Vegetable gardening

Wednesday’s Home & Garden section of The New York Times had an article about Four Season’s Farm. Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch carved out a business and a life growing organic vegetables year-round in rocky, coastal Maine. They both have written, and spoken, extensively about organic gardening. Visiting their farm is an inspiration.

Not quite inspiration enough for me this year, however. Our mild winter would have been ideal for growing hardy vegetables under row covers. Yet somehow other distractions kept us from it, and so our beds lie empty until the first spring plantings.

My seed order was also tardy, which is why I am still awaiting its arrival when I should be starting my artichoke seeds. (Until we visited Four Seasons Farm, we hadn’t realized artichokes grew in our climate. We saw these large, unusual plants in a field there, and on closer inspection saw several artichokes on each one. We’ve grown them ever since. They take up more room than their yield warrants, but we enjoy them so much we don’t mind.) I will, however, be on time for the mid-March planting of kohlrabi, cabbage, celeriac, Swiss chard and greens. For years now I have purchased tomato, pepper and other heat-loving plants from the Casey Farm annual sale because I didn’t have proper lighting for growing strong plants. I now do, and so next year I might try them (I didn’t order any of those seeds this year).

We’ve had little snow and many warm days, and we’ve benefited from this at the winter farmers’ market with a greater abundance and variety of vegetables. Still, with the seed order, I have begun anticipating spring and the garden filled with small plants. The beds do require attention (adding nutrients) before planting, but the harder work doesn’t really begin until summer. Spring is for fresh starts.

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