I remember way back in the olden days… around the turn of this century… when a farmer lived by the seasons. We had planting season, summer, harvest time, and winter. The winter seemed to last forever, probably because we weren’t used to not being pulled in a million different directions at once. It was a foreign concept, but certainly welcomed after the long year behind us.
Winters were a time of lounging with a cup of coffee and the paper or snuggling with the cat in front of the wood stove. Winter was when we caught up on bookkeeping or tractor repairs or interior (and sometimes exterior, if the weather wasn’t too bad) clean-up. It was a time to make plans for the spring and summer ahead.
We don’t have that luxury anymore. Unfortunately, we have to put in more and longer hours in the off season than ever before. I shouldn’t even use the term ‘off season’ because it’s hardly that. We have to plan for as many on-farm events and CSA / Farm Share pick-ups as we can because outdoor farm markets only stay open for so long in most areas, and even if they are open, they are rarely well-attended.
Funny how that works. The bills still need to be paid even if we aren’t bringing in any money! Darn that phone bill <electric bill, car insurance, TAXES of all kinds>! It’s a royal pain in the patootie having to budget for 12 months when you only have income 8 months out of the year, but I have to admit, and please no one tell my parents this, it was a very valuable lesson to learn.
So, in light of this information, it probably makes a lot more sense to you when I talk about our preseason plant sale. We had to figure out a way to get some money coming in to pay for things like seeds and soil amendments and the labor needed to plant things to be ready for summer harvest.
We started growing herbs in small pots several years ago to start off our season with something to sell. If we had to wait until crops had grown outdoors, well, we’d still be waiting. We’re coming off a deep-freeze winter and there was no way we were going to get out to plant in the fields. We’d have to rely on our limited amount of greenhouse acreage and the lack of adequate growing warmth and sunshine wouldn’t allow us to grow much in there anyway.
One of my favorite things to do is discuss food and cooking with our customers. It’s my life, really, from seed to supper and everything in between. As much as people like growing their own herbs, they don’t always know how to use them… so I help them! In addition to instructing customers in choosing plants and growing an herb garden, I aid them in the kitchen as well. Hence, this Kitchen Cheat Sheet!
Print it out, post it on the fridge, and get cooking! I hope it encourages you to try some unfamiliar herbs and helps you create some amazing dishes. Of course, if you have any herb garden questions, feel free to comment and ask away!