of building rich soil teeming with organic matter and enriching garden beds for spring plantings: Pile soil high with leaves raked, bagged, or borrowed. These decompose into viable leaf mold and block early spring weeds. Although you won't have the satisfaction of getting your hands dirty outside, you can relish the fireside opportunity to thumb through seed catalogs, daydreaming of spring while you cover garden beds with cozy blankets and settle them in for a long winter's nap.

Don't forget your containers! | Credit: FIRINA/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

If you use pots and planters in your garden design, make sure they won't freeze and crack with the changing temperatures. Empty, scrub, and store clay pots indoors (or try buffering the room for expansion by wedging a layer of bubble wrap inside the container wall before filling with soil each spring). Resin, poly, or metal containers don't need this special treatment.

WATERCRESS, PROSCIUTTO, AND GOAT CHEESE LINGUINE Peppery watercress brightens up this hearty pasta. Baby kale would also work well. Hands-on: 12 min. Total: 17 min.

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh linguine 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 3/4 ounces chopped prosciutto 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 4 ounces soft goat cheese, divided (about 1/2 cup) 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind 5 cups trimmed watercress (about 3 bunches) 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl; reserve 1 1/4 cups cooking liquid.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add prosciutto; sauté for 3 minutes or until browned and crisp. Remove prosciutto from pan with a slotted spoon; drain on a paper towel. Add red pepper to drippings in pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add reserved cooking liquid to pan; bring to a boil. Add 3 ounces goat cheese and salt, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until smooth. Stir in grated lemon rind. Add pasta; toss gently to coat. Add watercress, and toss gently to combine.

3. Place about 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving evenly with remaining 1 ounce cheese, prosciutto, and black pepper.

SERVES 4 CALORIES 323; FAT 12.2g (sat 5.3g, mono 4g, poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 17g; CARB 37g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 69mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 591mg; CALC 104mg

RADICCHIO, FRISÉE, APPLE, AND MANCHEGO SALAD Pleasantly bitter radicchio and frisée balance sweet notes from honey and fresh apple, while rich, salty Manchego rounds out the flavors. Hands-on: 10 min. Total: 10 min.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon honey 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 cups thinly sliced radicchio 2 cups frisée 1 cup thinly sliced Fuji apple 1 ounce shaved Manchego cheese

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add radicchio, frisée, and apple; toss well to coat. Divide salad evenly among 4 plates. Top with shaved cheese.

SERVES 4 (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups) CALORIES 126; FAT 9.4g (sat 2g, mono 4.9g, poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 3g; CARB 9g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 8mg; IRON 0mg; SODIUM 199mg; CALC 115mg

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