5.23.16 Wisconsin Grown | Part 5
Up until now, I’ve really only been showcasing the farmer’s market as my source for locally grown goodness, but the truth is, I also get a lot of my produce from my CSA (more on that later) and my own backyard. The benefits to growing your own vegetables and herbs are numerous - you can grow exactly what you want, and as much as you want; you can grow interesting heirloom varieties that may otherwise be hard to find; and most importantly, they are always close at hand. No waiting for market days or CSA pickups; you want a salad? Go out back and pick some lettuce. It doesn’t get any fresher than that. I also feel a sense of pride as I eat my homegrown produce (I grew that salad!)
Sure, it can also be a lot of work. Between planting, weeding, watering, keeping the dog out of the garden bed, and everything else that goes with having a home garden, some days it can seem a bit daunting. And, at least for me, there will always be something I plant that turns out to be a terrific flop. But in the end, I love growing my own food, so it’s totally worth it.
This year, I’ve got a lot of great things slated for the garden. I tend to grow both plants from seed (those that mature and ripen relatively quickly) and transplants (those that need a little extra time and have to be started indoors before the last frost dates). I almost always buy my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange because I love all of the beautiful and interesting heirloom varieties they have available. My seed plants this year include:
- Sylvetta Arugula
- Crisp Mint Lettuce
- Dragon Tongue Beans
- Scarlet Nantes Carrots
- A & C Pickling Cucumber
- Edible Flowers - Nasturtium and Johnny Jump-Up
I’m not brave enough to try sprouting my own transplants indoors, so I tend to leave those to the professionals. This year, I bought all of my transplants from Raleigh’s Hillside Farm, a local CSA farm near Evansville, and they are some absolutely beautiful plants. Here are the transplants going into this year’s garden:
- Heirloom Tomatoes - Yellow Brandywine, Pruden’s Purple, and Sun Gold
- Red and Yellow Italian Frying Peppers
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Poblano Pepper
- Lacinato Kale
- Purple Basil
And of course, our garden wouldn’t be complete without a few perennials that keep coming back each spring, including raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, hops, lemon balm, and chives.
Now, seeing as how my garden has just gone in this weekend, none of my garden veggies are anywhere near ready for consumption quite yet. But be on the lookout for them in my posts later this season! And of course, we did (as usual) hit up the farmer’s market for some delicious late spring produce, so we’ve still got something to work with. Here’s what we’re cooking with this week:
Rhubarb - Our breakfasts this week are about to get a whole lot better thanks to these rhubarb coffee cake muffins.
Oyster, Shiitake, and King Trumpet Mushrooms - Once I laid eyes on this beautiful bunch of mixed mushrooms, I absolutely had to get them. They’re going to be amazing in this barley salad I’ve been dying to make.
Broccoli Rabe - There are probably many, many things one can do with broccoli rabe, but in my mind, sauteeing it up and adding it to pasta is the best way to go. With lots of roasted garlic, parmesan, and hot italian sausage, obviously.
Pea Shoots - You know those delicious, garlicky stir fried pea shoots you get at dim sum restaurants? Well, if you pick up some pea shoots at the farmer’s market, you can easily make it yourself at home. Also, this way, you don’t have to share.
Scallions - A big, beautiful bunch of market scallions is the perfect reason to make up a batch of these white cheddar and scallion biscuits with hot sauce butter.
Radishes - We all know that radishes are the perfect vehicle for fresh butter and plenty of flaky sea salt, but did you know the greens are edible too? I’m thinking Deborah Madison’s radish top soup with yogurt and lemon is looking especially appealing these days.