A friend once told me her goal was to incorporate something she grew in her garden into every meal she ate. I liked her concept, but my vegetable garden is far too small to eat something at every meal, so I aim to eat each day.
It's much easier to achieve my goal in our fall and winter vegetable-growing season because of the vast amount of greens and lettuce we can grow in these months. If I simply eat a salad or add lettuce to a sandwich, I've made my goal.
Whether you are an expert gardener or just beginning, I have always found vegetable gardening in the cool season much more enjoyable and successful mainly because of the bulletproof vegetable that can be grown at this time of year.
Now's the time to plant beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, collards, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, rutabaga, shallot, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
Beets, carrots, radishes and turnips are root-crop vegetables that call for direct seeding, or planting the seeds straight into the garden. If the seeds were planted into a cell pack or pot for transplant, it is very likely the main tap root could be damaged or at least negatively affected during transplant. Another good reason to direct seed is because the seed for plants such as lettuce and mustard is extremely cheap.
Cabbage, celery, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard still have time to be grown from seed, but to get a few weeks head start, consider buying transplants from the nursery or garden center.
Leaf lettuce is one of my favorite types of lettuce to grow as opposed to a head lettuce. With leaf lettuce, you can plant a lot of them and harvest a few leaves off each every day. The plant will continue to grow through the fall, winter and spring, allowing a longer harvest, whereas while a head lettuce will yield more at one time, you have to cut the whole head off and replant.
The goal of incorporating one item from my garden into one meal a day has certainly been an eye-opening experience. Rather than growing a vegetable garden to see what or how much I am able to produce, this goal has focused my efforts and forced me to plan ahead with planting and use of each plant. I encourage you to try a similar vegetable gardening goal.