Shades of Green and Orange in the Vegetable Garden

comments (0) April 25th, 2011

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This acorn squash looks good enough to eat.
Photo by ccharmon under the Creative Commons License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

This acorn squash looks good enough to eat.

Photo by ccharmon under the Creative Commons License 2.0.

My mother was a stickler for dark green and yellow (now called orange) vegetables at dinner time. There was always something green or orange on the plate. There are studies touting the benefits of these green and orange vegetables [SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine] in helping provide better health and longer life.

How much stronger are these benefits if the vegetables come from your organic garden? Think about where there is space to grow these vegetables. You may already be growing some of them. The squashes and pumpkins take up lots of room, and this may be the tipping point to your expanding the garden or growing vegetables in your organic flower garden.

According to the MyPyramid website, the dark green and orange vegetables include:

Dark green vegetables:

  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • collard greens
  • dark green leafy lettuce
  • kale
  • mesclun
  • mustard greens
  • romaine lettuce
  • spinach
  • turnip greens
  • watercress

Orange vegetables:

  • acorn squash
  • butternut squash
  • carrots
  • hubbard squash
  • pumpkin
  • sweet potatoes

There are other green vegetables such as savory, arugula, chicory, collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, and Swiss chard. These green leafy vegetables are often associated with a bitter or hot, spicy taste. These greens can be great additions in moderation to salads or soups. Some greens are perennial. Some grow well in a hoop house or greenhouse. In milder climates, some greens grow almost year-round.

Some winter squashes are "good keepers" if you have the right conditions to offer them, that is cool, dry, and a temperature of 55-60ºF. If you want to either store or freeze them, first let the them cure for 3 weeks. Cooked and pureed squashes and pumpkin can be frozen to use later in soups, stews, and baking. Sweet potatoes that have been cooked until partially soft and then sliced and frozen in plastic bags can be used in recipes that call for cooked, fresh sweet potatoes. You may want to reheat them after thawing to bring them to the temperature called for in the recipe. The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center says you can also bake the sweet potatoes and freeze them wrapped in aluminum foil:

Choose small to medium, well-cured potatoes. Scrub them and grease surface with fat. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees F and bake until done. Cool. Wrap individually in foil; then store together in freezer bag or freezer paper at 0 degrees F. Leave in foil to thaw and reheat in oven.

Think all shades of green and orange when you decide which vegetables to grow, and include a squash or pumpkin vine in a sunny location.

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