The spring sure is taking its sweet time this year in Vermont. The birds are back, the light is lifting, yet the cold still sinks its teeth into the soil. I'm not one to be kept out of my garden, however, and I want to serve salads that I've grown as soon as possible. I have no greenhouse, but I do have inexpensive, make-it-myself tunnels thanks to my husband's wonderful ingenuity. Using electrical conduit and heavy-weight row covers, we have constructed our own little system of season extenders. I have two up right now in the garden, one warming the soil for the earliest transplants, and one that has sheltered last year's artichokes all winter in hopes that I've fooled them into growing year round up here (we'll see--I believe in experimenting and I know that means some things just won't work out).
I'd love to hear about your season extension...read full post »
March in Vermont this year has meant snow piling up and drifting, drifting and piling up. As Kate points out in yesterday's post, we've had one warm day the entire month thus far. But as she also says, the thick white blanket doesn't reveal what's happening beneath the skin of earth and tree, bush and branch. Sap runs in fits and bursts, buds stir in their pre-swelling-almost-out-of-dormancy state. Kate's maple syrup pan steams happily away on her woodstove. Both of our grow-lights shelter and warm new seedlings. My cold storage room and freezer stock dwindles-- I'm completely out of some jams and frozen pestos; the chutneys and pickles, the mostardo and mulled fruits are thinning out. That means I can soon stop eating out of jars and find dinner in the garden.
While I wait for things to come to life, I'll check the fruit trees for branches to...read full post »
In the depths of winter, I'll succumb to temptation and buy a small burgundy head of chioggia radicchio at our local natural foods cooperative. I'm shocked at the price of a green that in my experience couldn't be easier to grow. Perhaps people think that because of its high price it must be challenging to grow. Or perhaps they don't think they like its slightly bitter note when served raw. Perhaps they've never tasted how delicious it is when picked young and grilled or roasted or sautéed. It asks to be paired with the dark sweetness of balsamic vinegar, and is a revelation grilled and wrapped around fresh mozzarella. What's more, radicchio adds a lovely bit of color to whatever dish you make.
When I visit Italy, I am wowed by the varieties of radicchio in the...read full post »
It has something to do with the light, the quality of it, the height of the sun at midday, the edging toward the equinox, the headiness of spring-just-around-the-corner. Painters like Kate can finally work deep into the afternoon. Cyclists start tuning up their bicycles. Gardeners get itchy. They order their seeds; they prowl the local garden centers, perusing the new varieties and bringing home those lovely seed packets that will stare at them for a couple of months.
But me? I did that ages ago. When the seed catalogs fill my snow-covered mailbox in early January, I am so hungry for green that I spend a week planning the gardens. I order seeds, berry bushes, fruit and nut trees--whatever I need for the coming year. And so now? In March? Do I stare at all those seeds? Not a chance.
I can't help myself. I turn from all that beautiful...read full post »