Dig In: New food part of the fun

David believes it’s his job to make me happy so he encouraged me to dig up every usable square inch of the yard for food growing.

January leeks for supper.

January leeks for supper.

David believes it’s his job to make me happy so he encouraged me to dig up every usable square inch of the yard for food growing.

He just wasn’t expecting to have to eat so many unusual vegetables. The thing is, one cannot grow only familiar vegetables when faced with seed catalogues filled with enticing-sounding crops like Shungiku, Table King Acorn Squash and Black Beauty Zucchini. Does French Dandelion taste different to our local stuff?

I limit myself to trying out just a few items each year, while the bulk of the garden fills up with the usual suspects. Sometimes a vegetable we’ve never tried before proves to be quite tasty so I keep growing it — like kohlrabi and Goldana Turnip. I like to order these seeds from the catalogue because the supplier stores them under optimum conditions that keep them viable much longer than those sitting on a store shelf. Mind you, I have to stifle myself, sometimes unsuccessfully, when passing by the seed shelves calling my name.

Some vegetables have over-wintered well, like both Copra and Early Yellow Globe Onions, Bandit Leeks, Purple Vienna Kohlrabi, Goldana Turnip and my three-year-old tea plant. The daikon radish is riddled with worm holes and the lettuce in the cold frame got munched up by whatever was keeping nice and toasty in there — probably slugs. So far the cold frame has only encouraged the wee beasties by providing a perfect environment and a buffet, but it works very well in spring time to harden off seedlings because I cover each flat completely with spun cloth cover that keeps out predators before placing them in the cold frame.

Bandit Leeks and Mammoth Red Cabbage might not be everyone’s cup of tea but they’ve seen us through winter even when kale has died back. One could more easily buy a bag of onions and heads of cabbage at the store, but they wouldn’t taste as good. There’s something inherently satisfying about traipsing out in the hard-packed snow and digging out dinner, knowing that we can provide for ourselves year-round.

I’m reminded of an article published years ago in the Times-Colonist about two elderly brothers in North Saanich who lived in the old house they inherited from their parents. A picture of one of them scrubbing his back in the old bathroom won an award, but the picture I liked the best was one of the brothers coming into the house bringing two potatoes from the garden in for supper, saying, “We always make sure to eat something from the garden every day.”

I think he was onto something.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.