Fresh Food: Growing and Buying

Today it is pouring rain again. Luckily, yesterday it held off until night. I took advantage to go to the Arlington Farmer’s Market, only a short walk from my home. I needed some asparagus for a dinner party and two vendors had it. I also bought spring onions, bread and cream. I didn’t need much because I’m getting a few spring crops from the garden, such as chard, kale, radishes and lettuces.

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The sign at the entry to the farmer’s market.

The farm market sells meats, cheeses, eggs, breads and pastries, dairy products and of course, vast varieties of vegetables, herbs and garden plants. There are even stands with honey, maple syrup, and mushrooms, not to mention cut flowers.

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Good looking stuff, eh?

You could, if you didn’t care about your grocery bill, get most of what you needed there. I am pretty judicious. I can make my own bread, and often do, so I usually don’t buy it. To give you an idea, though, the asparagus, for a seven-person dinner party added up to $12. It was beautiful stuff, fresh, with that blue tinge it has when just cut, and a reasonable size, not that tasteless pencil thin stuff (Am I opinionated about my food? You bet.). Still, if I had room for an asparagus patch, I would grow my own.

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The first strawberries are also here.

The farm market is still a good bargain if I’m careful, because the produce is so fresh. Years ago, when it first came to Courthouse near where I live, it was a true bargain, with prices lower than the grocery store, what with the elimination of the middle man.

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This is where I walk into the market. There’s even a ukelele player.

To make sure I don’t have to go there for much this summer, I finished planting the garden, as the rain continued to hold off.

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It still astonishes me that live plants can be mailed. I bet these were happy to be freed from this cramped box.

On Friday I received my plants from Territorial Seed: three tomatoes, three peppers and three eggplants. They are all different varieties and I am going to see how well they do this summer. One of the eggplants is supposed to be resistant to flea beetle, which resides in my garden and turns their leaves to lace at some point each spring. The peppers are varieties that are supposed to be prolific, earlier or longer bearing. We’ll see. The tomatoes are heirloom varieties grafted onto resistant root stock. There is a fungus in the soil that makes the tomatoes turn yellow and wilt, usually pretty early in the season. Given I’d like to have more tomatoes for preserving, that has not worked well for me. I hope you have a week of good eating ahead of you!

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I harvested more lettuce and radishes, replanted radishes, and put in squash seeds.

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50 Responses to Fresh Food: Growing and Buying

  1. Gosh, Lisa, there is so much to combat in the soil of your garden. Good for you for being so proactive in sorting it out, then planting what is likely to work. I bought a soil test for one area of my garden, but I still haven’t done the test. It’s on the list. One of the advantages I have for my vegetables is raised beds with controlled soil, at least so far. I’ve heard that some of the challenges of established community gardens is the vast array of gardening techniques along with the age of the soil and the garden. You’re part gardener, part scientist and 100% committed to success. What fun to have a dinner party. I’ll bet your guests left happy and well sated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    I love perusing farmer’s markets, but as we are CSA members, we go there and visit farm stands for what they don’t offer. When I lived in Boston in the 80s, farmers markets were just starting and it was a thrill to get their fresh food. So great that cities have such a resource.

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Thanks, Eliza. I would join a CSA if I didn’t have the garden. A lot of them are still a good value for the freshness and quantity of produce.

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      • Eliza Waters says:

        They can seem pricey, but when we factor in the organic food, freshly picked that day, lack of petrol used obtaining it and supporting a local family that use only horsepower, it is definitely the way to go. We feel so blessed!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the Farmers Markets in the USA! They were always fresher AND (back then) cheaper. You could also find things that weren’t available in the big supermarkets. (Am about to harvest the first Jerusalem artichoke of the season!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was amused by your take on asparagus. It’s a perennial that used to grow behind the lakeside cabin my grandfather owned…some plants surviving as long as twenty years. And I don’t know why the fashion of those spindly pencil- thin ones started, but I suspect it’s because growers wanted to harvest young plants (for profit) before they were ready, and/or some chefs in fancy restaurants thought they made a nicer “presentation” on the plate. But you’re right….the larger ones are tastier and more tender….unlike some of the other veggies, where younger is better. I remember a young niece running off to the loo soon after a dinner that included asparagus—as a scientific experiment–because she had heard adults talking about how asparagus lends its aroma to your pee.

    Liked by 2 people

    • arlingwoman says:

      We had some asparagus when I was a child that grew along the fence back by the dog runs. I was thinking I might be able to plant some that wouldn’t take over. Perhaps I should try. I think the spindly ones were part of the baby vegetable craze that hasn’t entirely left us. Though I have to say, mini zucchini are quite delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mary Tang says:

    I planted tree asparagus plants in a trough; two survived and are now producing spears. I usually snap them off as they appear and eat them on the spot..

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am lucky, I live close to the best Farmers Market in the country and am spoiled for choice any Saturday morning I care to get up and wander along. Yours looks just as much fun! I’m wondering [and I may be way off beam here] if your garden plot could do with a big spread of natural garden manure and compost dug in at the end of the growing season to bring the soil back to health? Isn’t it amazing how those live plants are posted – and they survive the journey! I hope they all flourish and you have an abundance of tomatoes and capsicums and aubergines – yum!! I just had a flash of my garden fresh ratatouille spread over barbequed steak at the end of a long hot summer day – a memory from the 70’s I think 🙂 I’m with Cynthia on the asparagus and Mary on the trough growing. I afforded some old fashioned organically grown just once last spring and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’ve just thought to say that my tomatoes grew and produced abundantly with zero pests the year I grew petunias around them – I like to think they were excellent companions! Have a wonderful Sunday Lisa, I sat up past my bedtime last night reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Oooh, it must be nice to live close to a fabulous market. I don’t think the soil is tired, as I manure it and it is full of worms and quite a nice color. It’s just that we have certain pests here. To get rid of the fungus, Everyone in the garden would have to stop growing tomatoes for about four years. And flea beetles, well, if it’s in the ground, something will go after it. I just try to outwit whatever it is without evil chemicals…But petunias, hmm, I have always liked their look and scent. Perhaps I should plant some near the tomatoes for beauty and protection.

