Friday, January 21, 2011

Thursdays, “The Cook’s Garden,” and Real “Garden Cred”

Thursdays are a special day of the week in my garden universe, because, summer or winter, that is the day Barbara Damrosch’s weekly column, “The Cook’s Garden,” is published in the Washington Post. I know, I must be a garden writing fanatic to look forward to a weekly garden column!  But Barbara Damrosch’s articles are always thought-provoking, useful, and well-written, and like many of the garden writers I read on a regular basis, they speak to that part of me that yearns for a grown-up garden. I may be gardening right now on a 10’x20’ urban community garden plot in Brooklyn, but some day I can dream of the space to indulge in the many unusual and wonderfully described vegetables that Damrosch features in her column. And when she goes on a rant about a gardening or environmental issue, it is usually about an issue I feel strongly about as well.

Damrosch has real “street cred.” (Or can we talk instead of “garden cred?”) She is the author of the best-selling The Garden Primer, now in its second edition . This is a great book – very comprehensive, with quirky wisdom informed by a commitment to organic growing and reflecting a  strong understanding that gardening is something one does. Gardening for Damrosch is not just something she does, but is integrally connected to her lifestyle choices and her attitude towards the world around her. And it is full of incredibly useful advice, administered with humor and a sense of perspective. Also, Damrosch is married to Eliot Coleman, and together they run the experimental market garden Four Seasons Farm in Maine. If you haven’t looked into Coleman’s books on organic vegetable gardening/farming, particularly his book on four season growing, you are missing out. Together Damrosch and Coleman grow and sell a huge variety of vegetables year-round, and then show amazing generosity by sharing their experiences with others.

So today’s article? Well, it is seed-ordering time. We all know what this annual seed-induced craze feels like. I am succumbing to the fever along with everyone else! (Soon I shall be posting about my own seed orders, seed-starting schedules, and favorite seed sources.) Damrosch joins in the deluge of recommendations with some of her new “must haves” from a wide range of seed companies. Again, this is bittersweet for me, since I don’t have room to grow most of these things. I can only dream of melons and corn right now. But maybe the “Midnight Ruffles” lettuce. And I have to check out this new broccoli-kale cross from Burpee, “Brokali.” 

But I so recommend doing a wider search and reading some of Damrosch’s back articles from the Post, all of which are still available online. If you are into vegetable growing, there are years and years of great advice and great garden writing to explore!