What it's all about

Ten years ago, my husband and I moved to our home in Weaverville, NC. Since then we have dug, hoed, tilled and cleared; creating flower and vegetable gardens. Like most things in life we have learned through trial and error; in fact, just two years ago we scrapped the whole thing and started over. So, through this process I have learned a few things about gardening organically. I would say that gardening is my meditation; cultivating, nurturing, and ultimately giving the end result up to the universe to decide its fate has been a great lesson for me to carry through out my life. My hope in writing this blog is to communicate with other gardeners, both novice and veteran, who share this same passion and love for farming. I hope for this to be a place where we can share knowledge and learn from each other. It is March in the south and all the seed catalogues have been put away, the days of dreaming and longing are over, it is time to garden!

Friday, March 26, 2010

The man

The wishful, hopeful gardener: endives

Every year, when I look through the Johnny's catalogue, I look for something new to plant in my garden. The glossy pictures do entice me, but usually I am looking for the extra-ordinary; something to write home about if you know what I mean. Last year I splurged on the Purple Haze Carrot. Turns out that purple carrots grow the same as their less hybridized orange relative, but their taste lacks the sweet, juicy flavor. For those of you who have never tried a fresh picked carrot it rivals the home garden tomato with out a doubt. In fact, they taste so good that I have to keep my dog, Chai Tea, from digging up every single one!

This year I decided to try my hand at Belgian Endives. My inspiration came in the middle of the winter while I was reading Elliott Coleman's book The Four Season Harvest( Thanks Miss Mindy.) The Belgian Endive is apparently the ultimate localvore veggie for the dead of winter. The Endive is a member of the chickory family, it is a bitter cousin to plants like radicchio and escarole. What happens is that you plant the seed in the garden and in the fall you harvest the root and store it away in either your fridge, or if you are so lucky to have one, you root cellar. Then, around January or February the next winter is when the magic really begins. Take your root, place it in a 5 gallon bucket of sand and bring the bucket into your warm house...into a closet or other dark area. After a few days of being inside, a ghost of a plants will arise. This part of the Endive is known as the chicon. This kind of trickery actually has a name in the gardening world, it is known as forcing.
The irony of this new gardening endeavor is that I have actually only tasted endive once and found it to be a sad, pale substitute for the lush and vibrant green lettuce that usually graces my plate. However, I have recently received several suggestion for braising endives and look foreward to trying the endive again. One would think that because the endive grows in the dark it lacks nutrients, well, guess again, the endive is rich in fiber, iron, and potassium. I will let you all know how it goes. In the mean time, enjoy the gardening season, be adventurous with your garden...try something new.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today, we tilled up our big beds and began soaking our sugar and snap peas. Tomorrow, I will cover the soaked seed in innoculant to increase their yield. I also started a tray of pepper and tomatoe seedlings. I find that they have a much better germination rate if I start them on a heating mat.
We also dug up our Heritage raspberries. I swear, everytime I plant something I wonder the next season, "What was I thinking, why would I think that was a good place to plant X or Y?" Moving raspberries is no treat, even with gloves my hands are full of tiny, hairsized prickers. The good news, my eight raspberry plants have put out millions of suckers in just one year so...raspberries for all.