Saturday, March 31, 2012

Build your own Concrete Block Raised Beds

This will be my 4th year gardening in raised beds, and the 3rd gardening in my indestructible concrete block beds! There are many benefits to raised bed gardening, including looser, better draining soil, mitigated risk from toxic and lethal chemicals sometimes found in urban soil, and the fact that they're a bit easier to reach because they're higher up. 

Gardening in a concrete block garden offers all of these benefits, with the additional perk that concrete blocks will not deteriorate like wood beds will. Especially if you get untreated wood (which doesn't leach chemicals into the soil like treated wood does), you could be looking at replacing your beds in 5-8 years. 

If you are thinking about concrete raised beds for your backyard, let me share some tips and steps to create your own awesome garden:

Step 1: Select your garden site
This is a first step for any garden. In general, if you can find a spot that gets sun or partial sun, that will offer you the greatest options in what you can plant. Other considerations- level terrain, proximity to a water source, visibility, potential for expansion. I chose the left side of my backyard, which faces South & was wide enough for a substantial garden.

Step 2: Purchase concrete blocks

You can get concrete blocks from major home improvement stores, or smaller hardwares. I purchased 150 concrete blocks for $200 off of craigslist, which included delivery. At Lowes, they're listed for $1/block, so if you can borrow a truck from someone, that's a good bet. I liked that I was re-purposing my blocks though, rather than buying new.

Step 3: Install landscape fabric/ place blocks

This is where you can get a little creative! Beds can be 1 or 2 blocks high, and as long as you have space for. I find that 3-4' wide is a good distance, otherwise it gets hard to reach your plants in the middle, and easy reach is a big benefit of raised bed gardening! I chose sort of an "S" shape initially, to maximize the space I had available.

Step 4: Order compost to fill beds
Many cities and municipalities make their own compost from the yard waste they collect- Ypsilanti Township and City of Ann Arbor are two place by me that sell compost. Another good source are local landscaping companies or farms that have their own compost sales option. Here is a pretty standard formula for calculation:  To cover an area of 100 square feet with 3 inches of mulch: 100 square feet x 8 inches deep x 0.0031 = 2.48 cubic yards needed

Step 5: Fill beds with compost & Plant away!
This is a pretty self-explanatory step- once you get the frame of your beds all laid out and make sure the concrete blocks are level, you can fill in with compost! I always fill mine to the top and level them out with a rake- the soil will settle a little bit so be generous. If you have extra soil, you can fill in the concrete block holes as well, and use that space for planting flower, herbs, whatever you'd like!
Step 6: Expand beds so they eventually take over your yard (optional)
As you can see, I started with one square bed that was 4'x8'. Before I had even put in compost, I expanded it to be the larger, "S" shaped bed. The next season, I added the tail on the bottom of the "S", and this season, I've added the additional section that runs the length of the side yard (pictured on right). If you're going to grow potatoes or carrots, you can just add a second layer of blocks on top of that section (like I've done in the picture on the right). It's so easy to expand and customize that I've gone from 32 square feet to about 200 square feet in just a few short years- whoops! ;-)

Whether you start small or have visions of grandeur right from the start, concrete blocks are an affordable, sustainable choice for your yard or garden!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Shopping small-scale: Grocery shopping with intention

Because I make a concerted effort to buy locally and in season, I make several small trips for groceries each week. I don't mind, and in fact I enjoy the opportunity to buy fresh things every few days. I usually spend between $20-30 per trip, and try to get "ingredients", as my mom would say, so I am ready to make a variety of dishes.
My grocery haul for the day 

When our Downtown Ypsi Farmers' Market starts back up, I'll shop there each week, but in the off-season, I head to the Ann Arbor FM, or like today, the Ypsi Food Co-op. If you have a food co-operative near you, I suggest you check it out.

Co-ops often have competetive pricing to larger box stores, and a great focus on sourcing local products and produce. Their focus on quality, healthy food is inspiring, and their desire to provide local options and source products from local businesses both large and small means I will always be a loyal customer there.

When I head to the co-op for a grocery run, I start by heading straight to the produce section and looking to see what's locally-grown. The fruits and veggies I purchase will form the basis of my meals, so I like to get inspiration in the produce aisle to start. This week I found locally-grown spinach, baby bok choy, basil, a variety of herbs, beets, radishes, arugula, as well as some storage apples- whoa!! I picked out bok choy, which I'll use in soba noodle soup, basil to flavor various dishes, spinach for one of my favorite salads, and Fuji apples which I will bring to work for a snack. 

