Easy, yummy fall gardening

If you grow any kind of food, you’re likely giddy with glee over how the recent rains turbo-charged our water-starved veggie, nut, and fruit friends. But what’s just as real as rain and well, reality, is the fact that in central Texas, we gardeners often got to deal with less-than-favorable gardening conditions. That’s why we always keep some tough old gals in the garden who’ll produce—or just stay alive—through heat waves and drought.

The fall garden season is ideal for enjoying some easy gardening with a whole slew of hardy, reliable veggies. Kids and grownups groove on faves such as carrots, peas, broccoli, spinach, and greens—and if you get busy right quick, you can still get a fall crop of cherry tomatoes and green beans! If you’re a newbie, learn how to fall garden at Green Corn classes; garden newbies and oldbies can amp up the fun by joining a dig-in that helps others grow their own food.

And whether you’re now chowing on a revivified summer crop or licking your chops over the fall haul to come, the EATING part of gardening has got to be one of the best things ever invented. Lately, I’ve been inspired by my tough-as-nails garden pal chard, who stood by me (and my watering hose) all the way through the heinous heat.
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The key to yummy chard for me is pairing it with whatever savory soup broth, sauce, or filling I’ve got going. So I’ll slice up some ruffley leaves to slide into any soup I’m heating up and add handfuls to just about any sauce from tomatoey pasta toppings to say, a garlicky mushroom-chicken melange. Plus, chard leaves make excellent wraps for any kind of leftover or sandwich filling! Check it out:

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Just dip the leaves briefly into simmering salted water, and the chard becomes a strong, pliant wrap for (above) a Greek-style sauté of leftover rice, garlic, lemon, oregano, feta cheese, and pistachio and (right) oniony baked winter squash sparked with orange juice next to Indian-inspired leftover mashed potatoes zipped up with sauteed mustard seeds, onions, cumin, and peas.

As they say in Paris (Texas), très bon! And on top of all this deliciousness, chard (along with other greens) is a nutritional powerhouse veggie, so you’ll be getting all Popeye, too. Seems like now’s a good time, as they say down on 6th street, to “chardy hearty” and get going with a bounteous fall garden!

–Helen, GCP volunteer

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