I say it every year:
This time, I’ll keep a notebook all the way through the last harvest.
I’m not going to say that right now. I’ll just begin, because even though it’s snowing today, the work has begun.
For several Springs, we’ve hesitated on a tree order. It’s a big commitment. It means that we expect to stay here a while, or that we’ll do grand things to transform this land, and may not be around when the fruits of our labor one day appear. But, we’re in this for more than just our personal rewards. Every year, we have made the tiniest of baby steps in transforming the eroding, muddy hillsides of our wee plot into what we hope will be a flourishing food forest someday. This year, it feels already as though we’ve taken a great leap.
We transplanted berries that had been suffering, and gave them more sun and some new friends to hang out with. We planted cranberries (!!!!!!) and willows in the wettest of the wetlands, and a pie cherry tree in the most perfect place ever (in ten years). Lavender, tarragon, oh and dahlias into the place where the Jerusalem artichokes were literally choking out everything else. Now, the latter have their own bed.
All this on a gorgeous sunny weekend, and tonight it will be 25 degrees.
It still felt safe to sow peas, though, if not any other seeds, and when I started to prepare the bed, the scuffle hoe caught on something. It turned out the entire bed was filled with forgotten parsnips! Our first harvest of the year! If you’re wondering how I could forget about an entire bed of parsnips, I have this to say in my defense: we had a tremendous deer problem last summer. They came through and ate all the tops from the parsnips when they were young, down to the ground, along with almost everything else in that section of the garden. I gave them up because I figured they wouldn’t be much bigger than fingers, if they had a chance to grow at all, since the tops had only barely begun to re-sprout when winter came. And now, I have a five-gallon bucket’s worth of root candy.
Oh, the sweetness of over-wintered roots! Unbelievable.
It gives me such hope for the growing season to come.
Here’s a quick and lovely thing to do with parsnips:
- Peel and slice whatever quantity suits your needs, and put the sliced parsnips in a wide skillet
- Add about a tablespoon of butter per cup of sliced parsnips, and water to cover
- Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the parsnips are tender
- Add salt and pepper to taste, some minced swiss chard and parsley, and simmer another 5 minutes, or until your greens are wilted. If your parsnips aren’t candy-sweet, you can add a bit of honey with the water and butter, and it will caramelize to fantastic effect.
Oh, and there’s this:
And, when the mist departs mid-morning, the forest is aglow with red budding maples.