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The snow-on-veggies effect…

Snow on parsnips

The sun was out today, and although it wasn’t too warm (about 5°C/40°F), most of yesterday’s snow melted off pretty quickly. On the remaining crops—brassicas, carrots, some herbs, and parsnips (above)—the brief overnight blanketing of snow did what several nights of sub-zero weather hadn’t managed, wilting them down without killing them off. It’s interesting to watch the accumulating effects of cold on hardy crops. Tastes and textures change, different veggies behave…differently. I don’t imagine this is somethig that veggie growers and gardeners generally explore as the season ends: crops are harvested or tilled under, and that’s that. Here, though, there is no giant cooler for long-term cold storage, and I try not to waste, so the field is the best place to hold crops as people continue to drop by for the last of the season’s fresh veg! Meanwhile, it’s cool to watch the cold effects and learn…



  1. I think there is a whole world of low-tec, low-energy storage for us to re-discover along with the difference it produces in the crops and following on from that the different dishes that then suit them.

    The photos of the field have been lovely to see during the year – I find it amazing how fast the seasons have turned even with the endless days of summer.


  2. Deborah: Here we only have about a 6 month outdoor growing season on the outside, and only about 4 months frost-to-frost, so it’s kinda impossible to rely mainly on fresh veg from the garden. I want to do so much more towards a year-round local food, and there are tons of possibilities…

    And you’re right, we don’t pay much real attention to ingredients. We usually think in terms of recipes, but it seems so obvious when you think about it that preparing food starts with an intimate knowledge of individual ingredients, how they change with growing conditions over the season, at different stages of maturity, and in basic home storage.

    A couple of years ago, I listened to a radio interview with an organic farmer/writer (pretty sure it was Michael Abelman), discussing a book he wrote about his tour of tiny farming and artisinal food processing and cooking around the US. The one story that’s stuck with me was his description of a most memorable meal, a simple plate of rib tips and collard greens, served out of trailer home in a really poor southern county, by farmers growing on tiny plots. As he described it, these farmers were so lovingly and expertly familiar with their limited ingredients that their simple preparation produced a perfect meal, even compared wih high end meals by big organic chefs in top restaurants. It’s a romantic idea, and it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! :)

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