Sometimes Autumn frosts barely dip below zero, usually they graze the tops of tender plants blackening only a few leaves. Frosts like these happen repetedly over the course of at least a few weeks before one final hard frost puts an end to any hope that one might be able to ripen that last tomato in the garden.
Two nights ago was our first frost and last night we had another one. Rather than teasing us with little nips, Mother Nature just let the temperature plunge, blackening the leaves of annuals and perennials alike, reducing others to mush, squelching any hope of a reprive and reminding us that we do live in Northern Canada.
When frosts are minus 4C (29F) and lower the chances of most of my garden plants being able to survive even when covered are slim. At this time of year I keep an eye on the weather forecast so I can prepare.
This time I picked every snow pea, every bean and every zucchini out of the garden no matter what size they were. It's better to have a bowl of miniscute beans, peas and zucchini rather than a bowl of nothing.
Even though the potato tops are blackenned the potatoes are fine under the soil even if the top inch or so of soil freezes, ditto for the carrots and beets.
Of course the kale, collard greens, mustard and even the swiss chard and beet tops are still alive, crunchy and fresh.
The bolted lettuce I was hopping to collect seed from was a goner, instead I ate it for supper. Once lettuce has been touched by frost it tastes bitter. The plants salad days may be over but you can still eat it.
Bolted Lettuce Stir Fry
I usually make this recipe with radicchio but this time I used bolted lettuce. You can also use radish leaves.
-I melted a heaped tabelspoon and a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan.
-Slice a heaping mound of the lettuce leaves cross ways into roughly 1/2 inch pieces to make 4 cups or more.
-When the butter has melted and is sizzling add the lettuce to the pan.
-Stir fry it until it's soft.
-Pile cooked leaves on a plate and sprinkled them with a tsp of lemon juice.