We know, however, that if we were forced to it, we would abandon all the parts of the ornamental garden before we surrendered the little patch that feeds us most of the year. Giving up the vegetable garden would mean that we would cease to eat. We would continue to put food in our mouths, we suppose, though certainly we can both imagine states of loss and depression so grave as to make even that minimal effort at survival pointless. But at this time of our lives, the ingestion of food merely for the purpose of survival is not what we mean by eating. To be nourished directly from a garden for years and year, to become accustomed not only to the tastes but also to the labors and rituals it offers, the small festivals, makes even the fanciest gourmet market seem thin. Corn is not the only crop that, eaten as soon after harvest a possible, surprises even memory with what it can be. Carrots taste both sweeter and of the earth when eaten just pulled, their flavor rusty with minerals. Peas need no butter, no cooking even. Baby potatoes the size of marbles can be bought in no market, golden purslane and orach in only a few. In the door of no market that we know of can ripening tomatoes be smelled as we smell them in August when the garden gate swings open. Artichokes which we grow here with great effort, are tender and sweet, without the ferrous taste and fibrous chew that mark store-bought ones. From each plant we may coax two or three apple sized buds before frosts come to remind us where we live. From two long rows of fava beans we can pick at most only two or three company sized servings. From as many rows of butter beans, sadly less.
Joe Eck & Wayne Winterrowd in Living Seasonally: The Kitchen Garden and the Table at North Hill
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I grabbed this book to read on my trip to Cincinnati this weekend. It’s my all time favorite book and I try to read it every year. At this time of the year, I’m always considering my vegetable garden and how much it have provided for us throughout the past year and for the coming months ahead.
As I put most of my garden to bed for the cold winter months, I’m reminded of how many different vegetables I grew. It really is amazing how little space you need to grow a lot of vegetables. My small potager behind the house is only 25×25 feet and yet it provided most of the fresh vegetables that we ate all summer long. From it I harvested: peas, beans, fava beans, chard, strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes, leeks, beets, peppers, herbs, celeriac, celery, broccoli, cabbage, flowers, carrots, arugula, radicchio, kale, chicory, lettuce, and a few other edibles.