Small miracles to be grateful for. Kale survival and Michael Pollan might seem slightly incongruous – maybe they are, but I think there’s a connection. Anticipating last week’s cold snap, we covered some of our lettuce with wool blankets and harvested the rest, then left the brassicas, broccoli and kale, to the cold which, it is said, they love. Fingers crossed, we also left chard to the elements.
A week later I peeked into their snowy hibernation, which, by the way, is excellent insulation, and noted that we have a few survivors. (Photos on the next page show their stalwart cold-weather character eight days ago.)
The kale looks fine so far and its flavor might have improved with the cold, at least that’s the theory. The chard? There’s hope. We read the following in Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest (Binda Colebrook): “I like chard for its winter bulk and early spring rebound. The ribs aren’t good past fall, but the leaves taste nice. Mine dies back in northeasters and I cut it down to a nub so that it won’t rot. It starts growing again in February and lasts ’til May.” We’ll try this, cut back the chard after the thaw and see how it goes.
Taking stock of what we now have in our winter garden that’s edible I see broccoli and kale that look pretty good as well as a large crop of parsley. Fava beans might have survived for spring, and herbs will probably be fine. That’s it. I know it’s too obvious, but it’s another insight into the necessity of past generations canning vegetables for winter. People got by on what they could grow or had preserved – no running to the store for chard or lettuce from somewhere like Peru, Mexico or California. Potatoes even. They’d better be stored in the cellar or forget about it. If my household were dependent on the garden only at this point we would be left with a few servings of kale, broccoli, and bunches of parsley – actually quite nutritious – to last until spring. Surely we would forage, as people did and more are rediscovering again. Oh, and there are Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores. Whew.
Anyway, thoughts about our personal food supply lead me to thinking about Pollan and Obama. I began to think again about what food production meant to my grandmother and about how Michael Pollan is pleading with present generations and administrations to honor our grand- and great-grandmothers’ wisdom about food. (Obama made a reference to Pollan’s NYTimes Farmer In Chief article in a recent Time magazine interview. He’s aware and paying attention.) This Pollan video interview -link below- conducted by ABC’s Nightline a few months ago is well done. His discussion of whole food vs. edible foodlike substances is accessible and interesting. Literally food for thought. A small action toward sustainability might be to listen and converse with others about Pollan’s ideas – whether or not you agree or disagree, the conversation is important.
Nightline Interview with Michael Pollan: One Man’s Defense of Food, this is interesting for its video footage and Pollan’s profoundly sensible insight – definitely worth your eight minutes.
Garden’s bounty just eight days ago – and in this morning’s snow (top of post).