Over in the Dairy aisle, I'm always greeted with a variety of local and healthy choices of milk, cheese, and yogurt. I always pick up milk from Calder Dairy, and I like to get cheese for an afternoon snack. Eggs, tofu and other refrigerated items are in this aisle as well, and although I get my eggs farm-delivered, the co-op's eggs help to tide me over when I've run out too early.

On the bread rack is a variety of bread products, both local and not- I enjoy the Barry Bagels from Ann Arbor, and today I chose some Scallion and Dill bread from Avalon Bakery in Detroit (it's delicious!).  The bread will be toasted with some jam for breakfasts this week!

The bulk food section at your local food co-op is an inspiring place to go. Beans, rice, cornmeal, flour, granola mixes, nuts, herbs & spices, coffee, and looseleaf teas are just some of the items you'll find there. On this trip, I got some polenta meal to replenish my stocks- polenta is a quick dinner meal, and easy to customize to my liking.

My last stop is the soap aisle, where I fill up our bottle of Dr. Bronners soap, as needed. I'm pretty sure we've had that bottle for 4 years! There is also bulk shampoo & hand soap, so I bring in our soap dispenser to refill those things too. It's a bit cheaper to refill than it is to buy, and saving the use of a few bottles is nice as well.
Where do you do your grocery shopping? Have you found a natural foods store or a Co-op by you that meets your shopping needs?

Holly bushes are planted!

Tonight after work we used the last 1/2 hour of daylight to get those hollies in the ground past the back fence! They're small, but they look nice, and we're excited to see them grow! It's nice to plant and spend that time outdoors, even if it was only for a few minutes today.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Get to it! Tackling those garden projects you've always said you'd do..

Now that's spring we're finally tackling those long-neglected yard projects that have been just waiting for the perfect weather. Like what, you may ask? Among other things, more seed starting, some minor landscaping, and protecting those newly-formed little buds from the upcoming frost!

First on the list- Seed starting! Last weekend I started more basil (globe), as well as my summer peppers (yolo and jalepeno). Over all, all the seedlings are doing great- the onions are now 8 inches tall, cilantro is growing strong, and I've set out all my lettuce, kale, and spinach in the garden. I started all my tomatoes yesterday too.

Also- Backyard landscaping! Over the weekend, my mom and grandmother came up for a visit, and no visit is complete without some kind of plant-related adventure, right? We drove over to Lucas Nursery, located in Superior Township by Canton, MI. Lucas had a ton of amazing perennial shrubs and trees, and this was a good a time as any to find the perfect shrubs to grace our back little strip of yard, that had previously been a weed wasteland until a few weeks ago.

We picked up 3 of combination Blue Prince/Princess Holly plants (shown above). They'll be placed across said wasteland (see pic on left), and will eventually fill in that area and become amazing bits of color & interest, as well as providing some privacy! They can get to be about 10 feet high and 8 feet wide- woah! I'd settled for 4' by 3'. Excited to get this area more cleaned up and more attractive-looking: it's right on the street so it'll be nice to have hardy shrubs that will be less trashy looking than weeds and randomly-strewn flowers.

Lastly- a cold front is coming in! Hurry- save the fruiting trees!! Here in S. E. Michigan, it's supposed to dip down to 25 degrees tonight- quite chilly compared to the 80 degree temps we've been having recently. Many trees have budded out early and are even beginning to flower, including our little cherry trees, our big weeping cherry out front, and the raspberry canes. I grabbed some spare sheets (and pillowcases) to drape over the more susceptible plants- I don't want to loose the potential for all of those delicious black raspberries!

I do think I'm a little bit clever- you'll see that the sheets covering the budding cherry trees have a cherry blossom print. Half coincidental, half intentional. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Favorites

These were my favorite things on this awesome, beautiful Friday!

$1.99 Taco Bar at Dos Hermanos, our local Hispanic Market, for dinner. Freshly made and delicious!

My new desk at the Growing Hope Center, where our organization just moved in to today! 
I'm in a little hobbit-like alcove and it's so cozy.

 Raspberry plants leafing out- It reminds me of the amazing little berries we will soon be enjoying.

What are your Friday Favorites?

