We’ve been harvesting into the chill of November at Stonegate this year, and the kale, mustards, Asian greens and soil-buried radishes are bravely fending off each successive frost, the mysterious heartbeat of chlorophyll still pulsing in their leaves.
Late season watermelon radishes, with their neon pink centers, have been glowing beneath frost and snow
The farm is usually tilled under and tidied up this time of year, but I was away and returned mid-month to find my greens rallying – even sweetened by their protective conversion of starches to sugars.
Many hearty greens in the brassica family (including cabbages, broccoli, radishes, kale, chard, mustards and brussels sprouts) will sweeten up after a few frosts. These plants respond to cold by transforming their energy stores into sugars and stashing them in their cells as frost protection. I even sautéed some radishes last week, and watched with delight as the extra sugars caramelized in the pan.
When all else green has given in to the onslaught of cold and dark, it’s a joy to see these stalwarts press on, flaunting their impervious-to-frost airs.
Tangy mustards, mixed leaf lettuce and radishes have all flourished into November, giving up some of their heat for sweet.
Kales are also being Vitamixed, greens eaten in Winter salads, radishes chopped and slivered into soup. Only the eggs have been absent, as the chickens have been in a molt for the last month, diverting their energy into growing a new duvet of feathers for the Winter. But they seem content and occupied, ranging under an open sky during the day, fluffing up and burying themselves into straw-padded roosts at night. La Dolce Pollo.
And there’s sweetness everywhere on the farm, it seems: In the transformative miracle of winter greens, inside the soft, clustered hum of the bee hives, in the joy of tending land that’s been put to purposeful use.
There’s nothing like caring for a few productive, sustainable acres to sweeten the starch out of your soul. –Mb