In order for your garden to serve you well, this is the time to gather all that is ripe and create healthy soups and stews made from your vegetable harvest.
As I walk through the Pine Street Community Garden in Carlsbad, each gardener has their own overflow, which if not processed now will turn to seed or fall off the vine.
In the case of many tomatoes, the indeterminate variety (such as many of the cherry and small tomatoes) will produce for the next month, and then die off.
One of the most prolific crops in our Senior Garden was squash.
Butternut squash, zucchini and spaghetti squash all flourished in the raised beds, which received full sun all day.
Winter squash and small pumpkins are often left in the field because they become so prolific (ours produced over 10 two pound beauties, but we ended up giving many away to other gardeners).
As with other squash, the winter butternut squash flesh is heavy and full of golden goodness, unlike the summer squash, which must be used almost immediately or they rot either on the vine or on your kitchen table.
Emilita Moll, one of my students at the Carlsbad Senior Garden on Pine Street, loves to assist in the garden planting and maintenance, and is our expert in utilizing garden greens and squash.
Since she was born in the Philippines, and now lives in Carlsbad, she brings to our group years of gardening experience and healthy cooking methods.
“In the Philippines we use every part of the vegetable. With the squash, I use the pulp, the seeds and even the skin.
The squash can be combined with any variety of greens in a crockpot or large stockpot, simmered in stock until the squash gets soft.
“Adding beans (either white beans, pinto or black) will add to the protein content and fill you up. I always add onions and garlic to give it a deeper flavor.”
EAT YOUR GREENS
I have had the pleasure of learning new recipes for vegetables from all the gardeners at the Carlsbad Senior Garden.
Emilita shared with the group her philosophy of cooking to promote good health.
“In the Phillipines we eat lots of greens every day,” Emilita said. “The greens keep your body healthy and are easy to grow.”
This year at the garden we experimented with many new greens, including Bok Choi and all varieties of kale.
Fellow gardener Dan Roberts brought an envelope of tiny Bok Choi seeds and we all tried to germinate them.
To our pleasant surprise, every one of the 100 seeds we tried germinated, so we were giving away seedlings to anyone who would take them.
We have also experimented with Amaranth, which is a grain that not many Americans are familiar with.
“Amaranth is basically made up of over 60 species of grains that have been around for around 8,000 years,” according to Healthline. “It typically has a nutty flavor and is versatile in terms of the dishes it can be used for. It’s also gluten-free and has high levels of protein, antioxidants, fiber, and other crucial nutrients.”
It has been a pleasure to work with all the gardeners at the Carlsbad Senior Center Community Garden over the past summer.
The Senior Garden Club is open to any senior in the Carlsbad area, and interested gardeners can call (760) 602-4650 to register.
Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist and Master Gardener, and teaches gardening classes in North County. Contact her at [email protected] for more information.