Tennesseetransitions


Season’s Eatings

I remember last spring a young woman I know asked me if my garden really fed Michael and me, or did we just get a “bunch of tomatoes and stuff”? Isn’t it funny how such an innocent question has stayed with me, making me hyper-aware of how I might truthfully answer it? The answer, after really paying attention to it, is “yeah, we do get a bunch of tomatoes and a LOT of ‘stuff’.” I think we’ve managed to eat from our plot every week this year. Some weeks we obviously eat more than others, but most of our meals revolve around what is fresh and what we have a surplus of. Sometimes it’s only a handful of chopped cilantro, and other meals, like tonight’s stir-fry, comes mostly from the garden-everything but the carrots. I kept running out of carrots in late fall each year, so 2014 was the year I was going to make sure I had enough to see me through until spring. So… I grew a ton of them, and then, after harvesting, stored them, along with a ton of beets, all unwashed, in tubs of moist sand’, as my food preservation book instructed me to. This isn’t a great pic but it shows you how promising it all looked the day I stored them away down in the cellar…(the carrots are in the top tub, beets in the bottom one)

Beets and Carrots 6

I think I added too much water to the sand in the carrot tub and they all rotted and turned to orange pulp in no time! Which of course led to the ‘store-bought carrots’ in tonight’s stir fry and yet another lesson learned. My mom always used to say that I seemed to learn everything the hard way, and it’s nice to know that I wouldn’t have disappointed her with this either. Just sayin’… The good news is that the beets remain firm and look as fresh as they did the day I harvested them in September! 

But back to the question at hand: how much DO we eat from our garden? Our soil in our raised beds was the best it’s ever been this year,and it showed in everything we grew, from spring peas right through to the current greens and broccoli…

winter goods

  We patiently waited until today to dig some of our spring-planted parsnips, knowing the soil would be soft and unfrozen after the recent warm spell and last night’s rain. Parsnips are sweeter after they’ve been hit by some hard frosts so we wanted to pick the perfect time to harvest them. They are tremendous, and proved to me just how deep our soils have actually become…

parsnipsWe also still have Yukon Gold potatoes and lots of butternut squash stored with the onions and garlic in the cellar, so tomorrow night’s supper will likely be a big clay cooker filled with rosemary-infused parsnips and squash, a skillet of corn bread made from freshly ground blue corn that I grew and dried two summers ago…

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a side of fresh kale seasoned with some of our homemade red pepper sauce and maybe a slice of the left over Christmas turkey. New Year’s Day we’ll have our traditional Hoppin’ John, made with black- eyed peas and fresh-picked collards, served over rice and seasoned with canned tomatoes and peppers, onions and fresh herbs.

We’re having musician friends over on Sunday, January 4th, to celebrate the old Appalachian tradition of ‘Breaking Up Christmas’, and we’ll continue eating from our garden that night too when we serve crocks of summer-canned bruschetta and salsa to serve on baguettes and with tortilla chips, and home-canned red pepper jelly served over cream cheese with crackers, along with pizzas topped with red, green and banana peppers, fresh-cut broccoli, sliced green onions and even some fresh cut Longkeeper tomatoes that are patiently waiting their turn to appear on the table in 2015! So, yes Virginia, gardens can give all year long if only you believe. Season’s Eatings to  you and yours.

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11 Comments so far
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What a wonderful bunch of “stuff”. I so envy you your growing season and weather in general. Have a wonderful Breaking Up Christmas! And of course a good New Year’s. I’ll keep looking to you for good inspiration in 2015, cos are always an inspiration.

Comment by sarasinart

Oh but it’s cold today and tomorrow, with lows in the 20’s, so everything will.grind.to.a.halt.for.awhile. I even BOUGHT some fresh kale today because it looked so beautiful and was on sale for 99 cents a pound woo hoo! So between cheap greens and gasoline, I’m a happy camper. (gas is hovering just about $2.20 a gallon now!) Happy New Year to you too. When you tire of all that snow, come visit me in Tennessee!

Comment by simpleintn

I would love to come and visit you in the midst of the best part of your summer season and learn more about some of the great stuff you do. Our gas is lower now too and we’ll take any savings we can get! Have a good New Year’s.

Comment by sarasinart

Nancy, the ‘best part’ of my summer season is May through September. That gives you plenty of time to make it here. bwahahaha!

Comment by simpleintn

Those parsnips look amazing.

Comment by Robert Senn

One of them would feed you and Doug. Stop by this afternoon and I’ll give you one Robert!

Comment by simpleintn

Had a work share in a CSA this past year, and in the experience I decided that I love intensive gardening, but only one day per week. The enormity of the job of producing this variety of food was a bit overwhelming. So I think I’ll continue buying/earning my box from the farm, and at home I’ll just grow a bunch of tomatoes and a bit of other stuff.
Hats off to you.

Comment by Rachel Creager Ireland

Rachel hats off to YOU for trying the work share! There are lots of things one can grow that are lower on the work load…brassicas come to mind. I don’t think growing food has to be an all or none proposition at all-I happen to be retired and I happen to love doing it, so it works for me. I think people are intimidated by the enormity of it too. Starting small is really smart Rachel. Good luck on your efforts for next year; keep me posted, ok? Thanks for reading.

Comment by simpleintn

Yes, garlic was one of the foods I planted last year, and was pleased at how low-maintenance it was. So I did put some in again this fall.
When spring comes around, it’s hard not to put something in the ground . . .

Comment by Rachel Creager Ireland

What a great post. Congratulations on growing so much variety. I’m pretty good with garlic and green beans, raspberries and herbs. Otherwise I get a CSA box weekly all year. We did a carrot pull and potato harvest at our CSA. The farmer strongly suggested that we remove as much of the green tops of the carrots as possible before we put them in the storage boxes. Perhaps that would help your carrot preservation.

Comment by Andrea

Good advice Andrea. I’ll cut them shorter next year!

Comment by simpleintn




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