By Kristin Hamaker
Herbs that is, or a few easy-to-grow vegetables. Like lettuces and radishes, or laid-back perennials like chives and rhubarb. It’s that time of the year, at least in the upper Midwest. Stubborn patches of dirty snow still cling to areas of the garden, but they are kindly receding. See the dried-up, drab remnants of leaves and stems — a positive green will soon take their place.
I talk so much about cooking and eating, but I have equal adoration for growing. Like the practice of cooking, gardening is as humbling and rewarding an adventure. My yard: hardly an area of full-sun, especially with our one backyard maple tree increasing its canopy over the garden each year. Yet I still tuck in peppers and tomatoes and melon plants with giddy optimism. Maybe a single melon will grow, hardly a pepper; those are the sun-lovers. But so much does transpire: peas, herbs, berries, and beans.
If you don’t grow your own food, I nudge you to start now. Start small and playfully and modestly, with a few of your favorite herbs, in the ground or in pots, or indoors in a bright windowsill. Maybe some lettuce leaves, my favorite being the short cut-and-come-again style, alongside a few radishes. That’s all. These are all relatively simple and forgiving plants to grow. You’ll be impressed by their freshness and flavor, and you’ll be inclined to eat them: precisely the point.
Get personalized updates in your inbox on what to plant and when in your area from The Old Farmer’s Almanac online. A rather nifty tool for those new to seasonal gardening, or those, like me, who may enjoy a bit of garden affirmation.
Seed Savers Exchange, is my absolute favorite company for sourcing garden seeds; they sell only heirloom seeds. You can order online and find their packets at local food co-ops, Eggplant Urban Farm Supply (1771 Selby just east of Fairview).
If you haven’t a patch of green (or sill or stoop on which to put a few pots), explore some community gardens for a rented patch of your own. This is a real benefit to beginner gardeners since you’ll tap into the community wisdom on how and what to grow. Our West End Community Garden can be reached via the West 7th/Fort Road Federation at 651-298-5599.
No gardening for you, you say? Support a local grower by subscribing to a local CSA farm, where you’ll receive a share of seasonal produce on a scheduled basis. Mississippi Market Co-op is one local access point: 651- 690-0507.
Kristin is a chef, meal planner, and the founder of Goosefoot Kitchen. She teaches, writes on, and advocates for the good life in and around the kitchen and at the table.