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      • I always planted the little french marigolds in and around the tomato patch, and they worked well to keep bugs away….

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      • Yes, I was trying to picture your soil as I saw it just over a year ago [of course after I’d posted my comment!] and it was good looking growing stuff….. I don’t know what flea beetles are, though I’m sure they must live here too. Do try the petunias – and other companions too, over the years I’ve found companion planting very helpful.

        Liked by 2 people

      • arlingwoman says:

        That’s something I don’t know much about, but as Cynthia says, marigolds are often mentioned. I need to do some research.

        Like

  7. LB says:

    One of the joys of traveling is visiting Farmer’s Markets. My town is so small, and the FM often has very few stands. When I visit Sarasota each spring, I am amazed at the magnificent FM. So much selection, so many choices! The plane flight home prohibits much buying though 🙂

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  8. Sylvie G says:

    I have also noticed here, in recent years, that markets have become more expensive. I have been trying to understand the trend, but I don’t. I still try to encourage farmers when I can, but tend to make my own food, as much as I can (pasta, bread, etc.), but do not have a garden, unfortunately.

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    • arlingwoman says:

      I think here they are charging what the market will bear; and it’s quite a lot, what with people convinced fresher is better and local is better. It is, but goodness, not $2 a pound better!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. We are fortunate in that our Ferndene Farm Shop offers farmers market quality at supermarket prices. I wish you well with your own produce, Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

  10. KerryCan says:

    What bounty, between the market and your own garden! I need to make more of an effort to get to our farmers’ market–it’s about 15 miles away and I can get pretty lazy. There will also be honor-system veggies stands along the road as the season goes on, though.

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  11. Laurie Graves says:

    Really good post. My husband and I are retired and live on a very modest budget, but we buy as much local food as we can afford. We love to support our local farmers, and besides, nothing beats the taste of fresh-picked food.

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  12. Very enjoyable post Lisa 🙂 you always make the travel bug bite 🙂

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  13. Brenda says:

    For the first time in my adult life, I have the space and climate to grow asparagus. We’re putting in several rows this week, green and purple, and I’m so excited. It will be a couple of years before harvest, but there’s nothing like asparagus right out of the ground. You are fortunate to have a farmers’ market within walking distance. Our local farmers’ market is small, but has some wonderfully unique items. Fresh local buffalo mozzarella, for example!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I just hope those plants from Territorial Seed don’t actually turn out to be territorial. I’d hate to see them getting involved in fighting each other for space. (Of course, if you had a bit of lawn, they could also engage in turf wars.)

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  15. Robbie says:

    ” tasteless pencil thin stuff..” LOL..too funny:-) I agree! I put in some purple aspargus and hoping in a few years to have more, but it is slow go for me since I don’t have a huge bed. I love our farmer market but I grow a lot of my stuff too.
    I grew onlysemi/determinate tomatoes this year and a few days ago, I decided to order a few indeterminates for I was worried my determinates would all leave me with nothing at the end of the summer.
    I totally get the flea infestation with eggplant. I grow mine in containers now and have saved seed for a few years. I read if you put clover near egg plant ( they grow them in fields of clover) it helps. I tried it and saved seed from my white casper and they are the ones I grow eacy year. I tried a purple one this year since I saved enough seed. I love egg plant-yum!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. arlingwoman says:

    Yes, I made snide remarks last week about the infantilization of the American palate. I love mature greens, and eggplant (you’d be bitter too, I say, if people said that stuff about you). I’ve planted three varieties this year–two purple and one lavender, I believe. I hope they bear well, as I like to slice them thinly, grill them and marinate them in lemon and olive oil. Yum. You can wrap those babies around cheese or meat or eat them by themselves…I must think about the clover idea. It sounds like a good one.

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  17. Maria F. says:

    Beautiful image of your lettuce and radishes!

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  18. nannygrannie says:

    Lovely harvests. I’ve started my own vegetable garden this year and am having success ready! You can read about it on my blog if you’d like. Looking forward to following you. Happy growing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. atkokosplace says:

    So much work goes into gardening. I am always learning something after realizing I am doing it all wrong! And then I say…there’s always next year! Hahaha. Farmers markets are so much fun to go to. So many neat things to see and buy! Lovely pics. Have a beautiful weekend. Koko:)

    Like

  20. reocochran says:

    I love sliced thin radishes in a vinegar and sugar mixture making the spice more like a tangy pickle, Lisa. The community market here is quite nice, also our local farmer’s market begins after Memorial Day end of May til Labor Day, end of August into September. I love fresh strawberries in a salad with popoy seed dressing! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • arlingwoman says:

      Oh, yum, Robin! I think I would like dinner at your house! I should try the vinegar/sugar thing with the radishes. I often roast or statue them with other veggies as well, but mostly I like them sliced in a salad or with bread and butter.

      Like

  21. Great post. Thank you. Farm markets: one of my favourite things.

    Like

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