Book Review- How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish

I recently purchased How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish from I've been riding my bike to work a lot lately, and I ordered this book to help inspire me and get me on the right track. If you've checked out my blog before, you might know that when I latch onto a new hobby or interest, I like to devour as many books on the subject as possible.

How to Live Well Without Owning a Car was written in 2006 but has a lot of still-current and valid information. I could tell it was written several years ago but all the key info still rings true, if not more true. This book is most beneficial for you if you are contemplating how to transition to a Car-Free lifestyle, or just "Car-Lite" which is what this books calls folks who might be a one car household family, people who car share, or have other alternative car arrangements.

Chris is not advocating that everyone should never use cars. His view seems to be that owning a car (or even two cars) is expensive, both financially and in other ways. The book is laid out in a way that is helpful to guide your journey to car-freeness: several sections in the beginning of the book speak to the true costs of owning a car, the environmentally costs, and one chapter entitled, "Can I Really Live Without a Car?". We also get to hear about Chris's personal car-free journey.The remaining three sections of the book are Getting to Work With out a Car, Non-Work Transportation, and Living Well Without a Car. Each of these in broken down into chapters with real world examples, quotes from now car-free people, and ideas for you to try out. It's very practical, and essentially a step-by-step guide on transitioning to less car use.

If you're hopping on the bike more, riding the bus, or walking and you're wondering if you could make the switch to alternative transportation full-time, I'd recommend that you pick up a copy of this book!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sharing and Trading in the Garden

An aspect of gardening that I really appreciate is the desire to share with others. Sharing tips, sharing tricks, sharing tools, sharing plants. When I began to get more interested in gardening, as an adult, my mom dug up a bunch of starter plants for me to transplant to our front yard- Hostas, Burning Bush, Echinacea, and more. These became the foundation for our garden.

I have shared seed starting knowledge and supplies with my mom, carting down shop lights, pots, and trays for her to start her own seeds this season. I call my granddad, whose family owned a tree nursery for many years, to see what his plans for growing topsy-turvy tomatoes are this year.

The act of sharing these items and tips goes beyond the thankfulness I feel in that moment. It's the stories that are shared while gardening, the mutual knowledge that is gained, the plants that have a chance at new life and propagation elsewhere that means the most.

On our most recent visit, my mom brought with her some leeks- lots of leeks! Wrapped in a plastic bag, like a weird black-market type of trade, they got passed from my car to hers. Upon returning home, it was easy to see that I don't have a need for literally 100-150 leeks.

I put the word out on our city's Transition Town facebook page, and that day, I had at least 5 responses, from people who like to take a few leeks for their own garden! Again, the actual giving of the leeks was nice enough, but the generosity I got in return was unexpected.

My neighbor two doors down traded me leeks for some heirloom spring onions. They're from her partner's family's farm, and now they are here, planted in my garden. It's nice to think that we'll have leeks from the same place, growing at our respective houses, and it was a nice way to start up a conversation about gardening and family.

A friend who is involved in the donation garden at our local college also messaged me- she'll be pick up leeks for The Giving Garden EMU on Saturday, and the students and the community will get to enjoy them!
I conversed with a nice guy from Transition page on facebook, and he stopped by yesterday. I gave him some leeks, and he brought some Wild Chicory and Annise Hissop seeds to share. I'll be researching to learn more about these plants, where to plant them, how to use them.

Not only 
was the sharing I benefited from thoughtful, but these are three new plants I wouldn't not have otherwise discovered. The fact that each plant I've just added to my garden has a story that can be passed on to the next person that I share these things with- I just love that! You don't get into gardening for the sharing- or at least most don't. But the generosity of people who share that value of growing and cultivating things from seeds- sometimes it will surprise you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Transplanting leeks, lettuce, and kale

It's so nice that I couldn't resist transplanting some of my little seedlings today! Planted some peas that will grow along the trellises. My parents and I visited each other in Bowling Green this weekend, and she brought up some leeks from her garden, as well as sugar snap peas and some red onion sets to plant. I set out most of the kale today, 6 plants, as well as l0 speckled lettuce plants. I separated the leeks out and planted them as well- I've never grown them so we'll see how it goes!

I've been planting things in the new bed, since it has the best soil. Next up on the seed starting list: Tomatoes, and direct seeding Carrots! Last week I started peppers, more onions, and globe basil. I ordered the seed potatoes as well, and some asparagus, and those will come in soon- can't believe its time to plant all these things already.

