Whenever I make a post, I tend to walk a line between showing what I am doing and showing you what you might want to do. It’s only fair, right? I hope I can, you know, teach something…if by bad example at the very least.
An oddity of this way of life is that I never (and I do mean never) have produce in the refrigerator. It’s all fresh-picked and home-grown with the exception of lemons, my one nonlocal shame. The only things that do go into storage now are garlic, onions, shallots and potatoes….and apples. Everything else is readily gotten out of the greenhouses or garden year-round: it’s a great way to be, just grabbing a bowl and walking outside for dinner’s celery and carrots, parsley and green onions. Greens like cabbage, collards, kale, mustards and turnips are available for most of the year. And salad, all other root veg and all manner of herbs are here year-round.
It’s late winter now, burgeoning spring…thanks to the mild winter, spring is appearing terribly early this year, and who cares what the groundhog and the Farmers’ Almanac have to say.
Migratory birds are my first clue that the season has changed. I should say “the migratory birds’ effect on my yard birds,” because the turkey vultures, redwing black birds and even the dang Canada geese are freaking out the chickens who understandably think every bird shadow is a hawk on the wing. The vultures, who fly in family units, haven’t established themselves yet; it takes a bit of time for them to hone in on their territory, though I know they’re around. The redwings though are very keen to plant their flags on some waterway or another, and the melodious male is back in the yard again…even though our frog pond is embarrassingly tiny. The frogs (also out and croaking) don’t agree that it’s tiny, though.
I also know it’s late winter because it’s mid-spring in the greenhouses and we’re in a panic to eat everything. I got a sunburn Saturday (and even took my shirt off, because, really, who can see?) while I was doing work in there. What’s fine for the plants is actually a bit too hot for its human caretaker. It did feel nice, being sweaty…considering the maple sap is still dripping and all.
But it is true: I am in a bit of a panic. The potatoes will soon sprout, the onions already have, and even the softneck garlic is looking a little green. Ir is time to transition. The arugula, mache, mizuna and claytonia (winter’s favorite salad greens) are all madly going to seed and tasting nasty as they do. My seeds are sprouting well in the greenhouse beds, but so are the weeds.
Of course I wish that every last one of you had chicken coops and greenhouses in your yards. But I warn you. Remember that crazy period in summer when you just can’t possibly eat another zucchini, and what are you going to do with all those cucumbers and tomatoes? Get a greenhouse and this will happen to you four times a year…maybe five.
But if you do you’ll never have produce in your fridge and you can suntan in your underwear in March!