We broke ground on our first vegetable garden plot last night. I use “we” in a loose sense, just me pointing my finger and Big D with a shovel and a mission. That man works harder than anyone I have ever met. He knows I’ve wanted to try vegetable gardening for years. Plenty of flowers around here, but the vegetables and herbs were all in containers on the deck. There were the years of volunteer tomatillos growing by the front door, but that is another story. I like to think that the White House garden subconsciously inspired us to make this the spring to try it ourselves.
Most years we buy a share at the wonderful local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, which gives us a bountiful basket of vegetables every week from mid-May to mid-October. There are so many smart aspects of buying fresh and local; one beauty of “buying all that they grow” came in the form of vegetables and herbs both familiar and unfamiliar. One vegetable last year had us searching online for a name — the long, green curlicues turned out to be garlic scapes, delicious, with a flavor of both garlic and onions. I put it in everything while we had it; and I know I would not have been likely to pick it up from a market on my own.
If you are interested in reading a fascinating account of a family’s adventure in eating completely local for one year, check out Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved the book’s mix of themes: gardening, recipes, motherhood and family dynamics, juxtaposed with a journalistic investigation of the effects of food production on the environment and economy. Oh, and it’s funny. I like that too.
I have no delusions that our small plot of earth will yield much this first year, as it is a new adventure. We are giving it a casual try, with my characteristic fear of commitment. It may just be a bunny buffet. We have both read the hysterical book The $64 Tomato by William Alexander, about the perils, trials and tribulations of Obsessive Gardening Disorder. We plan to keep each tomato under $10 each. We’ll also plan to go to the farmers market as usual.
Now, perennial gardening? That is where my time has been happily spent for years…