Have you planted anything in your garden yet?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spinach, Carrot & Ginger salad with homemade lemon dressing

This is quite a simple recipe, but it's quite delicious. A great way to make use of that fresh spinach from the farmers' market. The ginger gives it a surprise little zing, and the lemon dressing is light, fresh, and tasty- the perfect compliment. This has been our dinner for the past several nights, and I this continuing to be a trend!

Spinach, Carrot, & Ginger Salad w/ homemade lemon dressing
3 cups Fresh Spinach, chopped
source: Ferris Farms, Ferris MI
1 small piece Ginger-
source: local food co-op
2 medium Carrots-
source: my root cellar
2 tbsp. Dried cranberries-
source: Michigan-grown from local food co-op

1/2 lemon
source: local food co-op
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
source: local food co-op
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
source: local food co-op
1 sprig Oregano
source: grow lights in basement
1 sprig Thyme
source: grow lights in basement

  • Take chopped spinach and add to a large salad bowl
  • Grate ginger and carrots into small, thin slivers- add to bowl 
  • Add cranberries to salad as well
  • In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from the lemon
  • Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, and thyme into the small bowl with the lemon juice
  • Whisk dressing together with fork or a small whisk
  • Top salad with dressing, and make sure to distribute dressing evenly
Serve and Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Favorites

My favorite things today:

Seeing my neighbors get Calder Dairy (a local dairy in S.E. Michigan) products delivered

Enjoying a quick chai tea pick-me-up at one of my favorite local cafes

Breakin' out my birkenstocks!!

Waving to 4 different people I know on my walk down the street on way to the bank. When I got to the back, I talked to the teller about local Girl Scouts for 10 minutes! I love living, working, and playing in my city :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Start eating locally- Join a CSA this spring!

If you're new to this whole "Eat Local" movement, and you're not sure where to start or how to get into local eating, it can be overwhelming! Once you start making more informed choices about what you eat, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and get into an all-or-nothing type of mentality. I am here to say a) don't be so hard on yourself! and b) start somewhere simple!
These friendly folks are the Dyers! They just started a garlic CSA!
CSA Shares (Community Supported Agriculture) are an important part of the Eat Local movement as well as a increasingly popular way to support a local farmer and invest in the food you are eating.

The basic model that CSAs usually follow is that you pay for a subscription or a share of the CSA. This fee is either paid up front in a lump sum, or could be paid in a more flexible arrangement. In exchange for your payment, you get a weekly box of vegetables that are packed up for you and that you pick up at one of several location choices.

There are many new exciting CSA options in addition to this traditional model. In this post, we'll cover the basic "steps" of finding and choosing your CSA!

Things to consider in your CSA search 

Type of CSA- In the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area alone, we have some really interesting CSA options, including Fresh produce, frozen seasonal produce, prepared locally-sourced meals, garlic, home-brewing grains, staple foods, meat, dairy and more! If you're a reader from outside our little zone here,  there are several good resources for finding CSAs near you:
Google "Community Supported Agriculture + my city

Growing Practices- Most farms fall under one of several designations: Conventional growers, Certified Organic growers, or organic in practices/chemical & pesticide free growers. Conventional growers use some level of pesticides, fertilizers, etc., although they could be trying to minimize these types of practices. Certified Organic growers have gone through that certification process and obviously use organic practices when growing their produce. Farms that are organic in practice/bio-dynamic/chemical & pesticide free are most likely conscientious of the benefits of growing food organically, but either cannot or have not chosen to pursue the organic certification. It's good to have a conversation with the growers about their practices, no matter which category they fall into, to make sure you're down with their practices.

Location of Farm/pick-up-
Most CSAs offer several pick-up locations, so even if they are not located in your city, they might very well deliver to your local farmers market. Most times, you'll be responsible for picking up your share each week, so make sure you are choosing a CSA with a share pick-up location you can and will get to.

Size of CSA share- There are typically several share options available; Full Share and Half Share being the most standard. Generally, a Full Share will feed 3-4 people, and a Half Share will feed 1-2 people. There might be other options, so again, it's good to ask! If you're single, or a couple, think about going in together and splitting a Full Share with a friend, family member or neighbor. After all, it is Community supported agriculture :)

Length of season- There can be a lot of variety in the length of season your CSA offers- 18-22 weeks is pretty common, and most CSAs I've seen run May or June through September or October. Some CSAs, depending on what the products for sale are, might run through the Fall and Winter as well, so check it out!

