Photo: Steve Bender

Many of you probably think Grumpy hunts and devours live animals. Well, he used to, until his wife convinced him to eat a more healthy diet. So here is Grumpy's new freshly planted salad garden. Not only will its leaves supply lots of Vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but unlike animals they will not struggle while being harvested.

The plants have really responded to warm days, cool nights, organic fertilizer, and Grumpy's classic rendition of "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" so far. Here's what I planted (all transplants from the garden center):

1. 'Winterbor' kale -- I love the blue-green, crinkly leaves plus the fact that it will grow all winter and just get sweeter with frost.

em'Winterbor' kale. Photo: Steve Bender/em

2. 'Red Giant' mustard -- Super easy to grow, colorful reddish-purple leaves, grows all winter and gets sweeter with frost just like kale.

em'Red Giant' mustard. Photo: Steve Bender/em

3. Red-leaf radicchio -- First try at growing this, but it doing great. Looks like burgundy leaf lettuce with broad, rounded leaves. Don't know if it will last the winter, but do know that its peppery leaves get milder as the weather cools.

emRed-leaf radicchio. Photo: Steve Bender/em

4. 'Outrageous' romaine lettuce -- Crunchy romaine lettuce is a favorite of mine and this kind has pretty burgundy-red leaves. It won't last the winter, but I'll be harvesting soon.

Because my front yard garden is on the north side of my house, these leafy veggies don't get a whole lot of direct sun in fall and winter. But that's cool -- unlike fruiting veggies, leafy ones tolerate light shade. I'll harvest by picking the outside leaves and letting new ones on the inside replace them.

One big advantage of planting veggies in fall is you have fewer insect problems. Should any foolhardy beetles or caterpillars munch on my greens, I'll use a safe-for-humans, natural insecticide called spinosad to dispatch them. You can buy this at garden centers. I like spinosad (a by-product of rum fermentation) better than Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), because it controls more than just caterpillars and works a lot longer.

Of course, manly men cannot live on leaves alone. Drop by Grumpy's cave any weekend and he'll serve you up some real food.

emIllustration: C. Ware/em

Don't worry. It's local and free-range.