Kitchen Garden

My Vegetable Life

Dandelion Greens
Dandelion Greens

LAKE MACBRIDE— For the first time in a few days, the concrete driveway was dry when the sun came up this morning. Temperatures are in the mid-30s presently, with a forecast of snow and/or rain, and a high of 43 degrees today. No planting in the garden for now.

I failed to notice the dandelion greens while shooting the photo of the culvert at the end of our driveway. They are at a stage ready for salads and cooking. The wreck that was the contractor ditch work last fall yielded something positive, at least in a culinary way. When the rain abates, I’ll repair the ditch damage, but today will be harvesting the greens. There is a yellow squash from the grocery store in the kitchen, so maybe a side dish of squash sauteed in olive oil, with onions and dandelion greens. Mmm.

My work at the CSA earns me a share of the vegetable harvest, so we should have enough vegetables to use fresh once the shares start coming in. Likewise, my relationships with other growers, combined with our home garden should yield enough to put up some items for winter. I have been avoiding this planning of the garden for too long.

Garden Seedlings
Garden Seedlings

Immersion in the local food producing culture means my focus in the home garden can be on a smaller number of vegetables. Items like kohlrabi, cabbage, potatoes, sweet corn and fresh tomatoes can be outsourced to others who will provide them in abundance as part of the normal process. My space can be used for items that more closely integrate into our garden kitchen, which serves two purposes, cooking fresh and local ingredients, and putting up vegetables as specialty items for off-season.

In practical terms, this means an expanded herb garden, more leafy greens, different kinds of tomatoes (the CSA will provide heirloom and Roma), and more onions, turnips, broccoli, bell peppers, cucumbers and squash. I will also plant some different kinds of hot peppers. The intention is to use all of this fresh, with some of the spinach leaves frozen whole, and any excess either given away or sold at a farmers market.

On my canning repertory is: vegetarian soup stock (using turnip greens, and the green parts of leeks if I have them), various tomato products (diced, juice, sauce), an annual garden ends salsa (sweet and savory types), sauerkraut, pickled hot peppers, apples (sauce, butter, juice), and some other items. Notably absent is pickles, and I have not found a recipe we like. Whatever I grow in my garden plots will also support the canning effort.

Under overcast skies, there are greens to harvest, and much more planning to get done before spring bursts on the scene— which should be soon (we hope).