Saturday, March 3, 2012

Yard Becomes Produce Department

I don't know that I will ever figure out exactly what it would take to sustain my vegetable needs independent of the grocery store, but when you start to look at your yard as the produce department you begin to think a little more creatively. What do they say about poverty and the mother of invention? Not that I consider myself poor, but I consider our lifestyle choices unsustainable and thus creating poverty.  Do I need to buy more yellow onions from the store- no. I have tons of green onions that would do. I think I've figured out how to sustain my onion requirements. Maybe next year I will be able to sustain my tomato needs- salsa, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, fresh maters. I think I could do it. Perhaps I just need to figure out 1 veggie per year. It would also require better record keeping, which is one of the motivations behind this blog. Timing is the other thing. While I can predict the length of daylight I can by no means predict the weather, which is becoming predictably unpredictable. Crazy storms this winter. Thunder and tornadoes in winter. Gardening isn't for pessimists.

I threw together this yummy little winter salad this week from young kale, grated overwintered carrots, turnips (or was it a rutabaga?) and green onions. I gently sauteed it in a little olive oil (not local, but I wish) and a splash of red wine vinegar. Not only was it pretty, healthy and completely fresh it also got rave reviews from the 7yr old.

The first daffodil, a cyclamen-type, was the first to bloom on February 27th. I don't remember one blooming that early before. There are crocus finishing up as well. The crocus, while not native, offer an early food source for the honeybees (also not native). Here is the winning daffodil under the Blue Spruce tree.

Another new crocus type I tried this year was Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor'. It has opposite colors from the Goldilocks variety and opened after Goldi. The bees have seemed to prefer the yellow crocus over these. Wonder why. 

I started some seedlings early this winter when I started to think that we were never going to have a winter. My psychic abilities may have paid off. Today I planted 20 Tronchuda (leafing) cabbages in about 4 square feet of space in the garden. I haven't grown these before this year so I have no idea what kind of space they will require, but I'm all over maximizing use of space. As these are a leafing type I can harvest bottom leaves as they are ready which will free up some space as the plants grow. How much food can you get in a given area depends on how creatively you want to garden. The square foot and biointensive methods or French method of gardening maximizes space while limiting weeds and work. I'm game for that.

I also started hardening off some plants WAY earlier than ever. In these trays I have parsley, leeks, purple broccoli, white hollyhocks, perennial cornflowers, American agave, cupid's dart and purple coneflowers. Last night we had frost so I had them under the front porch and covered them with a sheet, but I don't see a reason why they can't be outside already. 

Miner's Lettuce in the garden (returns on its own)
Sweet, succulent and crunchy.

The Alder and Hazelnut are in bloom (catkins).

When I can't be outside I turn to my basement greenhouse. The cuttings I threw in a dish tub last fall are doing very well. More plants for free!
Plectranthus (silver), Geranium (green, foreground) and I can't remember the name of the purple plant.

Left- Monarda citriodora and Right- Golden Feverfew seedlings. 

I start most seedlings in mushroom and tofu tubs. I like the aluminum cake pans to bottom water the tiny seedlings. Watering over the top can bury the seed, increase fungal problems and drown seedlings. 

Tomato seedlings. 

Time to do more planning. Where am I going to plant all of the things I want to grow? Will a day come when I run out of space? I try not to think about that day. I challenge you to consider adding more of one veg, try canning this year or adding to your garden varieties to decrease your food carbon footprint this year. Happy Victory Gardening!

No comments: