Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gambling Garden

Kale, cabbage and broccoli under cover
 Never in my adult life have I gambled with money.  No lottery tickets, casinos or memories left in Las Vegas.  Blame it on my perpetual negativity regarding personal luck or simple appreciation for statistical probability.  Never-the-less, I play my cards every gardening season when I plant 2 months before our last frost date in an effort to get fresh food in our kitchen as soon as possible.

We had no snow pack this winter and temperatures near the 90s in mid-March, which ruined our maple syrup crop.  That was just too much of a teaser not to move things up even further, raising the stakes.  To give you an idea, it's tradition in our region of the country to wait until Memorial Day before stepping foot in the garden.  I sowed our root veggies like carrots, radish, parsnip, rutabaga, and beets directly and transplanted brassica starts during this unusually warm late winter.

I've been very wrong before, like last season when a mid-May frost killed all of our tender tomato seedlings.  Or when I put bean seeds in too early and they don't germinate.  But this year, our gamble has paid a handsome return already.  We've harvested all of the main heads from the broccoli crop and the garlic scapes.  The kale is coming in from the garden in quantities sufficient to justify blanching and freezing for winter.  We've even had some beets.
Parsnip up-front, carrots at the back

The carrot bed is full and tall enough that I won't need to weed it again until harvest.  Parsnip are coming on strong since clearing away the companion radishes.

I've a new appreciation for the humble radish.  There is nothing more reliable, care-free or faster growing than a spicy radish.  My previous efforts to slice them for salads did not go over well at dinner until I discovered how delicious they are grated (cheese grater) in a slaw.  We eat slaw in lieu of a lettuce salad, which my infant would choke on and is dependent on finicky lettuce plants that need to be continually reseeded since they bolt if you stare too hard at them.  Carrot, parsnip, beets, radish, and I'm sure any dry crunchy edible (kolrhabi but not cucumber) will make a wonderful salad after grating and adding a dressing like seasoned mayonnaise.  If available, we throw in some chopped napa cabbage for bulk, fresh broccoli and a few garlic scapes.  My 18 month old ate this.

Slaw fixings
 I'm sure there will be disappointment and total failures this season for one crop or another, but for now I'm smiling at our good fortune.  Diversification is not just for retirement portfolios and it certainly takes some risk out of gambling, that is.
3 ft tall garlic



  1. nice posting.. thanks for sharing..

  2. Thanks for reading! This time of year, there is so much to write about but so little leisure in which to finish a post. I'm glad you're out there.