Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring is Here Gardening Fiends

This is indeed the first day of Spring. And it follows the largest full moon in decades. That should mean something, though the damp and cold are here today, too.

I celebrated the first spring day by ordering heirloom seed varieties from Azure Standard:
All of these varieties, packaged by Heirlooms Evermore, have been around since the 1800's. How reassuring.

The Marvel of 4 Seasons Lettuce was the most prolific (photo above, front row), romaine type lettuce. It was the most delicious, juicy, and long standing lettuce I've ever planted. The Burbank tomatoes did really well too. Under the pink ribbons in the bed with marigolds, carrots and a zucchini. The green next to the bed is chickweed and mallow. In the foreground an irrepressible Manitoba Maple.

So I am sold on heirloom varieties for Montana. Last year was a rough summer on gardens-so people told me. My raised bed kitchen garden raised a bumper crop. My plants get a great start and good care for about six weeks. After that, it is fend for yourself time. In the next week or so I hope to start a hot frame bed to start plants I would normally start indoors. More on that next time.

I recently discovered I have some common food intolerance–dairy, gluten, sugar and yeast. Cutting out most of what I like has escalated my commitment to raw, fresh, local and seasonable edibles. Also, my commitment to exploring websites with cool recipes like living without. Can't wait for my chickweed which should be showing up soon in the backyard. YES, this early we can already start harvesting nutritious greens. You can find them on the south facing walls, along brick or cinderblock embankments, or in protected patios. The race is on.

I like remembering that agriculture started with alley grazing, before there were even alleys!! Women, children and elders with baskets, scouring the countryside. Isn't is reassuring to know that we're still doing it all these centuries later. Only now, men are allowed to do it too, unlike several centuries ago when it might have been frowned on as gender inappropriate. I remember reading that men and women weren't even allowed to use the same tools for the same job back then. Scythes and shovels...

Celestial Seasonings started with grazing, too. Those two hippie guys tromping over hill and dale filling up their backpacks with wild herbs and berries back in the '70's. Their product line was so superior to anything else on the shelves, they eventually grew their little storefront into a multimillion dollar operation. Even after Nestle bought them out, it's still great tea! Plus I think they invented the ethics of businesses giving back to the communities in which they do business. Or maybe that was Ben & Jerry.

Okay, that was a signature digression. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Happy Grazing!!