On a whim, at the urging of someone I don't even know, I recently bought a beautiful book.
If you don’t yet own Nigel Slater’s Tender go now and buy it!, Katy Elliott said. And so, I did.
Katy is a blogger and former domino staffer who lives in a 250-year-old house she and her husband are renovating in Marblehead, Mass. To say I don't know her isn't completely accurate, because I read her blog, and through her posts I know something about her style and taste, and it seems she knows mine, because she was right. I had to have that book.
Nigel Slater is a British food writer who has divided his book into vegetables- an entire chapter on kale, one on celery root, one on parsnips. He writes about his favorite varieties, growing the vegetables, and then how to cook them, with some delightfully simple recipes, like
large, golden onions - 3
butter - a thick slice
oil - a small glug
with an entire page of description on not only how to cook them, but his personal history and the evolution of his relationship with the fried onion. There are more complicated and interesting recipes, too. And, the pictures are gorgeous.
The book is inspiring, and has got me thinking about planting the 2012 vegetable garden. I've taken inventory of the seeds I have from last year, and have decided not to buy any.
With what's leftover from last year, I will direct seed the following:
Waltham Butternut Squash
Costata Romenesco Zucchini
Sugar /Snow Peas
Green Butterhead Lettuce
Tokyo Long White Scallions
Deep Purple Carrot
Early Mokum Carrot
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Red Ace Beet
And, I'm going to try to plant some seeds my mom saved from the best melon she ever tasted. I have no idea what kind of melon it is, but if we are successful, it won't matter.
For the first time, I'm going to try to start some tomato seeds indoors, including those saved from a family heirloom tomato my friend Sharon gave to me. I also saved the Brandywine and Black Cherry tomato seeds from last year.
I'll buy the rest from the garden center: basil, eggplant, Sun Gold tomatoes, peppers, shallots, leeks, and maybe some red onion. We did well with things in the onion family last year, because the bugs and animals don't like them.
If we do build another small plot closer to the house (very dependant on how long the bathroom reno takes), I think I'll just spread out our plantings, and maybe add more tomatoes. We had such an iffy 2011, I'd like to succeed at some of the things we tried and failed at last year before trying anything new (though, brussel sprouts, potatoes, and baby broccoli are on my wish list). Just because we grew peas and edamame and cilantro and cucumbers and butternut squash and lettuce and purple carrots last year doesn't mean we got to eat them. And, we've already got the seeds. So, the garden should be much more cost-effective this year, and still full of new rewards. I hope.
Now I need to come up with a rotation that puts things in a different place than they were in last year, but still next to the companions they like best. And, I've got to research a very low-maintenance way to start tomato seeds indoors.
Are you planning to plant anything new in 2012? Have you started seeds indoors? Do you know how to attract the good bugs that eat the bad bugs?