Price- Again, lots of variety in pricing too. Since shares run for a variety of weeks through different seasons, the best way to compare is through price per week. You also want to think about what you can afford to pay,  because as mentioned earlier, you might need to pay the season's fee in one lump sum. When you average the cost out though, CSAs are overall a great value! You can get great quality, locally-grown produce for a very affordable price; some farms will take SNAP/Food Stamps/EBT so if you're receiving those benefits, don't count yourself out!

Keep in Mind:

Ask questions!
  • If you haven't noticed yet, a general theme (one that applies to the entire Buy Local concept) is ASK! If you have a question, ask. If you have a special accommodation, ask. If you aren't sure of the specifications, ask. One of the huge benefits of purchasing a CSA subscription is that you get to build a relationship with the Farm and the farmers that grow your food. Use that relationship to really own the knowledge of where your food comes from, how it's grown, etc.
Do your research
  • You're essentially investing in this farm for the season. I would encourage you to take this seriously, like  other investments you might make. As I say frequently, each time you buy something, you are voting. So make sure the CSA you're "voting" for is the one that is the best fit for you, your family, and your food needs!

Time to play outside!

If you are not outside enjoying the weather today, get out there! New recipe coming later on tonight, it's gonna be a good one!  
The first Crocuses of Spring 2012!!!
First 'Speckles" lettuce, planted in the garden!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Taking advantage of beautiful weather

What a day!
Weather was just beyond beautiful- 63 degrees! We slept in, and then spent most of the day outdoors, working it in the backyard! Lots of work accomplished today- we got the new veggie garden bed in the side yard filled with compost (pic on right is pre-compost), and then spent several hours weeding the back bed, on the south side of our house that always gets neglected.

I swear we turned up nearly every inch of that soil, ripped out about 10,000 ridiculous bulbs that I've been meaning to get rid of for the last couple of years! Then we covered the area with landscape fabric, and 2-3" mulch from Recycle Ann Arbor/City of Ann Arbor compost.

Next up will be finding some shrubs worthy of the space. So far we're thinking of shrubby cinquefoil or juniper. We're looking for something between 3-6" tall that can be trimmed fairly easily and is native to the area. If it has other beneficial properties (edible, medicinal, etc), all the better. The space is about 5ft x 12ft, so we're thinking 3-5 bushes would cover without looking too crowded.

Any suggestions? What's your favorite type of shrub?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Today in Photos- March 10th 2012

Tulips coming up in the side yard

new weather vane! :) Thanks Beth & David 
garlic coming up- such a nice sight
trained the raspberry vines to the fence 
compost for a health spring garden!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dark Days Challenge Recipe Week 12- White Beans & Rice (Fasooli)

I stumbled upon this yesterday as I was looking for a recipe that included Great Northern Beans, which is what I happened to have in my pantry. Usually I have to sneak beans into meals I make- I'm not a big fan of beans all on their lonesome. This recipe proves an exception to the rule- it features beans pretty prominently, and it turned out amazingly delicious. Maybe I was wrong about beans? Or maybe this recipe is just that good! The version below includes the few herbs that I added to season to my liking.

Fasooli- White beans and rice
1 onion, chopped
source: Carpenters Farm, Ann Arbor
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped 
source: my backyard garden
3 cups cooked great northern beans 
source: Michigan, 150 mile radius
1 can tomato paste
source: Eden Foods, Clinton MI
3 cups filtered water
3 cups basmati rice, cooked
source: far away, purchased Ypsi Food Co-op
2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt
source: far away, purchased Ypsi Food Co-op
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
source: my backyard garden
1/2 teaspoon cumin
source: far away, purchased Ypsi Food Co-op

  • Over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil. After a few minutes, add garlic. Stir frequently. Let onions saute until transparent and soft.
  • In a 4 cup measuring cup, mix tomato paste with water until smooth.
  • Add great northern beans, spices and tomato paste/water mixture to pot. Taste, adjust seasonings if necessary. Simmer to heat all ingredients thoroughly.
  • Turn off heat. Serve over basmati rice.
Serve and Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Product Review: To-Go Ware Food Carriers & Bamboo Utensil Sets

Let's start by being honest with each other- I suck at bringing my lunch to work. How could someone suck at that? Let me tell you: I rarely remember to bring my lunch to work.

