Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

With Gene Sumi, Education Coordinator, Homestead Gardens, Inc.

When I tracked down Gene Sumi to ask him about THE SECOND PLANTING, he broke out in a huge smile and said, "This is the best time to plant"! Why? First, the sun and soil have worked diligently through the summer to prepare for you. The soil is warm enough to burst those seeds to germination. Seeds can be sown into the warm soil or you can simply plop in bedding plants. If you had a spring/summer edible garden, you most probably have already done the major soil amendments and of course, plotted out the garden. Now it's just the gravy! You can see from Gene's long list of veggies, this can be enough food to see you through most of the winter (given a bit of preserving the harvest).

By the Way...

Homestead Gardens has all of the listed bedding plants except Swiss Chard, spinach, brussel sprouts which will arrive a bit later. The carrots, peas and mache are not available as bedding plants at Homestead Gardens.

After you read through Gene's sage advice, I've given some recipes to get you inspired for the growing and harvest!



Most of us plant a summer garden, which we start indoors in early spring from seed or buy the already-started vegetable transplants from our garden centers in late spring. But many of us do not plant a cool-season vegetable garden at home and we definitely need to take advantage of this fabulous growing season!. The vegetables that we can grow during the cool months of spring and the cool months of the fall are different from the one we grow in the hot summer. Many edibles, like beets and carrots need the cold weather to intensify their sweetness. But the rewards of having such vegetables as these twice a year should not be missed.  So what kind of vegetables can be grown for harvest before or after summer?  Well, they include:

  • Bunching Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • Mustard
  • Corn salad (Mache)
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Asian greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Mesclun
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Collards
  • Beets

The second growing period for these cool-season vegetables starts in late August and September and harvest occurs in November through early winter.  Unlike the early spring season, the fall crop can be planted by seed directly in the soil.  The soil is warm in the late summer and seeds can be safely planted in the ground.  The seedlings and transplants will actually mature faster with the warmer soil.  This season will be longer, in that these plants will tolerate the cold of fall and early winter, but the spring crop goes to seed and dies with the heat of summer.  There is an advantage in taste as well.  Cruciferous vegetables (those related cabbage, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and  collards), will actually become sweeter after exposure to the early frosts.  Many of these crops can be planted in containers, as well as in the ground.  Lettuces, salad greens, Asian greens, and spinach can be grown in pots, planters, hanging baskets and Earthbox® containers.  There may be some insect and disease pests around early in the season, but there should be almost none after the first frost.

Don’t miss this final chance for home-grown fresh vegetables which will lead you through the chills of winter.

The recipe below was inspired by The Nourished Kitchen where I often turn for real food insight. Do keep the lighter colored beets separated for a more visual salad.

Triple Beet Salad Recipe with Fresh Basil and Olive Oil

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed beets, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups chopped mixed basil
  • 2 cloves medium garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar (such as Braggs)

Steam the beets over rapidly boiling water until they become tender, about five minutes or so.  If using multiple varieties, note that the red beets will stain the other varieties so you may wish to steam them separately.

Once tender, immediately plunge the steamed beets into a bowl of ice water, allowing them to chill until completely cool.

Drain the beets and pat them dry.Combine the drained beets with chopped basil, minced garlic.

Toss with the vinegar and olive oil.

Serve cold.


Egyptian Quinoa Salad

Serves 2

This is a most interesting hardy salad recipe incorporating that miracle grain, quinoa, for protein, and some of your fall veggies. With its nutritional value, it can actually be a main meal.


I’m going to spend more time perusing Egyptian recipes as I am learning they are unique enough to be interesting without having too many foreign ingredients.

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water, plus 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups grated fresh carrots
  • 1/2 cup sliced marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh spinach, greens, steamed Swiss chard, cut into strips
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Greek dressing, recipe follows
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat feta

Cover quinoa with 4 cups of water and rub the grains between the palm of your hands for 2 seconds. Drain and repeat the process 1 more time.

Bring 4 ½  cups water to a boil; add quinoa, sea salt, and olive oil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Let cool, then fluff with a fork. Add the artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, spinach, cherry tomatoes, parsley, and Greek dressing, and toss to mix well. Sprinkle with pine nuts and feta cheese.

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


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