Photo by Carol Ann Sayle
Cool, damp weather makes me hungry. Maybe that's Nature's way of plumping us up for a hard winter. Who knows? That idea would likely be shelved as an irrelevant wives' tale, as we are told that "anecdotal wisdom" isn't "sound science." Whatever that is.
So it was fortuitous that for the past two markets, Andrea, our first employee--she started working for us in 1995--made cheese and chili tamales, Mexican comfort food, for our farm stand customers. Since we turn over the total earnings to her, she always makes us some too. Alas, I think I can attribute the resulting consumption to the three extra pounds I need to banish.
And this morning, with yesterday's all-day gentle rain making any soil work impossible, I fell back to the one task which is perfect to do when the soil is wet: energetic bend-over weeding.
In a bed close to the English peas, scorzonera and parsnips are up. The scorzonera, its thin grassy leaves waving a tentative celebration of emergence, had a few too many companion plants, which are also harbingers of the new season. Hen bit in particular, sporting its first serrated true leaves, crowded around the preferred crops, thus I picked out the seedlings with two glove-less fingers in order that no harm would be done to the more elite crops. Hen bit is edible (witness its name), but it's too "fuzzy" for our palate, and it's not really a particular favorite of our elitist hens either--they prefer our kale and spinach and likely would love to snip off the scorzonera, food snobs that they are! So we treat hen bit, Nature's winter cover crop, as a rather benign weed (never knowing when we'll have to eat it!) Nature, in all her anecdotal brilliance, abhors bare soil, but our crops, so delicate when young, cannot tolerate the competition. Eventually hen bit will rejoin the scorzonera, parsnips and peas, and we'll let it be, as those crops will then be growing tall enough to survive without further coddling.