Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Plant Your Ingredients!

It may be the beginning of April, but there's precious little outside that looks like spring here in the East. The sky seems to be perpetually gray - with or without showers - and the only things that smell like renewal are the potted plants we all received for Passover or Easter that are screaming to be let outdoors just like the rest of us.

So, if spring has forgotten my little corner of NJ, I'm going to force its hand onto my blissful acre. And I'm going to do it by planting my ingredients. You know: The Veg & Stuff I need to keep my dinners humming.

You can see (look left) that I have plenty of varieties to choose from, but I decided to keep it simple - about 10 or so foods - that are staples in my pantry or will enhance my pantry in the months to come. 

Yes, I'm taking a gamble that we haven't seen the last frost but desperate times call for desperate measures even if the USDA says my average last frost is between May 11-May 20. And that's more than a month away!!! Though, to be honest, I've chosen hearty items for the first planting. 

Carrots and chard and lettuce and turnips and beets and onions: These are the things I can 'safely' plant around April 15. Tomatoes and zucchini and radishes and herbs will have to wait for warmer weather or, more realistically, for the seedlings to appear at the Co-op. 

But whether you start from seed or teeny plants, put some dirt in a container and grow some food! With about a $10 outlay and a little effort - aka remembering to water - you can forgo the lines at the farm or market, grow back your investment and sustain yourself for, well, a loooooong time.

I'll give you the top 10 vegetables, herbs and fruits I want in my garden this year:

Veg: Tomatoes, Lettuce, Chard, Onions, Beets, Radishes, Beans, Fennel, Turnips and Corn. (#11, Cucumbers #12, Zucchini for their blossoms #13, Pum... nah, I can't stop at 10!)

Herbs: Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Sage, Chives, Basil, Thai Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Cilantro and (despite being a crazy infiltrator) Mint.

Fruit: Apples, Peaches, Cherries, Bananas, Pineapples, Coconuts, Plums, Lemons, Limes and Figs. Yeah, none of that's gonna happen. Not this year anyway. But we may try to establish Blueberry bushes...Grape vines?

So if the fence keeps our roving neighbors - 

- out of the garden pen, it won't be long before I can pickle MY onions for Martinis and for sandwiches. And drizzle thinly-sliced raw beets and fennel with herb-infused olive oil for salads and eat a whole dinner of just tomatoes and corn. There's always room at my table; you coming? 

This year, what are you planting to eat? Lemme know in the comments!

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