September 12, 2011

The Vegetable Garden Turns Toward Fall

Although today is a summery day, with sun and mild temperatures, the vegetable garden is signaling that autumn is on its way. The winter squashes are ripe; I cut them from the dying vines a few days ago and now they brighten my porch as they cure in the sun.

Corn, which signals summer, is now finished, the ears eaten or frozen for winter. The tassels have dried and the leaves colored.

Some of the tomato plants are still valiantly ripening tomatoes, even though much damaged by early blight.

As fall makes itself more evident, with cooler temperatures and warmer color in the trees, I begin to think of the cool weather crops, especially the brassicas. I think red cabbage is one of the most beautiful plants in the garden, with its large purple-green leaves embracing the deeper red head at their center. My lunchtime cravings begin to turn from lettuce salads, which for me speak of spring and summer, to those made with cabbage.

Brussels sprouts, another brassica, is one of the great treats of fall, though they taste better after they've been frosted a couple of times...

as does kale. Both vegetables become sweeter and more tender after frost. The gorgeously ruffled leaves of kale adds a frilly beauty to the garden, while Brussels sprouts are an illustration of the order of nature since the sprouts and leaves, in their arrangement along the stem, conform to the Golden Mean.

Leeks are another stunning plant in the garden, their long blue-green leaves overlapping in a regular pattern along the shaft. I hill soil up against the plants during the summer, for more tender white, hidden underground. How could I be sad to see summer go, with all these delicious meals to come?


  1. I didn't know you could freeze corn? How do you do it? Our tomato plant leaves are fading as the last of the tomatoes ripen.

  2. Susan, I boil the cobs for 2 minutes, then put them in icy water until cooled. Then I cut off the kernels with a knife and freeze them spread out on a tray. When they're frozen, I load them into a gallon freezer bag. It's quite delicious as a side dish or for stews or cornbread all winter long.

  3. Oh stop. You are making me hungry. I agree that veggies are beautiful.