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Every year I find myself subconsciously competing with my CSA farmer… and I must admit I always lose. He always has tomatoes and peppers sooner, his lettuce and cabbage heads up better than mine, in short his thumb is just plain greener. And this year I’ve decided to be alright with that, I’ve decided to grow all the other things I like to eat that I never get from my CSA. Now this idea may seem elementary, but to me it’s a revelation.
For those of you who are not hip to CSA membership here’s a quick overview: A farmer near you grows a diverse yet practical variety of veggies, usually on a small amount of acreage (1-5 acres). You join the CSA (community supported agriculture) and pay for a box of veggies a week. It’s kind of a subscription to fresh local food. Usually $15-$40 a week paid in advance or in two or three payments. The idea is that by paying in advance you give the farmers the money they need to get off to a good start. In return you not only get the freshest veggies possible, you also get to"know your grower” which is a rare thing these days. For a more detailed explanation of CSA here is what Wikipedia has to say.
So this year I will grow some unusual greens: Double Purple Orach, Purslane, Miners Lettuce, Italienischer and Regal Spinach—most of which I have no idea what they will taste like.
The same goes for onions and garlic, in my house we eat so much of these it’s a surprise our friends can stand our breath. In addition I plan to grow pickling cucumbers, some specialty squashes like flying saucer and portofino. I also acquired a few giant pumpkin seeds from a winning giant pumpkin (800+ lbs) and I can’t wait to see what comes of that! Herbs are still on the plan this year, dill (for the pickles), cilantro, basil and parsley, and thyme. Shelling peas will be a new addition to my garden and so will the beautiful scarlet runner beans I picked up at a seed swap.
Also in the plan this year are berries of the straw, blue and rasp varieties. The blueberries will be the only new item on the menu and even though I just put them in the ground yesterday… my mouth waters already.
My garden plan for this year started out as a supplement to my CSA, giving me the veggies I would not see in my weekly box. It quickly became more about exploring new kinds of vegetables. And while I realize that my garden this year will barely scratch the surface of the vast realm of vegetable variety… I’ve got to start somewhere… and my garden seems like the right place.
What’s in your garden this year?