The fall crops have started to produce as the ECOS garden transitions from fall into winter. As of November 2, we have ten low tunnels full of cold weather crops and seven mini tunnels full of produce.  If all goes as planned we should add 500 pounds to the 6,000 pounds of high quality produce we have distributed to various outlets in Madison County. This is more than double the outcome of last year’s crops. The low tunnels hold turnips, lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, and carrots and the turnips were the first crop to be harvested. All the work has been done by our seven regular volunteers and our part-time assistant gardener.

Here are Ollie and Janie Jordan digging up our bumper crop of turnips:     IMG_1298


IMG_0829 started from seedlings

IMG_1019 securing the low tunnels

Our volunteers have increased their knowledge of season extension techniques, food preservation, preparing the ground for the winter, and planning for next year’s garden. We have learned from trial and error as well as from the guidance of our master gardeners/teachers.  We have come a long way from February and look forward to larger yields and and extended garden space in 2016.

The immediate learning project:  what can we do with all these beautiful turnips?? We distributed them to the Salvation Army and the St. Thomas food bank and explored turnip recipes to share.  Here’s a good one for a delicious fall soup:



  • 1 Tblsp olive oil
  • 1 Tblsp butter
  •  2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 cups cubed turnips
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tblsp honey
  • 3/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in butternut squash, turnips, celery, onion and garlic.  Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a large pot over medium heat until simmering.

Transfer the vegetables to the simmering stock and add the bay leaf, honey, pepper, nutmeg, coriander, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Continue simmering until all the vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

We look forward to the rest of the low tunnel crops, which all appear to be thriving, at least for now.