Each morning I walk down to the lake to look for spring. The calendar may say it is spring but until my purple crocuses bloom, it's winter. Weeping willows are the first trees to come to life at the lake but the flowering bulbs are the true harbinger of spring in New York. I come from North Carolina farming people and about this time they are preparing the soil for pole bean, tomatoes and cucumbers. I want to head outside to start my spring garden but the soil is hard and the threat of a freeze still lingers.
When spring does arrive, the flora and fauna come to life at breath taking speed. The ground cracks open as the tulips and daffodils push towards the sun. Spring in the lower Hudson Valley is a spectacular show of life and color. When I first moved here I planted tomatoes along the fence by the lake. We had a ton of tomatoes and I felt like Ms. Green Jeans but curiously the next season not so good. What I discovered was the "soil" was only a thin layer on top of mammoth boulders. Do you remember in the Ice Age movie when layers of the earth's crust were pushed up to form a line of steep cliffs? That was New York in the movie. Dig down two feet in our yard and you will hit rock. Kind of like gardening in Florida, dig down two feet and you hit water. So I am learning how to garden in pots and contemplating putting in some raised beds.
This year I am going to experiment with a couple of new plants. The first is buckwheat. Buckwheat is said to be an excellent ground cover and helps keep weeds in check. If you are so inclined, you can harvest the grain for use in your kitchen. I learned from Lynne Rossetto Kasper all about buckwheat. She talked to Sean Brock on her show Splendid Table about how to use buckwheat. Sean is chef and partner at Husk and McCrady's in Charleston, South; he suggested using buckwheat as a dessert?! Have you been to his restaurant? I would love a first hand report on his buckwheat dessert.
Next I am working on an herb garden. I've had a bit of luck growing a couple varieties of lavender and I have my fingers crossed that the heavy snow season didn't damage my plants. I would like to add some licorice and lemon balm to my herb garden along with my sage and other traditional herbs. The only hold up is the arrival of spring. I'd love to hear what you are growing in your garden? Do you garden for beauty, taste or both?