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Garden wishes, winter dreams

Posted Feb 23 2010 12:00am
Suddenly, I’m getting emails and Facebook updates from my two CSA farms. They want me to know they have tomato, lettuce, and radish seedlings started in their greenhouses. I know it’s only February, but I’m already daydreaming about local lettuce, so much tastier than the tired, well-traveled stuff at the grocery store.

Around here, winter really tends to overstay its welcome. When I talk on the phone with friends and family south of here, and they tell me their crocuses are coming up, I look out my window and see nothing but ice and mud.

I’ve been consoling myself by contemplating all the scrumptious local food headed our way within a few short months. While the CSAs do a much better job than I ever could hope to, we also have a modest vegetable garden. It’s nice to be able to pick a few greens and tomatoes from your very own yard!

Here’s some of what I want to grow and buy and cook this season
  • More carrots. Last year, I planted one row. They took forever to grow to full size, and then we ate them all within the space of a few days. Lots more carrots!
  • Fewer tomatoes. I went overboard planting tomatoes last season. Then most of the vines succumbed to late blight. This year: one Sungold cherry tomato, one slicing tomato, and that’s it.
  • Fresh eggs from the farm stand. We’re completely hooked on locally produced eggs. Supermarket eggs just seem very pale and sad by comparison.
  • Homemade sauerkraut. Delicious and good for the digestion, due to its friendly micro-organisms. (More about fermented vegetables in a later post.) I’ve experimented with making sauerkraut in the past; this summer I’m thinking about getting a stoneware crock so I can do it right.
  • Crisp homemade pickles. Love ‘em!
  • Broccoli rabe. I’ve eyed this for years, but haven’t felt inspired to buy any. Now I have a couple of promising recipes, so I'm ready to give it a try.
  • Strawberries. Not a banner year for strawberries last summer -- too cool and wet. I ran out of frozen strawberries early. This year, I’m going to pick like mad.
  • Shell beans. Our farm stand offers bins of locally grown, jewel-like dried beans with fanciful names like Jacob’s cattle beans. Ordinarily, when I need beans, I open a can. But it’s just as easy, and cheaper, to cook a big pot of dried beans, portion them into containers, and stash them in the freezer.
Have I started you dreaming about fresh local produce on this dreary February day? Fear not: spring will be here before we know it!
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