Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Planting

Here is the situation: we are just over 5 weeks away from Thanksgiving and I want to grow some food for it.  The time to have thought of this was May, really, but I didn't so I am going to go with things that will grow quickly and I will utilize nursery transplants.  Around here, it's also possible to have summer veggies still hanging on into November, but I'm not going to count on them.  It all depends on when the first frost comes and I'm not going to plan a menu around something so fickle.  This is what I plan to grow.

Chard transplants, too close together

I still have chard transplants from last fall that are growing very well.  I might add a few more transplants to ensure a large harvest, but I probably don't need it.  Chard is amazing because you can just pick the outside leaves and the center continues to grow.  I've been employing the cut-and-come-again method for a year and the chard shows no sign of slowing down.  The harvest will become Italian Chard Stuffing.  This recipe is amazing.  We made it last year and I ate the leftovers for days - it's a perfect dish filled with sausage, chard, and bread, basically a complete meal.  Well, complete when you add in some cranberry sauce...

Another leafy green that will grow well in the next few weeks is lettuce.  The time is a little short to plant from seed, unless I want micro-greens.  Therefore I'll pick up some transplants from the nursery.  As long as we don't get a hot spell and I can keep the slugs at bay, the lettuce should do well enough to create a nice large pear, walnut and blue cheese salad.  I think the mustard dressing and the blue cheese will add a nice counterpoint to the other sweet and savory flavors of Thanksgiving.  Also, I'll be able to pick the pears up in season at the farmer's market.

If you plant radishes from seed, they will be ready in 4-5 weeks.  That leaves me just enough time to put a bunch of radish seeds into the garden and hope they grow quickly enough.  I will use the fresh baby radishes in a little appetizer of thinly sliced radish on baguette with butter and sea salt.  With so many people coming for dinner (12 and counting), it will be key to have some yummy nibbles kicking around to avoid a hunger-inspired mutiny.

This one is a complete and utter experiment.  There isn't enough time to grow full-sized carrots, but there might be time to grow some little wee mini carrots.  I have several packets with seeds that need to be used up (they are 2 or 3 years old so their viability is waning).  I will plant them and then see what happens.  Even if they are small, I can serve them as crudites or (what I am loosely planning to do) roast them with some other root vegetables.  If it works, I think the teeny carrots will be an adorable addition to the usual roasted Thanksgiving suspects.

I'll keep you all posted on the progress and if you are growing anything for your Thanksgiving feast, drop a note in the comments!

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