Yards to Gardens


Alright, I have a new personal rule.  It’s this: Once I begin to feel any sort of self-pity or downtrodden I hurriedly take that energy and redirect it into something charitable or practical.  That said, a garden is a great place to encounter therapy and well, grow food.  A place for multi-tasking.

This is when I annually begin pushing and shoving you to begin a garden of your own, big or small, if you haven’t already.  I can’t possibly cover all the benefits.  But listen, no one will ever be able to call me a green thumb, I garden clumsily and just wish myself luck most of the time.  Gardening is something I’ve nervously fallen into, but each year I’m astounded by how much I learn.  If you’re just unable to do it yourself, and I do know how that feels, you could call A Backyard Farm, a local business that builds backyard vegetable gardens and provides maintenance and harvesting through the season.  If you don’t have a yard yourself, or sun, then you can either join a community garden in your neighborhood or share a garden.  Finally, if you just want to eat like you have a garden but don’t want to build or maintain one you can easily purchase a share of a CSA farm and receive a box of produce each week to eat.  We are lucky, there are endless possibilities for eating well in our community.

Here’s what I’m growing this season to feed my family, friends and clients (some of which will just not grow, of course):  tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, nasturtiums, carrot, mint, winter squash, melon, lettuces, chard, kale, cucumber, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, green bean, sage, tarragon, parsley, cilantro, basils, lavender, chives, beet, radish, summer squashes, turnips, strawberries, and asparagus.

One food I’m not growing this year but is one of those delicious, quirky, spring delicacies you should check out is the ramp.  I’ve told you about ramps before.  A wild onion, quite like a miniature leek that has a sharp, garlicky quality.  And either you fall in love with them (and have I seen ramp-lust before) or you despise them (like my husband, who suffers serious indigestion at the whisper of them).  If you’re intrigued now you must dash to your local food co-op now and pick up a bunch, for their season is spectacularly short.  I usually add ramps to eggs and egg dishes, but here is another quick recipe:

Ramp Butter

1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz.)

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon ramp leaves, finely chopped

parchment paper

Leave your stick of butter on the counter for an afternoon to come to room temperature (unless it is very warm out, leave it until it begins to soften).  Place your butter in a large bowl and add the rest of your ingredients.  Cream the mix with a wooden spoon until it all comes together.  Cut a 10-inch square of parchment paper and dollop your butter into a long mound at the mid-bottom part of your square.  Now, slowly roll up your butter into the parchment, trying to create a log-shape.  Twist the end of each side and place your butter in the fridge.  When you’re ready to use you can slice the butter into coins.  Use ramp butter on toast, with noodles, on top of fish or chicken fillets, or grilled vegetables.

Eat well and be well,