Thursday, June 28, 2007

A garden!

It was not all knitting and kilts this past weekend. There was also food and gardening. I have a bit of a problem. I really like food. A lot. And, in the last several years, I have become more and more into trying to eat food that is seasonal and local, when at all possible (this has led to some serious issues in the meat-eating department; can you believe that it is almost impossible to find California-raise free-range meat in a California grocery store?!). So, every Saturday morning, someone from the family hits the local farmer's market. The girls are a big part of this, and have an amazing amount of fun picking things out (this week, it was purple and green dragon beans; I don't know that we'll get those again). I am completely convinced that this is a large part of why they are willing to try most things at least once (that and my favorite kitchen mantra: I am not a short-order cook. I am making one dinner, and if that doesn't work for you, you know where the fruit bowl is.). They are at the point where they know most of the growers who come to the market, and they're recognized all over.

This is not a problem. My problem is that I'd really like to be the sort of person who actually grows some sort of food object. We have fruit trees, but I have these idealized visions of canning my own tomato sauce, from my own tomatoes (this is not completely fantasy; I have canned tomato sauce, I just had to buy the tomatoes, which can get expensive in bulk). This vision has been fueled in the past couple of weeks by reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's a great book to read and I highly recommend it, even though I spent a considerable amount of time while reading it thinking that not everyone keeps an Appalacian farm in their back pocket for the day when they decide to eat locally (I have a real thing about good food choices being priced beyond the reach of most middle-class Americans, let alone folks who are living below that wage line). Nor does everyone have jobs with flexible enough hours that they can spend a significant portion of daylight outside. However, I do think that it's a good thing to grow something now and then, and I thought the kids might like it, too. Never mind that while I can cook up a storm, I have one of the brownest thumbs around (I am a big fan of gardens with native plants in them, because they require so little effort!). However, I took the girls to the plant stand at the farmer's market and let them have at it. Tess chose little bitty marble-sized tomatoes, and yard-long beans, and butternut squash. Kivrin chose soybeans and cucumbers and pumpkins. I chose some roma tomatoes and some heirlooms, herbs, and more pumpkins. And then we tilled and planted:
The girls learned how to get the plants out of the containers and into the ground.
And we ended up with a garden!
Lucky for my brown thumb, DH is an engineer, and a hydrogeologist at that, so he set up drip lines for the whole thing. These plants will not perish due to lack of water.

So, now if I can just find a nice chair to put down there, I can sit near my garden and knit of an evening, waiting for those tomatoes to pull themselves together and grow. If I could only decide whether to do an extra basket-weave repeat on Hanami...


Tracy said...

Hello! I've just discovered your blog and am really enjoying reading it. Keep it up!

I understand the need to grow some of your own food. When I moved to the Boston area (from dry, dusty Texas), my first task was to establish a garden where plants wouldn't shrivel up within minutes of being planted. These days my focus is on berries--strawberries and raspberries, no luck yet with the blueberries. There is nothing as sweet as a strawberry (or tomato or string bean or zucchini or...) from your own garden!

Fiberjoy said...

Coming your way through Tracy's blog.

There is a popular partnership in this area (Willamette Valley, OR) between urban dwellers and family farms. The customer pays a set monthly fee, through the growing season, and each week the farmer delivers produce that is currently growing on the farm. You could check at the farmer's market if there's anyone doing something similar. One local farmer was close to loosing the farm that'd been in his family over a 100 years when he started doing this about 6 years ago. Now he has all the customers he can handle and is doing very well. He loves it since he's able to interact directly with the consumer, grow what he wants without canneries interfering, and farm as natural as he possibly can.