My kids call me the doomer. I try to tell them that I just like to be prepared. I never want to worry about where my next meal is coming from. In doing so I have learned to garden in good weather and bad. This year is one of those years where some things are doing much better than expected while others are an unmitigated disaster. Every year I seem to say to Bill, “If we had to survive on this year’s garden we would starve to death by February”. Even though I’m getting better at my gardening and adding more and more perennial beds and plants to the ever changing array of food that I grow I know that it would never be enough for a family to survive on until the next crop comes in.
The main reason I really grow a garden is there is nothing like the taste of a warm cucumber just picked, or that summer tomato. The real revelation came to me when I grew potatoes for the first time a couple of years ago. Potatoes freshly dug scream “POTATO” when you eat them. Something happens to produce the minute it is harvested – the taste begins to wane. There are only two things I grow that improve once picked – pears and long pie pumpkins.
Last weekend we made a spectacular meal of things we have grown (or in the case of the steak watched grow). These are the meals that are memorable, the ones I like to share with friends and family. I want them to know their food can be so much better. There is such satisfaction in knowing you started the seeds and nurtured your food. That there are no chemicals involved in any of the food we ate. The beef was fed grass and hay from one property, no hormones, antibiotics. It grew up in fresh air and sunshine. It tastes like BEEF, not the homogenized red meat you find wrapped in plastic and styrofoam at the grocery store. There is a huge difference.
The garden surplus I will continue to can to use in the winter months. Peaches and apricots are next on the list and I will continue with tomatoes. Even with processing the taste of home canned fruit of any kind is a revelation in the winter. The first bite brings you back to summer. That is what makes all the work of preserving your harvest in the summer worthwhile.