Rainbow Salad and succession planting.

I don’t fault anyone who is scared of or scarred from eating beets as a child. I don’t recall ever being forced to eat one, but I must’ve bravely tried one because I’ll never forget the dirty taste. And soft! Who would eat a soft, pickled vegetable?! (Not talking about you, cucumbers, you crisp little loves!)

This year I sowed half a packet of beets next to the rutabagas. I only eat them one way—raw, shredded, and mixed with the lovely sweet, crunchy flavors of green apple and carrot. Today I dressed it with lime juice and a few petals of calendula. Rainbow salad! My kids haven’t fallen in love with beets, but we are eating them and having lots of fun doing it.

Our other garden recipe du jour is of the Hidden Valley variety. I told the kids about this restaurant that got famous for its salad dressing and they didn’t believe me. Who knows, maybe I just made it up. We chopped up parsley, dill, basil, and onion tops into some sour cream and added garlic powder, salt and pepper. I’m wishing I’d planted thyme and rosemary—I guess I still can!
These little recipes with beets and sour cream-topped fried potatoes go perfectly with the book Joe and I are reading right now about the royal Romanovs. All we are missing is tea and black bread and the exile to Siberia.

I wasn’t a big reader of gardening books till we moved back from Colorado, probably because my growing season their was very microclimate-limited and touchy. There wasn’t time for books—we hit the finally-thawed ground running. It was an experiment in will it grow? Here I think more along the lines of, how many times can I plant and harvest? Really, I take out a seed packet every time I weed or discard old, buggy broccoli plants and the like. I’ve stopped trying to record my sowing and harvesting days. Every time there is a new space, I put a seed in it. After I’ve gotten a few summer squash off a plant, I start a new plant alongside it to sprout so I can remove the old one before the bugs show up.

New bush beans to take the place of the old ones.

Coincidentally, I’ve come across this idea of succession planting and the “bounty gardener”—stretching seasons to grow and produce a maximum harvest. Why, growing up, did everyone plant their garden and let it go all to heck mid-July? (Certainly because it’s a way to celebrate the end of winter and the miracle of summer.)
Why is everyone trying to get rid of cucumbers and zucchini and tomatoes by the barrel full? (See answer to former question.)
But it does make sense to plant a little now, a little later. Who knew it was worth writing books about. It’s one of those sneaking suspicions you have but can’t articulate, then someone smarter than you does what you couldn’t.

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