By Barbara Ganley, June 3, 2011 - 8:55am
I'm just back from a visit with friends in Los Angeles. They are fabulous, caring cooks (one worked in some of the great kitchens in New York and Seattle before she went to grad school) who scour the incredible farmers' markets of Venice and Santa Monica for the freshest organic ingredients straight from the farmers. Over the years they have established real relationships with their favorite farmers who never steer them wrong as to what is at its peak.
And so, of course, they took us to the markets (there's a market every day of the week!), and I was instantly envious of my friends--for what they have access to on a daily basis, and even more, of these farmers--to be picking such gorgeous artichokes and peaches and strawberries at all much less in May! To have citrus and olive trees! Almost everything imaginable that comes from a garden or orchard was there. Fresh, organic, perfect. I have never eaten such tasty cultivated strawberries anywhere. Incredible.
In spite of this bounty, my friends still wish they could grow their own food--they'd love to run out to the garden to snip a bit of mint or basil, pluck the zucchini flowers just in time to sauté, race the just-picked corn to the kettle, but they live on a tiny city lot with a narrow, short border of bougenvilia and jasmine and a patio. They rent the place. So they get creative: they tuck chard and beans here and there between the perennial flowers, and they grow herbs in barrels.
They pair cucmbers with basil and lemon thyme.
They grow tomatoes and zucchini in their own pots.
They have the pleasure of tending to a bit of their own harvest, even though they can buy all these herbs and vegetables straight from the growers. They plan to add more pots now that they see how easy it is. Indeed, they could grow Eating Well's full list of easy-to-grow vegetables--they all would all work well in pots and feed the soul as well as the belly.
We can have the pleasure of growing a bit of our own food, have a lovely patio or rooftop or balcony filled with green. And still hang out on the weekends at our favorite farmers' market!