URBAN GARDENER: Turnips will amaze you

Shredded, they make a wonderful addition to your salad

No patio. No balcony. No south facing window?

That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy picking a few fresh greens grown right in your living room this winter. You can start by buying a bag of turnips from the farmer’s market or health food store. Eat some of them chopped in strips and enjoy their mellow crispness. Shredded, they make a wonderful addition to your salad. Slice them in wedge shapes and roast them crisp with a bit of olive oil and a dash of Cajun pepper.

Now, for the secret of growing fresh greens. Take a few of the smaller turnips and place them in an attractive container, toss in some dirt and stick the pot in a window corner. Miraculously, using only their stored energy the turnips will begin sprouting delicious greens, even if the light is insufficient. It is amazing. Just make sure the turnips have not been dipped in wax.  If you do  have a south facing window save it for your precious winter herbs and find an east or west facing window for your newest experiment in winter food production.

There is still time to plant a few herbs and veggies in November.  Broad beans, also known as favas, are a highly nutritious vegetable. They are useful as a replacement for garbanzo beans in hummus or as a base for pestos and soups. If you plant them this month you’re going to need a very sheltered part of the garden. A cold frame or a cloche would be ideal to protect them for the next few chilly months. Just be warned…they will grow up to six feet so you may find them bursting through the roof of the average cold frame.

Another plant that is more than willing to prevail despite bone chilling rain and frozen ground is garlic. There is still time to plant this pungent friend according to the WestCoast Gardening Guide. Garlic is a bulb that  requires nine or ten months of growth. It will be July or August before harvesting. When you finally lift your very own home grown garlic from the warm summer earth you’ll know the long wait was worth it.

Did You Know That…it’s the right time to mulch your perennials with wood chips, leaves, straw and kelp? Don’t dig deeply around your plants as it disturbs the microbiological relationship of the plants with the other growth surrounding them. Remember to mulch, mulch, mulch before winter really sets in. Also wood chips are preferred to bark mulch as the chips have more nutrients and decompose more readily.