Winter Salad Tomatoes

I have the hardest time ripping up tomato plants out of my garden at the end of Missouri's growing season. Tomato plants are perennials in warmer climates so part of me wants to keep the plants growing. I do remove all the green tomatoes and place them in a brown bag with an apple to ripen. It may take several weeks but eventually the tomatoes do turn color.

Although they don't have the flavor of summer-ripened tomatoes, they taste better than most picked too early to ship to groceries. Because they are a little tart, I like to eat my bag-ripened tomatoes in a salad with the sweetness of sliced avocados.


Wild Strawberry Greens, Too

Deer eating my strawberry plants suggested I was missing another source of salad greens.

Sure enough, wild strawberries are edible and their young leaves make a nice addition to a spring salad.

My patch of wild strawberries has expanded on its own over the years.  It's a perfect spot to cut young wild strawberry leaves because it's not exposed to any chemicals.


Wild Grape Leaf Greens

When I think of grape leaves, I think of Greek dishes using grape leaves as wraps.

Never occurred to me that I could also add grape leaves to a spring salad!

Cut the younger, less tough leaves. Wash; dry on paper towels or dish towels. Tear into small pieces and add to any basic salad to add texture and flavor. If you use chemicals in your garden, don't eat these.

Since I don't use chemicals in mine, my plants are safe to use. Yummy!


Always Plant Radishes

There's a good reason why gardeners make good cooks and vice versa. Having fresh produce is one of the secrets to a good meal, and one of the must haves in any spring garden is radishes.

These red tuberous vegetables are almost impossible not to grow. They row quickly, and add such a dash of color and peppery flavor to any salad or special dish, even if they are not included in the recipe

The whole radish is edible; use green tops in salads or steamed as a side dish, and if they happen to flower before you can pick them, the flowers are pretty garnish and edible, too!

Do you grow radishes in your garden?


Pansies Salad Garnish

Pansies are more than just something pretty to enjoy in a pot.

Late winter, when grocery store tomatoes have little flavor, be creative with salad garnish. Miniature or regular pansies, high in vitamin C, are not only beautiful but delicious.

After picking, wash thoroughly with a vegetable wash to remove any chemicals. Pat dry gently with a clean dish towel.

If you can, use only pansies you've raised yourself so you know the flowers haven't been treated with chemicals. In most growing zones, pansies are perennials and should come back every year with the proper growing conditions.