Once wintry temperatures hit here in hardiness zone 7, gardening mostly goes on hiatus. However I’ve managed to extend the harvest season a bit by planting cold hardy plants like kale in the fall. One of those dark leafy greens that bridges the gap between salad and vegetable, Kale makes a fantastic cold season crop. Planted in August/September, a late fall or even early winter harvest is possible, and the same plants will come back after a short dormancy for an early spring crop before bolting. A few other vegetables who actually benefit from a touch of frost are Brussels sprouts and root vegetables such as carrots. They develop greater sweetness and less bitter flavors if grown in the cold. A few kinds of root vegetables can even be harvested throughout the winter, assuming the soil is not too frozen to dig them out. Just leave them in the garden bed under a layer of mulch until you’re ready to eat them. The following three are on my list to try for next year:
A member of the carrot family, parsley is well known for its hearty greens, which are commonly used as garnish. While parsley root also has edible greens, it is grown primarily for its pale roots that resemble ghostly carrots. Root parsley is used as a delicious soup ingredient all over Central Europe. It’s flavor is somewhere between celery and carrots with a little something all its own. Whether roasted, steamed, or boiled, it should be an excellent complement to some other root veggies.
Related to both carrots and parsley, it is not surprising that the parsnip’s white roots looks similar as well. In terms of flavor, parsnips are well known for their sweetness. Pair with carrots and roast in the oven for a great side dish.
Pungent and peppery, a little of this root goes a long way. Planting is best done in the spring and even roots from the grocery store can be planted. Harvest begins in late fall/early winter after the leaves wilt from frost and can continue throughout the season if the soils is workable.