My home-grown garden food has been reduced to one bag of dried apples, two cups of apple sauce and a half cup of dried black beans. I got so accustomed to having something I had grown at every meal that I feel sad that I did not grow or preserve more. I left apples on the tree because I didn’t want to slice any more to dry. I didn’t want to spend any more time making apple sauce. I didn’t even just slice apples and put them in the freezer. It will most likely be May before anything I can eat will be growing outside.
I have been trying to buy food at the grocery store that I could have grown. I have butternut squash, green beans, green peppers, carrots, and spinach in my kitchen. All of these were purchased at the local grocery store.
Today, I checked the labels of what I bought. The butternut squash came from Canada. This is reasonable. Butternut squash is a winter squash and it will store well if the skin is undamaged. It didn’t have to have been picked recently.
The green beans were from Kansas City, Missouri. The green beans were fresh, and looked great, but in the last two weeks in Kansas it has been below freezing a lot of days, and the highest temperature in the last two weeks was 55 degrees on November 25. I don’t think the green beans were grown in Kansas. The label said it was grown in the U.S. The green peppers were also packaged in Kansas City but could have been grown either in Mexico or the U.S. The spinach was packaged in Illinois, but nowhere on the package did it indicate where it was grown.The carrots I bought came from California.
The carrots could have been picked more recently and stored for winter eating. They could have been grown locally. I have been enjoying the root vegetables like carrots, beets and my new favorite, parsnips. I am eating a lot of winter squash, but I miss green vegetables.
Last week most of the greens disappeared from the shelves because of the Romaine lettuce crisis. My mother cautioned us not to eat any kale, because she heard about the E. coli bacteria and the recall across the country. We assured her it was Romaine lettuce, not kale. However, when I went to the grocery store, the kale was gone and only bags of spinach were available.
This recent crisis has really deepened my desire to grow some kind of harvestable green this winter. I like knowing the ground where my food was grown. It’s not that I don’t trust any commercial food producers. I just don’t want to have to depend on them.
I meant to put in a starter low tunnel, but didn’t. A low tunnel keeps the frost off of greens and keeps them available for harvest long into the colder months. It was something I saw on Youtube in a garden a lot farther south than I am. I don’t know if it would really work here, but I need to figure something out. I have got to have a source of homegrown greens in the winter. I will have to grow a lot more in the fall to have greens for eating and freezing. We ate everything we grew. We didn’t leave anything.
Gardening for me isn’t just about replacing what I could buy in the grocery store with the same varieties grown in my garden. I also want to eat the food that doesn’t travel well, but looks and tastes wonderful. I want the freedom of having multiple types of carrots that grow in a rainbow of colors. I want to taste some of the marvelous vegetables I am seeing in the seed catalogues that started arriving this month. I want that feeling we had in the summer, whether physical, or psychological that came from knowing that we were eating food that had been in the garden less than an hour before we were eating it.
It’s going to be a long winter.