Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The Spring Garden
In celebration of Earth Day and because I had the day off from the bookshop (we're closed Mondays and Tuesdays), I spent yesterday in the glorious sunshine, barefoot and bent over, planting my spring vegetable garden. I had chipped away over the last week on the unpleasant, back breaking part, edging my 25 x 45 foot plot with the square spade. My nonlinear efforts added a couple of square feet to this garden patch, but that just gives me more room to plant.
Yesterday was a perfect seed planting morning. A light breeze kept the gnats at bay and the soil resembled chocolate cake crumbs, which I read somewhere is the perfect loamy texture to inaugurate the garden season. I managed to get in my spinach, climbing peas, lettuce, radishes and Italian dandelions.
Dandelions! Yes, dandelions, because Dan and I like a lot of braised veggies with garlic and oil and this is some fancy Italian chicory that is a new resident in the garden bed that we are giving a chance. I already had some returning chives, Oriental poppies (for beauty and the bees; from a mixed wildflower seed packet from four years ago that keeps on showing up), cilantro, lemon balm, thyme and oregano. No spears up in the asparagus bed yet, but they'll follow the sun soon and then we'll get to gorging ourselves on them, roasted with garlic and herbs.
If you fall in love with your garden each year too, then here's a book I have recommended and placed in customers hands over and over again. I buy it every time I see it when I'm out book hunting, and it never fails to find a good home. I have one copy for sale at Old Saratoga Books at present, but you could also probably find a copy at your local library too if you want to "test drive" it first.
This book gem is:
Cooking from the Garden, by Rosalind Creasy (San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club 1988). A gorgeous, photograph-packed book for home gardeners and cooks to drool over. Creasy thoroughly details theme gardens: Heirloom, Native American, Baked Beans, Cajun, Asian, French, Mexican, German, etc. and offers planting advice, recipes, interviews with gardeners, and a wealth of new ways to enjoy vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The emphasis is on vegetables and herbs that taste and look good, and you'll find plenty of new varieties to try.
One year I had a rainbow garden inspired by Creasy's book with yellow and orange tomatoes, purple beans, radishes in various pastels hues, and of course, the easiest vegetable anyone can grow, Rainbow Chard. Purple and yellow beans are also easiest to pick, as they don't blend in so well with the foliage.
Here's to a bountiful garden season to all, even if you only have a few pots of basil on the porch or windowsill!