|Root, Root, Root for the Home Grown|
I cannot believe I’ve harvested beautiful rutabagas on April 25 and May 9, but I must, because we ate four in a medley of roasted root vegetables late last month and will eat another five this weekend.
Rutabagas, commonly slandered by grocery stores that call them "yellow turnips," are one of my favorite root crops—either as boiled and mashed with some butter or cream (that recipe is my cardiologist’s nightmare) or tossed with a little olive oil and seasonings and roasted with other root vegetables—potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, and garlic, for example—and this is the Year of Root Vegetables for the Grow It Eat It program, isn’t it?
An early-spring harvest of rutabagas, of course, isn’t the “norm.” Something’s not quite right. That something is, well, me. Mark up my early harvest of this root crop to “gardener error.” I didn’t plant the rutabaga seeds last July or August, when I should have. I eventually planted them on September 19, much too late for them to sprout, grow, and mature in time for our Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts. Our mouthwatering mashed rutabaga then was courtesy of our local Giant Food supermarket and Canadian vegetable growers.
Ignoring my immature rutabagas, I left them in the garden through the 2012-13 winter, when temperatures dipped to about 10°F several nights. The Helenor Hybrid plants, from Johnny’s Seeds, survived and resumed growing with the warmer days in March. I dug four in April and another five this week, when the plants had bolted and in full yellow flower and planning to go to seed, not into our oven.
But into the oven they will go.
Moral of this story is that sometimes gardening problems resolve themselves in unexpected ways. I never thought I’d eat my fall crop of rutabagas in April and May, but I’m not complaining. In fact, my mouth is watering.