Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Growing Garden and Eating with the Seasons

Our garden is coming along nicely! We have planted lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, kale, collards, beans, peas, radishes, cauliflower, cucumbers, okra, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, and a "three sisters" garden of beans, corn and squash growing together. Whew! That's a lot. The only thing still left to be put into the ground are the tomatoes and pepper plants that we started from seed. 

garden beds and cold frame- the trellis pictured here is for the cucumbers

peas are popping up

All of our gardening efforts have really got me thinking lately about trying to eat more with the seasons.  I know I have talked about this before, but I really think it is important when trying to maintain a local and wholesome foods diet, especially if you are aiming to grow as much food on your own as possible. What we can't grow ourselves, we can purchase from the local farmer's market, which always provides produce that is in season in our area. Of course, there are a lot of foods and other dry goods that you will have to purchase at your grocery store or market that you can't make on your own. I'm hoping to whittle that list down as I learn to be more self-sufficient on our little homestead. 

This bed is all ready for tomatoes and peppers to be planted

Since we are growing springtime veggies right now, our meals would revolve around produce such as lettuce and greens, kale, collards, asparagus, spring onions, snap peas, spinach, broccoli, and other crops that can tolerate colder weather. Our chickens are always laying eggs and we keep milk, cheese, free range chicken, pasta, and fresh bread on hand, so those ingredients are a staple in our diet and often contribute to our meals. So, a weekly meal plan for us in the spring might look something like this: 

-asparagus, pancetta, and cheddar quiche

-Asian chicken salad  (lettuce and greens, cut up seasoned chicken with curry powder, candied and toasted sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, spring onions, toasted sesame dressing)

-White bean, bacon, and kale soup with fresh bread

-Poached eggs over crispy marjoram toasts smothered in an herb tomato sauce

-Pecan crusted pork loins, southern spoon bread, sauteed collard greens with garlic

-chicken salad sandwiches (a mayonnaise based recipe with spinach and grapes) with raw veggies like broccoli, snap peas, and carrots

-strawberry pie

The hardest part about eating seasonally sometimes, at least for me, is giving up fruit when it is not available locally. Are you willing to do that? The earliest bearing fruits in the spring are strawberries and rhubarb. 

In the early summer and again in the late summer and fall, I will post more about how our garden harvests affect meal planning for our family, so do stay tuned.  Do you try to eat seasonally? 

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  1. Your garden is lovely, Megan! I had to giggle at chicken wire fences, presumably in place to keep your free-ranging flock out. I need to do the same because our chickens keep taking dirt baths in one of the empty beds! That needs to be discouraged ASAP since I'll be planting more seeds this week.

    Yes, we try to eat seasonally as much as possible, too. The food just tastes so much better that way! And I the anticipation of deeply ripe strawberries, or tomatoes, etc.
    I've actually been freezing strawberries this week picked from a local farm, so while we enjoy fresh ones now, we'll have frozen ones for smoothies once they're out of season. Same goes for tomatoes--we mostly roast them and then make a simple tomato soup that we freeze for fall-through-spring tomato consumption.

    On the top of seasonal eating, have you seen the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook? I got it for Christmas and it's organized by seasons. :)

    Take care,

    1. Erin, yes I am familiar with the Beekman 1802 cookbook- I have a few of the recipes from Martha Stewart Living but I need to put that entire cookbook on my wish list (and I love the Beekman Boys!) Thanks for the tip on freezing strawberries- we need to get out and pick some ASAP! They came so early this year.

  2. We freeze our fruit, make jam, dehydrate... We also occasionally buy boxes of organic citrus fruit from the south. Once you start eating seasonally, it feels odd to eat out of season. With your climate, you'll love it!

    1. Do you have any fruit trees or do you buy fruit locally? We only have one small peach tree. I have a feeling I will be making some more jam this year too. I hope that I can make eating seasonally easy for us- we will just have to stay very busy with the garden to have enough for the whole year!

  3. We just planted our first garden in a raised garden bed and guess what. I ran out of room!

    1. Congrats on your first garden! Running out of room is so easy to do- we had the same problem when we started with our first raised bed. You can always expand and do a little more each year!

  4. I've been thinking very much along the same lines; how did our ancestors really live? They didn't have the option of convenience and lived with what was growing right then. I think the food would be that much better, because the anticipation would be so great for the next season! I'm anxious to see where this leads you!

  5. You are so right! I am sure the food tasted so much better as it was fresh, local, and always in season. I love reading period books where they describe the food traditions....I feel we have so much to learn!

  6. So glad I found your blog through Homestead Revival. Your garden space looks great! We've had our chickens and turkeys sneak into our garden; now we have fencing up. The funniest time was when I decided to grow Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes. I was so excited as they put on fruit and we watched them grow. When it was time for some to be ripe, I went to pick some only to find just tops left. Apparently the Cherokee Purple ripen from the bottom (which the chickens and turkeys had discovered before me)! Do you have the Reader's Digest book Back to Basics? It's one of my favorites. I'm going to have to look up the Beekman cookbook. Thanks for sharing with us.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! That is too funny about your chickens discovering the tomatoes before you. Mine love cherry tomatoes so I'm sure if we didn't fence our garden off they would just help themselves! I do not have the back to basics Reader's Digest book but I will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip! Glad to know you have chickens and turkeys together- we are considering getting some turkey poults here in the next few weeks if they aren't too much extra work.

    2. I should clarify, we used to have turkeys. We butchered some, but coyotes got the others by breaking into the pen. Also, the bigger breeds don't do well on our hilly acreage. We're thinking of getting the Midget Whites. Many of the livestock websites will warn you not to mix the two, but we did not have any problem with ours free-ranging. They were alot of fun and not any extra work than the chickens. Let us all know if you get some!