Get ready to plant delicious fall vegetables

Let me introduce you to three families of vegetables to invite into your garden: greens, roots and cabbages. They are easy to grow, especially during our fall weather. Plant them before Columbus Day so they’ll pay for their stay. These veggies add nutrients, fiber and zest to your winter diet.

For a more in-depth discussion of caring for these vegetables, join Cyndi Dixon and me at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to grow to reduce your expenses on food.

The greens have four offspring: lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and parsley.

Lettuce probably offers the most opportunities to mix and blend into edible landscapes. The familiar head type does best in fall gardens. Romaine forms rosettes of elongated leaves that have a distinct flavor. Loose-leafed varieties are easy to grow and last longer if you harvest their outer leaves.

Spinach does best through the winter planted just about anywhere in the garden. It’s delicious in salads, stir-fried with a little garlic, or added to soups, quiches and casseroles.

Swiss chard is prolific and will last into next summer. Cook it like spinach, eat it raw in salads or use it as “lettuce” fillers in sandwiches.

Parsley decorates just about every gourmet dish. Its long-lasting crispy leaves and distinctive taste are popular in salads, stuffings, meat dishes, soups and sauces.

The roots consist of beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips and the adopted onions and garlic. The roots do their work underground, so add organic matter to the soil so they’ll develop.

Beets are a fall favorite. You’ll particularly cherish the flavor of the beet tops, but leaf quality declines once roots begin to size up.

Carrots are rich in vitamin A, a favorite with health enthusiasts. Carrots have few natural enemies and are simple to grow. Carrots need an open soil to develop or they become stunted and malformed and develop a strong, undesirable flavor.

Radishes love the fall climate. Radishes take only about 25 days to mature. For a continuous supply, make successive plantings. Thinning is a must, or they’ll develop all tops.

Turnips, when eaten in their prime, are favorites, and fall weather allows this to happen. Bitterness is more of a problem in the spring.

People either love or hate parsnips. Resentment arises if you don’t eat them at the peak of quality. Afterward, the roots develop a disagreeable texture.

Onions add zip to meals. Raise onions from seed or “sets” (small immature bulbs). Thin out green onions while small, so the traditional onions can mature next spring.

The cabbage family includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi.

Cabbage is easy to grow if you get it in early. Plant red varieties to add zest to your garden and salads.

Broccoli, the part we eat, consists of partially developed flower buds exhibiting cauliflower characteristics. For best quality, harvest while it’s still tight in the bud. This will result in more buds to harvest.

Cauliflower is cabbagelike with condensed and thickened flower clusters instead of leaves. As heads begin forming, cover them so they’ll stay pure white.

Kohlrabi is easy to grow and needs to be planted more. We eat the swollen stems, which are very decorative.

PLANT GIVEAWAY

Between 10 a.m. and noon Thursday, the Springs Preserve will give away three more gorgeous Mojave perennials, so get there early to get yours. Here’s something about them:

Climbing snapdragon is a perennial producing purplish velvet flowers from spring to fall. If the frost bites it, it bounces back next spring.

Velvetleaf senna is a perennial found in rocky soils and mesas. Bright yellow flowers bloom most during the heat. Place it among cactuses and agaves, where its texture provides contrast or plant several as background shrubs.

Prince’s plume is a perennial found in washes blooming through the summer on long spikes featuring clusters of bright yellow flowers. Light-green waxy foliage makes an excellent backdrop for showing off the flowers.

COLLECT NATIVE SEEDS TO GROW YOUR OWN

Learn how to collect seeds and propagate native plants. It’s time to collect these jewels, and Springs Preserve experts will go over the details so you will be successful. The program is at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Both the vegetable gardening seminar and collecting seeds program are at the Springs Preserve. Call 822-778 for further details.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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