Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter greens

A word about local food. I love shopping at farmers markets and my food co-op just down the street, eating foods grown or made as close to home as possible. We're fortunate to be able to do so. But, even better, when we can, is growing some of our own edibles right outside our front and back doors.

Last fall, I planted three tiny beds with some salad greens: kale, romaine and oakleaf lettuces, cilantro, arugula, spinach and a few other varieties. Thanks to our winter rains, the beds have produced enough for a salad a day for a household of two. And, even the hard freezes we've had this winter have not damaged the plants.

Let me stress that these are just a few square feet worth of greens, and they require practically no tending through the winter. There have been almost no problem bugs (possibly one residual benefit of the prolonged drought ahead of the rains). The front yard bed gets good winter sun, and the plants have already produced yellow flowering seedheads about 3 feet high that are attracting many bees. The backyard beds are shaded part of the day, so the plants have grown more slowly, but that has been good for us, as they grow just fast enough for snipping leaves each day without going to seed as quickly.

My favorite salad is composed of the mix of greens with cut apples (Pink Ladies are especially good), shredded carrots, toasted sunflower seeds and our favorite salad dressing: SASS garlic-sesame. Now, it's true, the apples, carrots and sunflower seeds all must come quite a distance to land in our food co-op. We've gone only part of the way toward being part of the solution. But, it is rewarding to use the small amount of garden space we have to produce at least some of our own herbs and vegetables most of the year in our temperate climate. When the world's problems seem so large, even just a few minutes spent in the garden help to restore my faith in the power of creation.

photo by makingpeace

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