Saturday, March 31, 2007

A French Fry Garden

I have to admit, I didn't even look into whether cocoa beans would grow in Maryland. Maybe a Real Mom would have, after my son's adorable request for a cookie garden. I didn't even think about growing peanuts for peanut-butter cookies. Or sugar cane, for sugar cookies. What I did was go along another fundamental axis of his acceptable food space and plant potatoes. For french fries. We now have a french fry garden.

We now have the following growing in our yard, in addition to the 'taters: peas, spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, beets, carrots, parsnips, asparagus, mint, rosemary, parsley, sage and a bit of garlic leftover from 2 seasons ago but still finding a way to grow. I'm officially ready for the apocalyse.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Warm and Bright Son

This weekend, the right of passage my 9-year-old son had been long fearing was upon him. Our tiny tortoise-shell kitty, 18 years old, was finally giving up. The divine Ms. M could no longer walk, and wasn't interested in eating or drinking late Saturday night. She would sit on our laps and very faintly purr a bit before returning to her comfort zone on the lowest shelf of the linen closet. I lined it with her favorite towels. My son told her "I love you. You are the best pet ever. Hopefully you'll pull through this, but probably not." He has always been a fascinating combination of optimist and realist. He is also generally calm and easy-going. (Those last two traits must have skipped at least one generation.)

She was still there the next morning looking up at me, lounging on her little shelf. Only her eyes were still, and she was gone. She looked peaceful and comfortable. We buried her in the backyard with a favorite toy (an aluminum foil ball, for batting), a soft pink baby blanket, and a love note from the boy.

A bit afterward, he offered this suggestion to his Dad and I: "Let's grow a cookie garden this year!" Thinking he was surely joking, we both responded with sarcastic laughs and "yeah, right"s. To which he retorted with a hint of impatience, "if we can't grow a cookie garden, can we at least plant chocolate chips?"

Saturday, March 3, 2007

How 'bout the Greenbelt Victory Garden?

Well, today is the first weekend day in weeks when it hasn't been bitter cold here in Greenbelt, Maryland. So what better time to break out the seed collection, rake the last of Fall's leaves
from the raised beds, and get started with the early spring garden? It's also a great time to plan for the entire growing season ahead. What shall we plant? Where shall we plant it?

I did a bit of Web surfing while planning for the Woodland Gardens 2007 season, and
happened upon Liz' Pocket Farm blog. What a lovely and inspiring discovery! Her recent post about Victory Gardens got me thinking. During World Wars I and II the US government encouraged everyone to grow as much of their own food as possible via family and community "Victory Gardens." And the public responded enthusiastically. In 1943, more than half the US
population grew some fraction of their own food right in their own backyards or in neighborhood plots.

Now there is a move to bring back this concept. But for 2007, the goal is to combat global warming. The produce you consume has to be transported from someplace, on average 1500 miles away. So every bit you grow on your own turf helps reduce your personal impact on the planet. A good goal. Plus it's fun, tasty and satisfying to consume your own Earthly delights.
Well another blogger named Szarka left a comment on Liz's blog about hoping to share her produce with a local chef who could then create a "half-mile menu", on which all offerings were prepared using ingredients that were grown within a half a mile.

So I have gotten motivated now. I suggested that our local restaurant, the New Deal Cafe, come up with a "half-mile menu" in which they serve up soups, salads and what-not based as much as possible on the fruits, vegetables and herbs grown by Greenbelt's very own Victory Gardeners. There are many of us here in our little town. All that remains is linking up the avid gardeners with the New Deal Cafe chef! I did manage to get the president of the New Deal Cafe board interested. I'll keep this blog updated on our progress as the garden season progresses.

Coming back down to Earth, today we planted peas, three kinds of lettuce, and Kale.
There is plenty of rosemary to be had, and the last of the 2006 carrots and parsnips came out
of the ground this afteroon. Yippee, and yum!