There’s a reason Bob Wills’ song “That’s What I Like About the South” includes turnip greens, black eyed peas, candied yams, buttered beans, and corn bread. The basis for each of those foods grows reliably and well here. The cool-weather vegetable in that list, turnip greens, is almost a fool-proof crop. However, there are plenty of crops that are less reliable producers in Southern gardens.
In years like this one, when my broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages all are slow to head up, I remind myself that such Northern vegetables can’t be expected to do consistently well in the South. Some years the garden produces big, full heads of all of those by Thanksgiving. This year, the heads on most of those plants aren’t even close to what I consider a good size. If we get a hard freeze any time soon, I probably will be bringing in a lot of ridiculously small vegetables.
Many of the carrots aren’t full sized yet, either, but those will continue to grow slowly underground through all kinds of weather. It may be March before I pull the last one, but eventually those all will be brought into the kitchen.
Luckily, this year I planted plenty of kale and collard greens and a few bok choy. Greens don’t seem to be delayed the way the heading vegetables are by an early hard freeze that’s followed by weeks of warmer weather.
Even better, we haven’t had a hard enough freeze to turn the winter radishes to mush yet, either, so we still are enjoying those, thinly sliced then salted.
To celebrate the South and its vegetables here on the last day of the year: