Salad Greens You Can Grow in Winter
A Guide to Planting and Harvesting Winter Salad Greens

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
July 24, 2021

Want to eat fresh lettuce and salad greens this winter?  Late summer to early fall is the time to plant your winter garden.

Spinach grows well throughout the winter when protected in a cold frame or tunnel. Low winter light slows the growth. Young tender spinach leaves have an earthy flavour that pairs well with fruit in fresh salads.
Lettuce thrives well into winter in a cold frame or hoop house. Choose cold-hardy varieties such as Romaine or Cos, Buttercrunch or Bibb, and loose leaf lettuces.  Harvest as baby greens for crisp, mild salads. Grows slowly in low winter light.
Mâche (Corn Salad,  Lamb’s Lettuce) germinates best when overnight temperatures are below 10ºC / 50ºF. Low-growing, with a small rosette of delicate leaves, mâche has a mild, refreshing flavour. Cut the entire plant and serve intact. Easily bruised.
Claytonia (Miner’s Lettuce, Winter Purslane) is a cold-hardy West Coast native. Its succulent leaves and stems make it a top choice for salads. Cut the stems, leaving at least 5 cm (2 inches), and the leaves will grow back.
Arugula (Rocket) grows quickly with frost protection in the low light of winter. This tender green has a distinctive sharp flavour, which is milder during cold weather. Use arugula to add bite to fresh salads, or as a pizza topping.
Radicchio, such as the Treviso variety (above), thrives in cool weather and tolerates light frost. The bitter leaves of this chicory become mellower in cold temperatures. Radicchio's pungent taste goes well with balsamic vinegar.
Endive (above), frisée, and escarole grow easily during cooler months. Frisée has distinctive narrow, finely pointed leaves. Escarole has broad, rounded leaves. These chicories taste mildly bitter and add accent to salad.
Red Mustard greens, with their striking green and red leaves, grow well in winter. Frost deepens the flavour and colour. Tender when young, the peppery taste of this cold-hardy brassica sharpens as it matures. Eat fresh in salads, or stir fry.
Baby Bok Choi and Tatsoi are small-size relatives of broccoli, collards, and kale, which also grow in winter. These frost tolerant cabbage-like vegetables have thick crunchy ribs and tasty leaves. Bok choi grows upright; tatsoi forms a rosette.
Mizuna, an Asian green with distinctive jagged leaves and a pungent flavour, grows quickly in cool weather. Mizuna has a peppery taste that adds spice to stir-fries and soups. The small pointed leaves of mizuna bring texture to fresh salads.
Baby Beet Greens, the leaves of immature beet roots, like cool temperatures and tolerate light frost. Clip only a couple of leaves from each plant to allow the root to continue to grow. These tender, slightly bitter greens add vibrant colour to salads.
 
1/11
 
Spinach grows well throughout the winter when protected in a cold frame or tunnel. Low winter light slows the growth. Young tender spinach leaves have an earthy flavour that pairs well with fruit in fresh salads.

If you like fresh garden salads, you’ll be glad to know you can grow a full range of salad greens throughout the winter in our moderate southern BC maritime climate. Leafy winter salad vegetables come in a variety of flavours, colours and textures—from peppery to earthy, crunchy to delicate.
read more…

Cucumber Dill Salad

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
June 21, 2021

RECIPE

To me, this salad is like a taste of summer. There’s something more to it than its simple ingredients might suggest. Cucumber, fresh dill, and garlic, the bite of vinaigrette, and a touch of sugar meld together into a salad that is pleasingly pungent and slightly sweet.

I make this Cucumber Dill Salad recipe over and over again during cucumber season. I think you will too!

Cucumber Dill Salad


read more…

How to Have Ripe Local Tomatoes All Year
Enjoy Fresh Tomatoes Year-Round without Processing or Freezing

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
May 23, 2021

ripe tomatoes all yearIt’s becoming possible to eat ripe local tomatoes year-round in South Coast, BC. Through the use of season extension in the garden, careful choice of tomato varieties, and planned buying and storage, you can access a supply of fresh tomatoes throughout most of the year.

Whether you plant your own or simply buy local, here’s how:
read more…

Is Organic Food Better for You?
Study Outlines Benefits of Eating Organic Foods

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
April 23, 2021

Is eating organic food worth the price? Does it have more nutrition than conventional food? A landmark study from Newcastle University helps inform consumers.

Platter of fresh organic cherries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes and blueberries. Is Organic Food Better for You?

 

No surprise, but good news. A comprehensive study from Newcastle University in Great Britain confirms that organic food is better for you and the world. Using meta analysis, an advanced statistical technique, the international science team reviewed 343 individual food studies and found that organic crops contain significantly more healthy antioxidants and have dramatically lower pesticide levels than conventionally grown crops.
read more…

Protect your Plants from Heat, Cold, Wind and Rain
Creating Microclimates to Make Your Garden Resilient

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
March 21, 2021

You can protect your plants from heat, drought, wind, rain, and cold by creating microclimates throughout your garden. Here are some simple ways to shelter your plants from extreme weather.

Vegetables thrive in a cold frame, sheltered from wind and rain. Microclimates like this can shelter your Garden from Heat, Cold, Wind and Rain.

Cold frames protect vegetables from cold, wind, rain and frost, and extend the growing season.

