Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gardener's Pride

I am inordinately proud of my Blue Solaize leeks. I grew them from seed early last spring, and dutifully transplanted them into the lowest part of a trench along the side of my garden in early summer. As they grew taller I "blanched" them by filling the trench and then mounding dirt around them as they continued to grow. As a result I have leeks with white parts as much as good twelve inches long. A few of them still stand out in my garden even now. Because so much of their root is buried in the earth, they easily withstand the freezing temperatures we've been having.

I was amazed at the difference when we shopped for ingredients while visiting family for Thanksgiving. Even though I was able to buy organic leeks, the white parts were a measly five inches long, at most. It really struck me then, how well we eat. One of my leeks is the equivalent of two and a half to three store bought leeks. And it doesn't get any fresher than vegetables pulled from the ground or plucked from the vine in our own backyard. Including homegrown vegetables as integral parts of our Christmas feast was a huge thrill for me.

I am reminded more and more frequently of the personal recollections of those who lived through the Great Depression. Many, if not most, of those who lived in rural agricultural communities declared, "We were poor, but we never knew it." Or, "we didn't have any cash, but we always ate well." Since expanding our garden and adhering to my self-imposed $50 monthly grocery challenge over the summer months, we have eaten better than ever. I look at my homegrown leeks and I realize that I would be hard pressed to buy such quality at any price. We eat the highest quality food for the lowest possible price. And I'm consistently astounded at the aesthetic beauty of these leeks, once all the dirt is cleaned off.

All these things make it very easy to find the motivation to plan another garden for next year. Like every gardener, I harbor the conviction that next year's garden will be even better than this year's.


Anonymous said...

Leeks DO make a person feel rich, don't they? Congratulations on your lovely harvest. I really love them too, and this was the first year I grew that variety (I usually grow Lancelots) and they turned out quite well. Time to think spring!

(Kim, I know what you mean about the food situation at home. Whenever we have to go somewhere we know we're in for some intestinal distress for eating OPF (Other People's Food) "off the reservation." That sounds so horrible but it's pretty much true. Processed food wimps!)

Anonymous said...

Geez, every time I visit family I am "plugged up" for the duration, with all the packaged processed meals. If we stay long, I always volunteer to cook so I can at least make something with an abundance of veggies and fiber.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate! They look like great leaks. I bet they were delicious. We grew leaks here over winter, but they're still going now. We have a year long growing season. We chop off most of the white and leave about 1.5 inches of white and the roots in the ground, and they grow again!

You're right in that a successful garden and enjoying your own food really gives you the inspiration to do it all again next year.

Kate said...

Thanks, El. I already had a decent start on food snobbery, and becoming more serious about producing my own food has only made it worse.

Jessica, I know exactly what you mean. About half of my family eats "real" food and knows how to cook. The other half eats the processed crapola. And yes, it's very hard to visit with them and be gracious about it. I too offer to cook as much as possible. I'm convinced my tenacious chest cold this month is a result of air travel and poor eating over Thanksgiving.

Rhonda Jean, I must try that trick if we have any leeks left when spring rolls around. Somehow I think it's unlikely. But as you say, there's always next year's garden.