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Leafy greens offer fresh options through fall
Gardening enthusiasts gather Wednesday morning at Gardens on Green for a free adult class sponsored by Hall County Master Gardeners and the Hall County School System.

Old-fashioned collard greens

  • 2 bunches of collard greens stemmed and chopped
  • 2 small yellow onions cut in half
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Dash of red pepper
  • Salt to taste

In a large pot, bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil.
Add the vegetable oil, sugar, pepper and onions to the boiling water. Slowly add the collards to the boiling water and bring back to a boil. If needed add more water to cover the greens.
Reduce heat but continue on a low boil.
Cook covered until the greens are tender usually about 45 minutes.
Source: Elizabeth Westbrooks

Stove top cabbage – quick and easy

  • 1 small head of cabbage chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil.
Add onions and saute until tender. Add garlic and stir continuously for 30 to 45 seconds.
Add chopped cabbage and stir continuously until beginning to wilt but still slightly crisp. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
The same recipe can be used with Swiss chard, spinach or kale.
Source: Elizabeth Westbrooks

Fall weather means saying goodbye to the summer fruits and vegetables at the local farmers market but welcomes a new set of contenders to pull from the ground and put on the plate.

While pumpkin spice may be king of fall, leafy greens such as cabbage, collards, kale, lettuce and spinach are packed full of nutrients and offer a variety of cooking options. And retiree and Hall County Master Gardener Danny Askew knows about cultivating vegetables for a healthy diet

Askew led the “Gardening for Healthy Eating” class Wednesday at Gardens on Green, 711 Green St., in Gainesville. It is part of the Hall County Master Gardeners weekly fall adult classes. The Wednesday morning sessions offer advice and instruction for novice and expert gardeners and answers any and all gardening questions.

Having been a Hall County Master Gardener since 1997, Marsha Hopkins enjoys the programs at Gardens on Green and attended the Wednesday class because she heard it Askew was teaching.

“I have a lot of respect for Danny because he is one good gardener,” Hopkins said. “There’s always something to learn.”

A retired obstetrician and gynecologist, Askew said his session focused on the leafy green vegetables.

“(They) have so much fiber, they have vitamins, they have minerals in them,” he said. “No fat, zero fat. Leafy green vegetables don’t have fat in them, so you’re ahead of the game with your health concerns right off the bat.”

Askew explained by choosing fresh vegetables, consumers avoid the preservatives added to canned goods to maintain a proper shelf life.

“The fresh stuff is better for you,” he said. “It’s more nutritious and better for your long-term health. Steaming them is better.”

However, the retired doctor noted the way leafy greens are prepared for a meal determines how healthy the finished product is. He said he is aware a “little of this and a little of that” is usually added to the vegetables by Southern home cooks. And overcooking any vegetable can destroy its nutritional value, he said.

But before vegetables get onto the plate, they must first get into the ground.

Depending on a gardener’s interest, whether it’s from seeds or starter plants, the end of September or early October is the latest time to plant, Askew advised.

With the exception of onions, late September or early October will provide the necessary time for plants to mature before the cold of winter arrives.

Families should think about what vegetable or fruit they will eat and how much of it to determine the amount to plant. Once that is known, gardeners may think of the where and how.

The 10-year master gardener believes raised beds are the best option for home gardens. He said they are easy to work and accessible from both sides.

Askew cautions when building a raised bed, gardeners must use ground-contact treated wood to help the beds last longer. Most wood at large chains are only treated for air contact.

Gardeners also must be aware of the elements.

“September and October are usually some of our dryer months, so you’ve got to have an available water source if you’re going to be growing,” Askew said.

Overall, Askew recommends following an acronym he teaches the Hall County Schools second-graders who come to Gardens on Green on field trips, P.L.A.N.T.S.

“Plants need a place, plants need light, plants need air, plants need nutrients, it gets thirsty, and it needs good soil,” he said. “PLANTS — Now you know all you need to know to grow things, just with that one acronym.”

For more information about the Hall County Master Gardeners, visit, or to register for the next class email