Using Microclimates to Shelter Plants from Weather Extremes

Climate change is bringing a new challenge of weather extremes to gardeners and farmers across North America. The predictable weather patterns we knew and counted on are becoming more unpredictable. One week the weather may be hot and sunny—perfect for tomato transplants. The next week a cold wind pushes over young plants and chills their roots. It’s confusing to the plants, and to the growers too.

Adapting your growing area to protect young plants from heat, drought, wind, rain, and cold is a key to growing successfully. You can do this by creating microclimates that offer protection to vulnerable plants.

Microclimates are small areas that have different growing conditions from the surrounding region. These areas can shelter vulnerable plants and seedlings that are not strong enough to survive weather extremes. For example, a microclimate such as a sun trap, wind buffer, or radiant heat producer can protect plants from cold. In drought conditions, a cool microclimate, such as the area under a tree canopy or an umbrella, shades the plants beneath it and retains water to minimize heat stress.

 


read more…

Coriander Oil : A Natural Antibiotic
Infection-Fighting Properties from a Common Herb

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
February 23, 2021

Coriander (or cilantro, as the leaves are sometimes known), may do a lot more than just season your salsa. Scientists in Portugal, testing oil from coriander seeds, found the herb effective against such dangerous bacteria as E.coli and staphylococcus.

Coriander plants (also known as cilantro). Research shows coriander oil is a natural antibiotic.
read more…

Plant a Seed Saving Garden
A Way to Always Have Your Own Seed Supply

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 28, 2021

By growing open-pollinated plants and saving seeds, you’ll always have enough for next year’s garden.

Two hands opening a sun-dried pod with pea seeds. Plant a seed-saving garden.

Seed shortages and rising food prices due to the pandemic have generated huge demand for backyard gardens. Unfortunately for gardeners, this need collides with a rapidly consolidating seed industry. Dominated by a few global companies, seed corporations are determined to substitute patented seeds, which must be repurchased each year, for open-pollinated seeds, which gardeners can regrow indefinitely.

As gardeners, you can counter this trend by planting heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, and saving your seeds. This does more than simply save you the cost of buying new seeds each year—it builds diversity and resilience in the environment and our food supply.

Starting a Seed-Saving Garden

Starting a seed-saving garden is easy and depends on two things: 1) willingness to let your plants go to seed, rather than tidy up as soon as they bear fruit, and 2) choosing heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. Open-pollinated plants grow true to type, which means that (unlike hybrids) their seeds produce the same kind of plant as the parent. By selecting seeds from plants with the best flavour, size or other desired characteristics, you can create a garden most suited to your tastes and microclimate.
read more…

Seasonal Vegetables to Eat this Winter
Recipes and Cooking Tips for Seasonal Local Vegetables

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
December 19, 2020

Want to eat more seasonal winter vegetables? Here’s our guide to cooking and eating local in-season veggies in fall and winter.

Red, white, yellow and orange carrots. Seasonal vegetables to eat in winter.
Seasonal vegetables are the unsung heroes of winter eating. It may surprise you just how many winter veggies are available fresh. If you add in root vegetables, which keep well in storage for several months, you have a wide range of eating and cooking choices for the cold weather season.
read more…

Kale Chips

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
November 14, 2020

RECIPES

Parmesan Garlic Kale Chips  •  Ginger Basil Kale Chips  •  Tahini Lemon Kale Chips  

Baked kale chips with Parmesan and garlic recipe. bcfarmsandfood.com

Is the Kale Trend Over?

A few years ago when kale was all the rage, kale chips became an instant classic—a healthy snack food to make in minutes. The kale trend has subsided, but as winter comes on each year, we’re reminded why this hardy vegetable became so popular in the first place.

Kale is the quintessential winter vegetable, able to withstand cold temperatures better than just about any other crop. Stroll through any local garden or farm on a freezing day and you’ll see this hardy green thriving in the chill or pushing up under cold frames. Not only is kale able to survive winter weather, it actually becomes sweeter after a frost.

What’s more, these leafy greens are loaded with good nutrition. Rich in vitamin A and vitamin K, kale is also a source of vitamin C, folate, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

So, even though the trend is over, I guess this is why people continue to ask for the recipe for these vegetable chips. Below is the basic Parmesan Garlic Kale Chips recipe, and two new flavour variations: Ginger Basil, and Tahini Lemon. Enjoy!
read more…

Chayote Squash: A New Staple Crop for Northern Gardens?
How to Grow Chayote Squash

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 10, 2020

What is a chayote squash, you ask? Bright green, spiny, pear-shaped chayote squash may just be a new reliable staple crop for BC coastal gardens.

A green pear-shaped spiny chayote squash hangs on the vine. Chayote Squash: A New Staple Crop for Northern Gardens?

Chayote squash

What makes chayote squash so unusual is that it has a mild taste like a summer squash and the texture of a cucumber, but is able to withstand cool fall temperatures. In maritime south coast British Columbia, chayote squash is hardy on the vine until early November.
read more…

Cooking with Chayote Squash
Sautéed Chayote Squash

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
October 10, 2020

You may have noticed chayote squash appearing at local markets. This unusual bright green, pear-shaped squash has long been cultivated in Mexico and Latin America, and is now making its way to northern grocery stores.

Three bright green spiny pear-shaped chayote squash on a cutting board. Sauteed Chayote Squash Recipe.

Chayote squash


read more…