Will miracles never cease? We boiled our first garden-grown potato recently! Only one, and I undercooked it, so we could only nibble it to be sure it was edible. How exciting. Well, it is for us, anyway.
We”ve started our first garden together, and it has been interesting, fun and will be, hopefully, rewarding. We planted tomatoes (lots and lots), okra, cucumbers, potatoes, scallions, sugar snap peas, squash, zucchini, lettuce, bok choy, soy beans (edamame) and various herbs. Market report so far? Well, lettuce came and went, bok choy only sort of came, tomatoes are struggling to be healthy, herbs are fair to great, and the rest is just starting.
We are doing this for several reasons. We both enjoy gardening: Terry grew up on a North Mississippi farm, and both of my parents were avid gardeners — and we really have a good time hanging out together. We don”t completely agree on methodology, but we”re learning to compromise. We have both become medium-core composters and recyclers and are learning ways to include water conservation in our lives. Gardening is a way to use these conservation methods and see your results. We are currently composting in both a tumbler bin and stationery one, and also have an area to collect leaves that break down pretty quickly for lovely, damp mulch.
Our garden is not meant to replace the Hitching Lot Farmers” Market — goodness, one potato doesn”t go far. And it won”t replace my trips to the grocery store; I am not anti-grocery store, I simply want to grow in my appreciation, preservation and protection of this land I live on. Growth is the key here. Over the three years I”ve been involved in the Hitching Lot, I”ve not only met so many interesting people, but I”ve also become acutely aware of the role that the vendors and their products can play in our lives.
Get to the market
The Market this year has had a slower start than the last few years, and I want to urge you, encourage you, badger you into coming down on Saturday morning. The weather has had a lot to do with this. Rain has hurt some crops and some things may have to be replanted. For some produce, like tomatoes, it simply isn”t the time yet. But, my word, there is music, and there are crafts, baked goods, coffee and lots of conversation. And what music it is! Blues, pop, violin, country … you can hear it all at the market. No cover. The coffee provided every Saturday morning is by a rotation of locals (Front Door, Mississippi Coffee House and Kudoz).
Oh, and the plants. George and Tony Rose are always there with a wide variety to choose from. And Mary from Palmer Home brings beautiful things from their greenhouses. There have been two to three other garden vendors this season, so I ask that you stop by the market before heading to a big box garden center.
And, a new entrepreneur started a few Saturdays ago. Emma Rose Davis, 11, is growing her own herbs and selling them picked and wrapped in lovely bundles tied with a ribbon. If you don”t want to commit to taking care of a plant yourself, you can still choose fresh over dried and go see Emma Rose at the market. I promise, you and your dining guests will appreciate the effort.
But today, I am looking with a little frustration at my 10 pitiful tomato plants valiantly trying to hold up their stems and dry their roots a tad. I am also patiently waiting for tomato season at the market. Let me repeat that — I am waiting for tomato season at the market.
I looked at two pitiful, pale, hard, flavorless slices of tomato on a sandwich downtown recently and threw them aside with disdain. As a former restaurateur, I can”t imagine even spending the money to buy these to send out on a plate to a customer. But, I know it”s expected.
Last Saturday at the Hitching Lot I heard two women discussing that there were no tomatoes and someone suggested they should just head to the “store.”
“Noooo!” I called out. “Don”t do that.” I explained that we weren”t out of tomatoes; they just aren”t quite in season yet. What to do? Well, do without right now. Summer is the perfect time to try and eat seasonally and locally.
Nuff said. The point this week is to go and see the wonderful people who are keeping our market alive. Use the Hitching Lot for gifts. There is beautiful pottery, stunning wood work and delicious baked and canned goods. This is where you can come for a gift that really does say “Columbus.”
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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