Fall greens

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About a month ago, I planted these beautiful cool-weather mustard greens in my vegetable garden, and we’ve been harvesting leaves for over a week now. They are Komatsuna (right) and Tokyo Bekana, and I bought the seeds in the gift shops at the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles when we were there in July.

Most people who grow vegetables don’t seem to grow fall and winter crops, and it’s a great shame and waste of space. By this time, most of the other crops in our community garden have succumbed to pests or disease or are winding down, especially when the weather is as cool as it’s been lately. I’m still getting a few tomatoes and eggplant, but the bulk of the harvest is over. But there are at least two months more to grow fall crops, without even considering a winter cold frame or other protection.

In addition to these delicious greens, both mild enough to eat raw, I also planted mesclun mix and kale. Both are doing nicely. Other possibilities for quick fall crops are radishes, lettuce, and peas–anything you usually grow in early spring will do well in fall. These crops have the advantage of maturing quickly, which means you harvest them before they can be attacked by pests of any kind.

The row of carrots in my vegetable garden has hosted swallowtail caterpillars almost all summer long. Here’s a scary-looking guy, a black swallowtail caterpillar, crawling up a carrot stem (notice the horribly chewed bean leaves, the result of a terrible infestation of Mexican bean beetles over the entire garden):

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