My Kitchen Garden: Fall Lunch

“In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.” - Aldo Leopold

It wasn’t June when my garden matched Aldo’s snapshot above, but November. That’s Phoenix for you. Abundant sunshine through the fall and winter — and no big nighttime freezes, yet. Believe it or not, while the much of the country faces snow, my little kitchen garden is at its peak. My goal is to get at least one great meal from my garden, to feed to my wife and my son, every day.

Pretty awesome that I can make good on that that in November.

Let me brew some coffee first, and we’ll take a tour.

Right now, there’s a little bit of everything, ready to harvest for — green only gets so green. Here are some radishes and dandelion greens, lemon verbena, tuscan kale, horseradish and so much more reaching up for some sunlight. It’s a priority for them to move towards the sunlight as soon as its up. If I can spend most mornings doing the same, right here in the garden, I’m a happy man.

Everything that grows best this time of year is exactly what you need this season. In the winter, it’s dark, bitter greens and a solid round winter citrus — both unrivaled sources of nutrients and vitamin-C for shorter days and less sunlight, not to mention those nasty seasonal colds.

Again, not just for some fresh and tasty meals, I thought that if I could just get even a meal a day from my garden then I would be immediately healthier.

There are many good reasons to garden.

What do I really want? I ask myself. Fresh fruits and vegetables for my family.

I’m plodding around the garden a bit this morning, tending to the plants, pushed around some soil with my hands, trying not to disturb the little bugs and critters that make a good home here as well, with some of the same goals as my own; some good meals, often as possible. I’m not worried about them — they’re keeping things in check — and they could get their fill and still never scratch the surface. In a way I’m jealous. They get every meal from this garden.

To tell you the truth, my biggest predator is Arturo. My boy. He’s growing fast.

Meet Arturo.

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I was first inspired to grow this garden for my family while taking a trip to Europe, where nearly everyone we met, and in each home we were invited into, had what I’d begin to describe as a kitchen garden. Whether it was the size of a windowsill for easy-to-pick herbs or an entire backyards worth, everyone seemed to have something to string together the seasons get nourishment from.

I remember thinking, Oh my God, no one really has this in America.

This me forth on an insatiable path and considerable learning curve through several gardening books and the advice of peers in my local community.

For instance, I have this moringa tree growing in my yard — a thin, unassuming tree with pale green leaves that didn’t look the part of being beyond superfood as some call it. Here’s what Modern Farmer says: “Ounce for ounce, the leaves contain three times the iron of spinach, four times the calcium of milk, and more protein than sardines.” — which I was learning about one moment, and the next? I had located a grower in Phoenix. The tree was in my backyard by the afternoon.

Paul Chek, one of my heroes, of the CHEK Institute in California, a kinesiology expert with programs dedicated to physical fitness and nutritional well-being, says that the healthiest people on Earth put their bare feet in the soil of their gardens.

The largest effect gardening has had on my life is waking up and walking in my gardens, sometimes with my shoes off. I drink a smoothie. Often the smoothie has moringa leaves, if not many other things from the garden, in it.

It’s a peaceful thing. I get clarity. And then I’m amazed by how much time I get to spend outside.

I picked a few handfuls of greens from the garden. I felt like make a salad, so I walked a few yards, cookie sheet filled with greens, from my garden to the kitchen.

GardeningAlex Leiphart