With nearly nine weeks of growing season left this year, mid-August is the perfect time to add another vegetable crop to your garden. Consider adding goosefoot.
Goosefoot is the common name for the genus Chenopodium. Members of this family include spinach, beets and Swiss chard. The leaves of these vegetables are thought to resemble a goose’s foot, hence the name. Although these aren’t the most popular vegetables, they are nutritional powerhouses. They’re an excellent source of vitamins A, K and C as well as folate, iron and calcium. In addition to being low in calories, they provide an abundance of anti-oxidants and dietary fiber.
Spinach is the original superfood. Spinach grows quickly in well-drained, fertile soils. You can have a harvestable crop in as few as 21 days. Spinach is particularly well-suited for growing in containers. Rachel and I plant three containers at one-week intervals. This gives us enough spinach to last through Thanksgiving.
Each packet of seeds that you plant means more money that stays in your pocket. In the grocery store, one small bundle of organic spinach costs more than two or three packets of seeds. Those few packets of seeds can provide dozens of servings when harvested in succession.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that is commonly used in Mediterranean cooking. The glossy, bright green leaves can be boiled, steamed or roasted. Try preparing creamed Swiss chard instead of creamed spinach. It makes an excellent side dish with steak or roasted meats. The mildly bitter stalks can be cooked separately, similar to asparagus. They even taste great raw with dips.
Most people think of beets as those pickled, red vegetables that come in a can. They have so much more to offer. Beets are a two-for-one bargain. Not only do you get flavorful roots, which are naturally sweet, you also get great-tasting leafy greens. Beet greens can be eaten raw in salads, braised, stir-fried or steamed.
Boiling is the easiest way to cook fresh beetroots. They’re done when they pierce easily with a knife. You should be able to rub the skin off with your fingers.
Here’s Rachel’s favorite beetroot recipe. Cut off the tops. Toss in olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Wrap in foil and roast until tender. Roasting enhances the natural sweetness. Peel, slice and add goat cheese. Drizzle with truffle oil and serve.
Plant beet seeds one-inch deep and space three to four inches apart. If grown in containers, the pots must be at least 12 inches deep.
Beets can be eaten at any stage of development. The first thinnings go well in salads or wraps. Baby beets (up to one inch in diameter) can be cooked with their stems. Most varieties mature in 60 days. Harvest any remaining roots before the ground freezes completely and store in a cool, dry place.
The growing season isn’t over yet. Try something new. Be sure to get the most from your garden.
Rachel and Ivan Minnis are avid gardeners. They live in Leavenworth. For more information, visit The Minnis Rose Garden on Facebook. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org