Sunday, March 14, 2010

In the garden!?

Yes, it's true. I got out in the garden yesterday. This is unheard of for Ottawa at this time of year -- unless you've gone out to push snow of the hedge before it collapses, or to knock large slabs of ice off of the bird feeders. The soil was even workable (which means it wasn't frozen, and was dry enough that it didn't ball-up like cookie dough when raked) so I planted the first batch of arugula. Yes! Spring is on the way!! Arugula is tough stuff and can take some freezes if we still get them so it's a great crop to start with.

First I had to clean the ash seeds and winter crud out of the way. (There's still snow in the middle of the raised beds, but the edges are nice and clear.)

After a nice rake, I scattered the seeds on the soil surface.

Then tamped them in with the back of the rake, and all set. A few weeks from now I'll be one happy camper.

I'm a firm believer that cooks should also garden -- if only to be able to grow cool ingredients that are either hard to get, silly expensive, or in such a crappy state at most stores that it really is necessary to grow your own. I'm a big fan of fresh rosemary, so have a pot (actually, at last count, 5 pots) of that on the go at all times. I also grow bay (all bay leaves sold in stores were grown during the time of King Tut). The only other thing I keep in the house through the winter is Mexican oregano which can't survive outside. It can be bought locally, but is usually just a pile of dusty flower heads, and nothing compared to home-dried whole leaves. Outside there is thyme (dries well for winter), sage (according to an old herbal, you can't die if this is in your garden, so what kind of crazy person wouldn't grow it?!), lovage (you can never have not enough if it's in your garden), several oreganoes (turkish, syrian, and greek), and french tarragon (really fun to chew on when you're cutting the grass because it makes your tongue go numb -- i am easily amused), and a few delicate annuals like chervil.

A few surprises were outside yesterday. It looks like my Cavolo Nero kale...

...and rainbow swiss chard both made it through the winter (not normal here) so I should have fun watching these biennials flower and set seed.

I'll spend the rest of the day (or at least as much as I can!) contemplating such wonders with another wonder: the half metre of Belgian beer I just bought! One of the great things about being in Ottawa is that you have easy access to both Ontario and Quebec liquor stores. Peaceable kingdom!!

Peace be with you! I know it will be with me!

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