I love fall - its my favorite season.
Sure, I like to extend the life of my lovely summer gardens as long as possible; but, when we get that first cold morning each fall, I rush to the local nursery to start sourcing my winter plantings. I am drawn to the colors and hardy look of cool season plants. Over the years, I have experimented with what grows best in the fall and into the winter and pansies always win the contest. I have been working on layering in herbs and vegetables to my planters. In the planter on my back deck (pictured above), I have pansies mixed with peppermint swiss chard and lemon thyme. I have already plucked sprigs of thyme for a recipe and taken a few stalks of my swiss chard to put in a pasta dish. The more you plant the more you can use it without every ruining your beautiful display!
In my winter boxed garden, I have planted mixed greens, kale, more swiss chard and radishes. I was looking through a great cookbook the other day called "Sheet Pan Suppers" and tried a simple recipe of roasted radishes with brown butter. Trust me, you need to try it. I am also gearing up to plant garlic and cover the rest of my beds (once the frost hits) with clover which will help aerate and replenish nitrogen into the soil. I have a pretty great compost bin in my back yard that my husband built, which has decreased my trash considerably over the years. It is easier than you could imagine and eliminates all the guilt of throwing food away. Mine has a lid so I can put small amounts of animal products in it as well. In the fall we take the rich dark material of finished compost and put it around our gardens, concentrating on our fruits and veggies. It's amazing how much of a difference this makes in the quality and quantity of produce we get as a result.
Yes, I love fall. And I love the invitation of combining the beautiful and the practical. Find a local nursery and see what they have to offer - what is better than looking at your pretty flowers while you pick your produce for the evening's meal?
Kimberly Simpson, a native of New Jersey, graduate of Wheaton College and resident of Nashville. Married and mother of three children. Lover of the ocean, gardens, yoga, cooking and travel.