Phyllis Both color for BNR

Phyllis Both

“Care less for the harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.” — Kent Nerburn

Sometimes I think harvesting and preparing food to preserve for the winter is the hardest part of growing vegetables. Over the weekend the leeks, beets, squash, cabbage, kale, basil, sweet potatoes, remaining tomatoes, Swiss chard, parsley and a lonesome cucumber were harvested.

My sweet potatoes were a big disappointment this year. I usually plant them in almost pure sand but needed to rotate them to another area. I planted them in raised beds with very rich soil. Instead of a nice root crop, I got miles of vines and potatoes that had stringy roots wrapped around each other. Out of 10 plants, I got five potatoes I can use. What a waste of a 100-square-foot garden.

I always plant basil from seed in June and this produces a large crop of basil to freeze and make pesto. I also make pesto from parsley that I sow from seed. My kale was great this year but was not used as much as I would have liked so some was frozen. I found a recipe for kale pesto made the same way as other pestos. I freeze pesto in one-cup containers. When I need a quick meal, I defrost a cup of pesto, add a cup or two of cream or half-and-half, and add that to cooked pasta to make a yummy meal.

To make pesto, use one cup of finely chopped basil, parsley or kale. Add a half-cup of chopped nuts. Pine nuts, pecans, almonds, or walnuts work well. Add ¾ cup of olive oil and one cup of parmesan or Romano cheese. Freeze or refrigerate.

Every year, people get discouraged with some part of the gardening experience. Keep track of what was great and not so great. A lot has to do with location and weather. We had a very wet, cool spring. Many of my plant roots rotted, even in raised beds. I had success with corn, butternut squash, beets, all leafy crops, and most root crops. I really cannot complain about hardly any tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and beans. My Master Gardeners were very generous about providing me with their extra produce.

My Brussels sprouts were planted from seed this year in June. This is a first for me and the sprouts are forming and becoming a good size. I probably will not harvest them until sometime in November. They can stand some cold weather and are safe from cabbageworms. I am harvesting flowers. All summer, I left my flowers in their beds, but I am not cutting them for indoors. The frost is making me appreciate them more and brighten up these dull days. Enjoy your flowers before they are gone.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.