When I do, it is usually in a series of bpa-laden tupperware that I don't feel safe microwaving. Or I bring it in a mason jar, and forget to bring the jar home forever. My co-workers can attest to that.

But all that is changing, due in part to To-Go Ware, a great asset for having food on the go while conserving resources. To-Go Ware (founded in Ann Arbor!) produces a line of food carriers of different sizes, and bamboo utensil sets for carting your food around- to work, on trips, etc. I recently purchased the Snack Stack ($19.00) and the RePEat Utensil Set ($12.95), and I am loving them.
The Snack Stack is the smallest food carrier system that To-Go Ware sells. I like it because it is light and fits in my bike panniers or a backpack easily. It's food-grade stainless steel, as are all the carriers made by To-Go Ware. The Snack Stack has 2 different containers that fasten together- to give you an idea of what size they are, the top tier holds 2 cups and the bottom tier holds 2.5 cups. The whole package is about 5" tall and 5" wide- cute, huh? It allows me to pack a variety of food, and so far the whole thing seems quite secure- no soup spilling out!

The RePEat Utentsil Set is pretty awesome as well. The utensils themselves are made with bamboo, and are easy to wash by hand or can go in the dishwasher. The utensil holder is made of recycled plastic bags- cool! The set comes with a fork, a knife, a spoon, and chopsticks- I love that it has chopsticks! My two favorite features- the utensil holder, which means there is less chance that I will loose all the utensils one by one, and the little carabiner that is on the back of the utensil holder- even harder to loose them-Yes!

As far as I can tell, To-Go Ware seems to be very into Fair Trade, and although the products are all made over-seas, they seem intentionally support businesses with strict fair labor standards and focus on high quality products. This review is just my 2 cents, and speaking of cents, I have not been paid or sponsored by To-Go Ware, I just like their products and I wanted to share. If you're looking to bring your lunch to work more often, in a healthy, earth-friendly way, OR you're looking to get take-out and avoid those styrofoam containers, check out a To-Go Ware Food Carrier!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dark Days Challenge Week 11- Soba Noodle Soup with winter veggies

Soba Noodle Soup with winter veggies
10oz buckwheat soba noodles
source: Eden Foods, Clinton MI
1 cup fresh spinach
source: Growing Hope Urban Farm, Ypsi MI
1 cup Pacific Natural organic vegetable broth
source: (purchased from Co-op) Oregon, USA
1 large carrots, diced
source: my garden- storage from root cellar
2 small onions
source: Carpenter's Farm, Ann Arbor,  MI
1 garlic clove, minced
source: my garden

  • Add vegetable broth to a small pot
  • Drop chopped carrots, onions, and garlic into the pot
  • Bring mixture to a boil
  • Add the soba noodles, and reduce heat to simmer
  • Let soup simmer for 12-14 minutes, until noodles are tender
  • Lastly, chop spinach into bite-sized pieces and add to soup
  • Season as desired- I add pepper and nanami togarashi (japanese mixed chili peppers)
Serve and Enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sticking it out until Spring

It's March, friends. The time where I start pretending its Spring, even though it is still 39 degrees outside. Once I see little crocus shoots poking up out of the ground, It Is Spring- thermometer be damned!

In my life as a gardener and a local eater, March is that fun time between growing and harvesting: I've got seedlings started, but they're not large enough to do anything with yet. I am down to my last 3 heads of backyard garlic, I am slowly but surely using up the potatoes and carrots in the root cellars outside. I have a few lonley sweet potatoes and squash still holding on in the mudroom, and have enough onions to last me right up until it's time to harvest my own!

One of the positive part of eating so much more seasonally this year is that I will really appreciate each new veggie as it comes into season.
I will be relying heavily on the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market, our local Ypsi Food Co-op, and Mix Marketplace will get me through, grocery-wise until my little seedlings are out there in the garden, growing and producing.  I can proudly say, that after eating only seasonally-available veggies when at home, that I am tired of storage carrots, onions, and potatoes. I could really use some fresh lettuce, a green onion, some chives, a strawberry, a tomato.... mmm. I'll have to dream for another couple of months.

What fruit or veggie are you most looking forward to eating when it comes into season?