I was thinking the other day how disconnected Robert and I were from the seasons in terms of our eating habits before we came to Elm Street and began seriously gardening. We blithely ate asparagus any time of the year and fussed about how the winter tomatoes in the grocery store didn’t have any taste.
Our awareness of the seasons of gardening – and our eating habits - are a totally different picture these days and I rarely find myself buying out of season vegetables. Farmers markets are the best way to go if we don’t have it in our garden and it is a rare occasion when I do have to get our veggies from a conventional store.
Eating locally and seasonally in this fashion gives me an even greater connection to our food, the seasons and the garden. And, of course, fresh vegetables taste much better than those that have suffered the indignities of the transit time involved in getting to a store and then to your plate. Then there is the issue of adhering to organic methods as well as growing plants from heirloom seeds and not varieties that are bred for their shipping quality and appearance. (Check out Janisse Ray’s The Seed Underground.)
Right now with the fall/winter garden firmly in place, we are embracing the delicate lettuces and the hearty greens of this time of the year. I am also smug with the freezer’s contents of roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce as well as pole beans and field peas. Not the same as summer fresh maybe, but better than store bought.
The aspect of the garden has taken on a new refined appearance after the hurly burly of the late summer garden with tomatoes and cucumbers rambling out of their rows and the okra plants reaching for the sky. Winter crops are just not as rambunctious as summer ones and rows stay neater and more contained. So we have a pleasant change of scenery and a garden with a much tidier appearance.
Farm Manager Jim has Elm Street Gardens as full as it has ever been of good winter crops. So we are enjoying the broccoli, greens and carrots that we’ve been missing - and given up hankering for the okra we enjoyed so much this now-past summer. As our faithful Farm Box customers know, you just can’t have everything all the time!