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A gardener's guide for the winter months

Full background of roasted colorful autumn vegetables, above view
Stock Adobe
Full background of roasted colorful autumn vegetables.

Most of us have already put away our gardening tools for the season. But there are still great ways to get fresh, local produce and continue using it throughout the winter season.

Every month, Venice Williams, the executive director of Alice’s Garden, shares tips for our series called Dig In!, which is all about gardening and healthy cooking.

Williams says local farmers in our area have been really important this year. And if you're trying to find root vegetables and greens, William says, then you have to visit the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market, and Turtle Creek Gardens in Delavan, Wisconsin.

"This is the time of year where we really can appreciate the local farmers in our area, who have grown an abundance of vegetables and fruits that we are able to still access when our smaller gardens are done," says Williams.

Another harvest season trend that Williams says is worth giving a try is root cellaring. While many people might think that they need an entire room for root cellaring, Williams says an unfinished area in their basement would suffice.

If you aren't sure how to start off your root cellaring endeavor, Williams recommends reading "Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables" by Mike and Nancy Buble.

"It really is a great way to have local food all year round. All of our ancestors, at some point, either stored in this manner or created root cellars, literally by digging holes in the ground and storing vegetables within the earth," says Williams.

Now that it's getting colder, some of us are looking for comfort food. Williams says soups, for example like potatoes, leeks, and kale soup, are in season. Other popular dishes this time of year include pot pie and casserole.

Williams says during this root season, the perfect way to cook brussels sprouts, beets, and carrots is by roasting them.

"Roasting packs in and keeps the flavor of those vegetables, so we don't lose not just the flavor, but the vitamins and minerals. A lot of times, we overcook our food when we boil on top of the stove," says Williams.

Another read that may add some dynamics to the kitchen this season is "The Potato and Rice Bible by Alex Baker, Sally Mansfield, and Kristen Ingram," says Williams.

"Although it is a potato and rice book, it really incorporates a lot of the harvest right now. So the potato and the rice dishes are paired with those green vegetables, the soups, the casseroles, the desserts, the bread," says Williams. "Looking at the different kinds of bread we can make based on potato, rice bread, and rice cakes. All these wonderful varieties."

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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