Return to Market

By fallspark, April 10th, 2011 | No Comments »

This is the time of year I begin daily walks around my yard, looking under sodden piles of last November’s leaf debris, poking around the inside of my clematis vines and checking under dried foliage for a glimpse of pale green, anything to indicate crowning hosts or other signs of life.  Although I am tempted to clean all of this away, I’ll leave the old tendrils in place for a few weeks yet for insulation, in case we get a late cold snap.  I’ll start a few of the cold weather crops on the south-facing garden plot that runs the length of my back fence, peas, of course, and sow some lettuce seed.  The fact that I can get out and into the yard has me itching to get moving, get a head start on the season’s heavy work while the weather is comfortably cool. 

As if overnight, the spring bulbs I planted last autumn are poking through the warming soil, and daffodils are beginning to fill in around my backyard aspen tree.  Each year I forget I have them there, and each April I am delighted at the return of these old friends.  The rhubarb clump behind my fence is already leafing out, and those lucky enough to have cultivated a nice asparagus patch will soon have tender, early spears.

 I am no so lucky with asparagus, however, and this is one of the early treats I’ll look for on the Market’s opening day, which is May 7th this year.  Hungry for something spring-like, I caved in and bought a bundle at the supermarket a few weeks back, and even though the spears looked pencil thin, they were still fibrous and kind of inedible, except for the tender buds.  One just cannot push the season.  In addition to the asparagus and radishes, I’ll also have an eye open for rhubarb that first week.  Other vendors will have fresh baked goods, honey and jams, eggs and of course, lovely meats.  There should be bedding plants and herbs, a nice array of cut flowers and flowering plants, geraniums, roses and potted lilies. 

As have many home garden enthusiasts, I’ve spent the past few months perusing garden web sites, checking out the new varieties of flowering perennials, plotting stuff out on graph paper, even coloring some of them in, my garden magazines all earmarked and full of post it notes.  I’ll put the tomatoes where the peppers were last year, put the peppers in pots with marigolds and a few herbs, and grow pole beans and pickling cucumbers up the new lattices I bought on clearance back in October.  I’m a woman with a plan.  But will the peppers do well if grown in pots?  I heard somewhere they would, if given additional feeding throughout the growing season.  I’d like to try growing potatoes in large pots as well, but what is the best way to store them?  Or, can this even be done within the confines of a fairly modern home?   

I look forward to the market’s opening, for whom better to ask these question of than a local produce grower?  I anticipate the ongoing conversation with other home gardeners I run into, talking about what worked for me last year, asking if they’ve tried this, ever done that.  The conversation is endless, and if you love to try your hand at growing things, it never loses its fascination.  So the market becomes more than just a place to buy fresh produce; in its evolution, we now have a return to something very close to what our American marketplace used to be, a place to meet your neighbors, swap ideas, and purchase those things you cannot grow yourself.  It’s a place to socialize; exchange stories an pick up some new recipes.  With all the solid rhetoric about buying local, about promoting sustainability, it makes sense to re-visit those ways that worked for our grandparents at a time when there was no alternative.  It seems we’ve come full circle.  To this writer, that feels good. 

As a new friend of the Falls Park farmers market, I am happy to mention that throughout the seasons the market will be welcoming volunteers from the Master Gardeners program, as well as those outside the program who just love to talk about gardening.  I look forward to an ongoing forum of idea exchanges and hope to meet you there.     (Georgia Totten, Sioux Falls) 

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