By LYNNE IRONS
I have had it with the produce aisle at the local market. Now granted, the food is arranged in a pleasing fashion and there is certainly a large variety of choices. I can’t stand the fact that it is all shipped here from across the country or around the world. I think about the scene in East of Eden when the boxcars of rotting lettuce further alienated James Dean from his father!
I hauled out the alfalfa and fenugreek seeds from the freezer and set them to soak. Within days I had a fine crop of sprouts. There is the twice daily rinsing of said sprouts but otherwise it is a relatively effortless process resulting in fresh greens for days. I sauteed several of my stored onions from last summer in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some soft cheese and poured the mixture over a huge plate of sprouts. It was a wonderful supper with a small carbon footprint.
Eliot Coleman has pointed out that February 1 is the first day of 10 hours of light. The last time that happened was in November. Anything growing up to that point would hold. For example, head lettuce in a greenhouse or cold frame wouldn’t grow but would maintain. After next week, things will be able to take off so now is the time to think about planting under plastic or glass. Spinach, kale, mache, cold varieties of lettuce, and radishes can all be started. I just plant into big tubs and pots in an unheated hoop house. They should germinate in a few weeks and I’ll be enjoying greens in March. The most rudimentary of situations will suffice so know you will be able to do this as well.
I spent a couple of enjoyable hours reading the D. Landreth Seed Company catalog. This is a company that opened in Philadelphia in 1784. The most far-reaching undertaking of the company happened with the 1844 publishing of the Rural Register and Almanac. It included political, socio-economic and scientific information and taught the pioneers how to live off and with the land. I have to share this anecdote from the 1848 Rural Register:
“The life of the farmer is one of almost uninterrupted labor, each season brings its appropriate duties, and if diligently performed, the husbandman is seldom found unemployed; his occupation is, however, one of the many pleasures, and though it be laborious there are enjoyments which do not attend any other of life’s callings. His fields, his flocks, his fruits, whilst they yield pecuniary return for the care bestowed, also afford enjoyment of a high order; as he looks on his well-tilled lands, smiling as it were, in gratitude for the labor of his hands, he is the recipient of pleasure which no other pursuit affords.”
Thank you to Henry Rotman of Milford, Conn. He sent along some wonderful stories about sledding back in the day after reading about my adventures in Rew, Pa. Several of the stories involved makes of sleds and names of hills including the word suicide. I love my out-of-town correspondents.
This fall I cleaned out my chicken coop and filled 20 or so five-gallon buckets with manure. I meant to get them into the garden but as time and luck would have it, I simply walked away from the project. Last Sunday, I bullied my 20-year-old grandsons to help me pry them from the frozen ground. They were filled to the brim with frozen manure tea. After hauling them to the garden it was some time to dislodge what we now are calling poo-cubes. We covered the frozen hunks with black weed mat to hopefully melt by spring. Grandchildren are much easier to coerce than children. God bless them!
After the election last Tuesday, I was so distressed I switched to the Classic Movie Channel and watched Spencer Tracy and Frederic March in Inherit the Wind. What could possibly have been more fitting? Then I realized I could swallow a Republican in Teddy’s seat easier than the recent Supreme Court decision. Have mercy!