Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The only cure for Winter is Spring

With all of this snow still everywhere, we're stuck inside trying to imagine digging our shovels into thawed earth. Theoretically, I like the seasons, keeping pace with nature, being at the mercy of pressure systems and ocean currents, yada yada yada, but right about now I'm wishing I had a big, combustion engine-having machine to blow all this wet white stuff off of my garden beds and make my handy little garden diagram here into a living thing. Alas, I wait, and really it isn't so bad. The long winter months put me in such a slump that it's all I can do to get my little seed bins out and start planning. And now's the time, folks.
We've got a nice situation this year with the new Community Grower's Alliance started up with PHS, and they're giving us a bunch of seedlings. How many is hard to say, and that is hard to work with, quite frankly, but Matt and I are making do and just gonna go ahead and start some cool weather seeds inside this week. Typically we do our brassicas (broccoli, collards, kale, cauliflower) about mid-late February so we can plant them out around April 1st. This year we're not growing broccoli or cauliflower, for several reasons. For starters, we are no good at growing broccoli or cauliflower. Every year I plant broccoli, and every year it either bolts or produces tiny little heads that are hardly worth the effort of picking (they are delicious, though... so tender). Furthermore, they take up tons of space, and since space is highly limited on our little 1/2 acre operation, broccoli gets the boot. I'll buy it the farmer's market and be glad to support another farmer.
Deep down I'm conflicted about this, since I desire both to grow my own food supply and sell vegetables at market, but must choose between the two. Homesteading and self-sufficiency are exciting, wonderful things for me to dream of, but I also get immense satisfaction from harvesting multiple bunches of collard greens, washing them in cold water, packing them for market, and displaying them on a table. The times I've worked harvest days on large farms have been the most exciting for me- shining up radishes and packing them neatly in a box, imagining them on the shelf at the grocery store and then in someone's home. Each individual radish has been in my hands, even each leaf of lettuce has been carefully chosen and gently handled.
To be honest, true self-sufficiency cannot be achieved on 1/2 acre of land, so the choice is not all that hard for me to make. I might be able to supply all of our onions for the year on a piece of land that size. So we do what we can. We make compromises, switch it up from year to year to keep it exciting, and try to get better at what we do well. This year, that means lots of baby greens for gourmet salads, creamy Adirondak Red potatoes (which will likely never make it to market because I can't help eating them all), and rows and rows of carrots, among many others.

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