Monday, February 29, 2016

Winter Gardening Success: Eating seasonally is no sacrifice






Back in the Fall, I showed you our new winter gardening system, a series of four low tunnels. In these new winter beds we planted leaf lettuce, spinach, spicy greens, bok choi, kale, onions, carrots, turnips, cilantro, and parsley. On this last day of February, everything is still alive, having survived several nights near -10 Fahrenheit. Our harvest totals more than 20 pounds of food collected during the coldest months of the year.

There is nothing quite like eating a salad you picked from the garden in mid-February. Combined with our strategy of storing foods from the summer and fall, and eggs from our chickens, we've managed to put some homegrown produce on our plates nearly every single day. Here's a taste of what we've been eating, month by month:

November

One of my goals this year was to serve a Thanksgiving dinner featuring exclusively homegrown vegetables. Our menu consisted of:

Fresh salad with candied walnuts, stilton, apples, carrots and turnips
Fresh baked baguette with herbed compound butter
Potato-leek gratin
Cider-glazed duck
Cubed Butternut squash with maple and sage
Garlic mashed sweet potato
Brussels Sprouts with American filbert, shallot and bacon
Apple green chile cheddar pie

We washed all this goodness down with homebrewed apple cider.


December

Ah December, month of holiday craziness. We were able to bring a giant salad and deviled homegrown eggs to my grandmother's for Christmas dinner, and we enjoyed latkes made from our own potatoes at Chanukah. We also started drinking the hard cider we made back in the Fall; giving us a special treat to bring to holiday gatherings. 


January

Come January we were still regularly enjoying smoothies made from our own frozen strawberries and blackberries, chiles rellenos with homegrown green chiles, salads, and tomato sauce we canned in August.

February

Now in February, we've run out of tomato sauce (but we still have some salsa and tomato juice), and the squash and potatoes are gone, but we still have some fruit in the freezer and plenty of green chile. We've got carrots and turnips in the fridge, and until this week our low tunnels were cranking out the greens. They survived two nights below -10, but our lettuce supply is largely depleted, so we are down to arugula and spinach for at least the next few weeks. Now that the days are longer, our chickens have started laying like crazy, and we are welcoming the return of backyard eggs to our diet.

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Success

With Spring just three weeks away, this will be the first winter we've weathered with such a steady supply of homegrown food all the way through. Let me tell you, it feels amazing.

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