Archive for March, 2010

Vegetable Gardening for Smarties (not Dummies)

Yes, yes, I know: “for dummies” is just a convenient code that means “for non-experts, in non-technical language,” but if I live to be a million I’ll never understand what’s dumb about wanting that.

part of our Hudson Valley vegetable garden

In Kitchen and Garden has always been In Garden for Kitchen as much as anything else, so there’s a lot about growing vegetables tucked in among the posts about flowers and shrubs, preserves and pastries and architecture and wild mushrooms and coyotes and

where was I?

Giving pointers on food gardening, I think. Here are a few posts that may prove helpful as we teeter on the brink of the 2010 growing season:

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

It must be spring – after a string of posts from the greenhouses, our friend Eric over at Yale is moving outdoors again. But he’s still in highlight-the-underdog mode. Today’s pet plant is pretty much the Rodney Dangerfield of conifers.

Granted, Pinus rigida isn’t usually much to look at, but it is singularly resilient, and perhaps fittingly, it does approach genuine beauty just where it’s needed most: at the salty, wind-scoured seaside and on rocky slopes, where it can survive in crumbs of soil too scant for anything else.

One of Eric’s young pitch pines.“This one is only 5 years old but looking good,” he says.

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Eek of the Week – the Real Food Challenge

Having just used “threat or menace,” albeit jokingly, I don’t suppose I can say the same about the “Real Food Challenge” (reported here) that’s currently sucking up so much internet ink. In fact, it’s probably unwise to give the thing any more PR by giving it an Eek.

But I can’t resist, because it’s such a classic example of the all-knowing self-righteous preaching that helps the processed food industry keep its stranglehold on the American diet.

Some are ok, some aren't. Can you guess which of these foods you're supposed to make yourself, or never heat - or not eat at all?

Left to right: Back row – Butter, smoked Spanish paprika, olive oil, hard cider, whole wheat flour, center – local cheese: Barat, from Sprout Creek Farm, and Shaker Blue, from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, (home made cherry preserves, here for another reason), cocoa, thick cut rolled oats.

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Seed Starting – Threat or Menace? (not really)

So, fellow food gardeners, have you started your celeriac yet? Surely the artichokes, leeks and onions are growing strongly by now, and you have the flats all set so as soon as you finish reading this you can rush off to plant the broccoli, kohlrabi and spring cabbage.

Uh huh. Maybe someday, but if you’re anything like me your supply of well-lit warm space won’t support that many plants, even if your supply of ambition is adequate to the task.

I’m lucky; we have a small greenhouse. But finding room in it for the tomatoes, peppers, basil and other necessities that will be soon be needing light is going to be hard enough without asking the cauliflower to move over

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After The Snow

At least I hope it’s after the snow. Today has been warm right through and sounding like rain, every gutter running, every eve dripping as the compacted layers slowly sink.

After the 1st and 2nd snowfalls, before the 3rd and 4th. That’s a 12 foot ladder

Up until a bit more than a week ago, I was in a pro-snow mood. Seemed like everyone else in the Eastern half of the country was having piles and piles of white beauty, while we had ugly patches of bare brown ground and nothing to ski on.

Be careful what you wish for.

When all is finally revealed, this viburnum will be about half as tall as it used to be. Those three broken leaders were due for pruning but I’d have preferred to choose where to cut without quite so much help.

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