Brighten up a gray day (at least that's how it is here in Alabama) with the first garden update of 2013 from Farmer Mary Beth. -Phillip
In our Cooking Light garden this January day, it's a balmy, drippy 68 degrees. What? Yes. You read that correctly. And just a few days ago it was 28 degrees. Both the plants and I are confused. Despite the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts understandably not showing their pretty heads, we have lots of gorgeous leafy greens. The mustard greens are fully flourishing now. We have both Southern Giant Curled (right), with frilly, neon green leaves, and Japanese Giant Red. I highly recommend these as tangy additions to your plate and as statuesque, stately plants dotted within your flower beds. The ornamental value is just eye-popping as their addition in this Honey-Wine Glazed Chicken Thighs with Mustard Greens recipe.
We are also continually harvesting kale and our patch of Purple Dragon and Paris Market carrots. David and I have vowed to always have a patch of carrots from which to pluck. We converted my whole family into the fresh candy-carrot addiction over the holidays. I'm often asked what garden vegetable tastes the most different from supermarket produce. Fresh carrots! Wait...tomatoes...no, peas...and don't forget lettuces! Hey, just grow them all. Trust us.
Off with their heads and over to the photo studio! A benefit to a mild January is harvesting broccoli. Now we're seeing the side shoots emerge. The bonus of growing your own broccoli? You can eat the ENTIRE plant. The flower is what you are most familiar with eating, but the stem, leaves and subsequent side shoots triple the rewards of your efforts.
Next up? Our garden has a neat selection of cabbages forming: a quilted, dimpled Perfection Drumhead savoy and a cone-shaped Cour di Bue that conjure memories of Saturday Night Live. And while we wait on those to fill out, we are poring over seed catalogs to plot and plan for a new spring crop. Any favorites to recommend?