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When I met Patrick just after arriving at college,  I never would have imagined we would have so many common interests after nearly 30-years together.  It turns out that we both come from a long lineage of farmers on our maternal side.  Looks like we can’t escape the farming instinct.  Must run deep in our genes.

Our yard at home is shaded, so we don’t have a lot of space to grow vegetables.  We do have a beautiful garden filled with native perennials.  This will certainly be the topic of a future post.  Three years ago, we decided to rent a community garden plot (30′ x 30′) at a nearby living history farm operated by the park district.  Each year, we experiment with new plants and growing strategies.  Last year was rough.  It was cold, then it was dry, the weeds grew better than the vegetables, and after a measly reward of just a few cucumbers and tomatoes (I might be exaggerating a little bit) following a lot of hard, sweaty, summer work (NOT exaggerating) we almost packed up the farming tools and tomato cages for good.

So happy we didn’t!  This year has been perfect with just the right amount of sunshine and rain.  This winter, I’m thinking I might actually check into ‘The Farmers’ Almanac’ to see what that’s all about.

We are growing carrots, beets, radishes, onions, leeks, lettuce and spinach on raised rows.   In the flat area, we are growing broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, eggplant, and herbs.  I’m sure I missed something!  This year, we filled all of the open space with a thick layer of hay.  This seems to be helping with the weeds.  Fewer weeds and those that do manage to grow are weak and easy to pluck.  The hay also helps retain moisture.  This is important in minimizing watering trips to the farm during the crazy work week.

With so many fresh veggies, it’s hard not to eat healthy.  After working at the farm Sunday, we enjoyed a nice BBQ on the patio with sausage from a local market, delicious olives with rosemary and lemon from Costco, cherries, and a wonderful salad prepared using lettuce and early cucumbers from the farm.  I also threw in some fresh mozzarella and tossed it all with a little lemon olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Al Fresco dining at it’s best!  What a great way to end a nice weekend.  Can’t wait to see what we find at the farm next weekend.

take care!

Laura

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