In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
November, 2005
Regional Report

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The colors of the season make a richly hued autumn bouquet.

Please Pass the Pie!

Presumably, back in the Pilgrims' 1860's New England the seasonal autumn menu choices included many fruits and vegetables we still enjoy on our tables today. You might have more of a taste for some of these items than for others, but proponents of the plant-based diet would approve: parsnips, carrots, turnips, chard, cabbage, and spinach along with parsley, sage, thyme, marjoram, and onions for seasoning. Corn, dried beans, dried blueberries, cranberries, grapes, and nuts round out the choices based on what would have been available in New England at this time of year.

If you think about it, many of these vegetables can be grown as a cool-season crop or can be held in a root cellar type of storage (or left in the ground) for a long time. Your winter squashes, too, will hold at a cool room temperature for months. And dried foods can be stored for extended periods. With luck, your stores will last to feed you through the winter.

Putting Food By
Although compared to centuries ago most of us are relative dilettantes in the garden produce realm, the more determined among us may have a personal stash of home-grown and preserved foods to enjoy this winter. We have processing options and time-savers that were not available back then: pressure canning in jars, drying in a dehydrator, or freezing in our home freezer.

Some of our modern growing methods may enable us to enjoy home-grown foods freshly picked as late as Thanksgiving and even beyond. Tending a few herbs on the windowsill is within reach for many of us. Techniques like successive plantings to raise a late crop of cool-season, cold-tolerant veggies, such as greens and parsley, are simple to use in the garden. Slightly more advanced and intensive measures might include using frost blankets and poly tunnels, or even a heating cable within a cold frame to extend our growing and harvest season for weeks beyond normal. And a greenhouse would, of course, allow us the luxury of gardening through the winter.

But for now, with a mix of store-bought and home-grown, I'm happy and thankful to join in and enjoy the bounties of the season. Especially that custardy pumpkin mixture baked in a golden crust. I was shocked to learn the Pilgrims did not serve pumpkin pie!


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