27 July 2010

From Garden to Table

There's something I've noticed the last couple of summers - there is poor coordination/planning between what's ripe in the garden and what we are eating for dinner. There's nothing better than picking something from the garden and immediately cooking it. For us - and maybe for a lot of people - that's easier said than done. Every vegetable has it's own timeline, which makes it "feast or famine" with a lot of them.

Salad greens were the easiest plants to work with. Once our lettuce and spinach matured, we were able to continuously harvest it from December through April. We could have started earlier if I had planted it sooner.

Unless you plant the same crop a few weeks apart, some veggies tend to be harvested en masse - like onions and potatoes. You can leave them in the garden and pull up what you need, but at some point you will need to harvest the entire crop. Luckily, these two veggies, as well as other root crops, have long shelf lives.

More tender vegetables are what I have the most trouble getting the most from - tomatoes, squash, corn and beans. Either we don't get enough of these at any one time to use - like squash or corn, or we get too many and they get overripe on the plant like beans.

I don't feel like too much of a failure this summer. We had neighbors give us a lot of early squash they started in their greenhouse. When our tomatoes succumbed to disease, we got fruit and more plants form other neighbors. And we spent May and June digging (and eating) potatoes.

I've learned a little more this year and with better commitment and knowledge of what's ripe in the garden, I think we can eat more garden-to-table meals in the future.

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