That crazy mess of green is what happens when you leave a vegetable garden untended but well watered. At first I was kind of overwhelmed by the disorder, but when I looked closer I realized that ignoring my garden for a month meant I could now enjoy the satisfaction of some pretty hefty harvests.
My first harvest is pictured below: three baseball-sized turnips and their green tops, a handful of peas and two eggs. (Yes, Peggy finally started laying again at the end of February, perhaps to welcome me home.) We cooked up the turnips with some carrots from our produce delivery box using a delicious recipe for braised root vegetables from How To Cook Everything. The peas were delicious raw, pods and all. Fresh-picked peas are so much sweeter and crisper than the ones you buy at the store. There's really no comparison.
Subsequent trips to the garden provided us with a delicious salad mix of oak leaf lettuce, arugula and cilantro--which Dakota and my mom both raved about--and this lovely bunch of chard. The chard went into one of my favorite simple winter recipes, Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta. Yum.
A few days later, I filled up my basket again with more peas, a big pile of peppers and some spinach, all of which were consumed with some grilled bratwurst.
All this harvesting has been extremely satisfying. I think I'm having my best vegetable garden season ever. There are so many more crops yet to pick--beets, fennel, fava beans--and the greens and peas have shown no sign of slowing down. Dakota and I can count on at least another month's worth of home-grown vegetables in our meals.
Who knew that the best thing I could do for my winter garden was abandon it?