March 31, 2010

Mid-season start

It's the end of March, and for many Kansans, garden season has just started. For us, though, the season is about a quarter over. Currently, we have 400-500 tomato plants, ranging in size from about 10 inches tall to just peaking through the soil. About 200 broccoli plants are waiting to be transplanted outside, as are 1800 onion sets, 600 leak sets, 150 pounds of seed potatoes, and a lot of pepper plants.

It is a big garden and a big undertaking, but it is a very enjoyable way to spend our time. There is such an intrinsic reward of watching a plant grow from a speck-sized seed into a viable, healthy seedling, of gently transplanting the tender young plants into the awaiting high tunnels, providing the nourishment it needs to grow into massive 6- and 7-foot tall plants, and then savoring the fruit of our labor. That's the part Jay enjoys the most-- the growing part.

I enjoy growing our own food, of finding new ways to fix the old standards like tomatoes, potatoes, beans, or finding creative ways to fix the new vegetables he grows each year. Last year's new veggie was homegrown broccoli and cauliflower; this year's challenge is swiss chard, hakuri turnips, bok choy, napa cabbage, leeks, ground cherries, and serrano peppers, to name a few.

What we enjoy above all else is finding a way to increase our income while spending time with our kids. We are the proud parents of four daughters, ages 8, 6, 3, and 1. They all play a role in the garden, whether it be planting leeks and potatoes or making muddy rivers when it's time to water. The experiences they are gaining, the knowledge they are growing, is more "profitable" than any other crop we could plant.

So, please join us on our journey this year. Watch our garden grow and learn from our mistakes. Add to our recipe cache and hopefully find some new recipes to try in your own home. Won't you join us?