The fall season continues this week at the SKY Farmers Market with more fall harvest crops including:
- turnip greens
- collard greens
- oriental greens
- winter squash
- sweet potatoes
- onions and shallots
Of course there will be
Pumpkins and Mums
as well as summer produce like
cucumbers, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, and peppers.
The SKY Farmers Market is open through the end of October with fresh locally grown produce, meat, eggs, milk and cheese, coffee, plants, flowers, fall decorations, hot breakfast, and more.
Wake up with the SKY Farmers Market this Saturday and get the weekend off to a fresh start!
See you there!
Just about everyone flocks to nurseries and garden centers in the spring to work on their yards and plant their gardens, but the fall planting season is sadly under-utilized by most gardeners.
Of course, mums and pansies are planted at this time of year for fall color, but there are lots of other plants that thrive during this season.
Especially in our relatively mild climate, the fall is a long season of moderate weather that's perfect for establishing perennial roots, planting spring-blooming flowers, and raising cool season vegetables.
Get half a year's head start by planting shrubs like crape myrtle and rosebushes as well as most trees in the fall. Woody plants will take advantage of the fall and early winter to grow roots, even as their top parts are going dormant. Fall planted trees and shrubs will be ready to take off growing as soon as conditions allow in the late winter and early spring.
Many herbaceous perennials can also be planted in the fall for spring and summer blooms in the following season. You can sometimes get a great deal on these plants in the fall from nurseries that want to clear out their stock for the winter.
There are a number of wildflowers and garden flowers that naturally germinate in the fall. These 'winter annuals' hug the ground and grow very little if at all through the winter, then take off as conditions warm up in the late winter.
Seed for larkspur, cornflowers, sweet rocket, brown-eyed susans, and poppies can all be planted in prepared soil from late September through October for spring flowers. Keep the soil moist until they germinate. Once established, most winter annuals will be self-sowing and grow themselves in your garden if you let them.
Fall bulbs produce some of the biggest and most impressive spring flowers in the garden. Tulips, lilies, daffodils, alliums, and a whole host of other fall-planted bulbs come in a great variety of bold colors and striking forms. Planting masses of spring flowering bulbs during October will give you a beautiful reward in the spring and most of them will continue to bloom for many springs to come.
Garlic should also be planted now and will be ready to harvest in late May and early June. To plant garlic, just break up the bulbs and plant the individual cloves pointy end up.
Winter squash and pumpkins are quintessentially local and seasonal foods. A cupboard full of fleshy and colorful squash is a staple of the locavore's winter kitchen. Winter squash add a seasonal touch of color and freshness to the fall table, look pretty on the counter or out in the yard, and keep well through the winter.
Winter Squash is a vegetable that's low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.They make a simple and nutritious side dish. They're just perfect simply baked with a pat of butter. Most of the time, there's no need to add any flourishes. They can be enjoyed simply for themselves.
To bake a squash, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub the cut ends with oil or butter and place them face down on an ungreased pan. Bake at 375º for 30-45 minutes, until just tender, then turn it face up, smear a pat of butter all over the exposed flesh, and bake about 15 minutes more until done. The actual baking time will depend on the size and thickness of the squash.
Cutting through the thick rind and dense flesh might be the hardest part. My grandmother uses the biggest knife in the kitchen and a hammer!
There have never been so many different varieties of winter squash available as there are now, but all of them are one of three different types.
Acorn squash have a very light, moist flesh. They are typically green with a little orange coloring, but you can also find varieties that are white, orange, yellow or stripey. Acorn squash are fairly small, making a nice single serving size when cut in half.
Pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and a few specialty squash are the same species, Cucurbita pepo. They all have a similar type of flesh. Delicata and sweet dumpling squash are delicate and very sweet.
C. pepo varieties are not the best keeping of the winter squash. As they lose moisture in storage, they become dry and stringy. They're better eaten in the fall than held for the winter.
Butternut squash has smooth tan skin with orange flesh and an elongated pear shape. It's flesh is dense and moist with a sweet, rich flavor. It is an excellent home garden variety in Kentucky because the solid stems of this species, C. moschata, resist squash vine borers that kill squash vines by boring into the base of the stem.
Buttercup and Kabocha Squash
Cucurbita maxima includes many different varieties of squash, from small teardrop shaped Kabochas to Blue Hubbards to the Atlantic Giants that are raised for giant pumpkins. They are mostly roundish in shape with green, blue, orange or red warty skin. They have a smooth, dry flesh that makes a great pumpkin pie. They're also excellent in soup.
Choosing and Storing Winter Squash
Pick winter squash that feels heavy for it's size. A light squash has lost moisture and will be more dry and stringy. Squash should not have any soft spots, but some dry warts and blemishes are part of the normal ripening process.
Squash keep best at a temperature around 55º-60º. They can suffer from chill damage in the refrigerator, so a cool room temperature is better. Most homes will have a place where squash will keep well through the winter - a cool basement, an unused bedroom, or an unheated closet or pantry on an outside wall.
With a good store of winter squash in your home, you have a fresh, local vegetable ready to hand all winter long.
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Uniquely Italian, the pasta dumplings known as gnocchi are traditionally made from mashed potatoes. These squash gnocchi couldn't be easier to make or more colorful. It's a great way to use up leftover baked squash to make a delicate and delicious treat.
- 2 cups cooked squash
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2-2 3/4 cups flour, as needed
- 5 Tbs unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 12 fresh sage leaves, torn
Finely mash or puree cooked squash. Add the eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and stir until well mixed. Stir in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft and moist but not too sticky. Adjust the flour to keep the dough from becoming too sticky to handle.
To make the sauce, melt the butter with olive oil and garlic over very low heat. Add the torn sage leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Keep the mixture warm but don't let it scorch.
To make the gnocchi, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil then reduce it to medium heat. Place a platter in the warm oven.
Using 2 teaspoons, scoop up a walnut sized ball of dough with one spoon, then gently scrape it into the simmering water with the other spoon. Continue dropping in the batter until you have about 8 dumplings in the pot or enough to cover the surface without crowding.
When the dumplings rise to the surface, set your timer for 4 minutes. Continue cooking the gnocchi for 4 minutes or until they are firm through out. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon, place them on the warm platter, and drizzle with sage butter.
Continue cooking in batches, drizzling each new addition to the platter with sage butter. Toss lightly before serving and sprinkle with grated parmesan and black pepper.