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Well-organized gardeners are always ready when the frost hits. Their basil has all been turned into pesto, their tomatoes are now tomato sauce. Good gardeners are well into the job of dressing the emptied beds with compost. Then there are the…

Nobody ever told me that farming was a glamorous way of life, and it’s just as well. At my first farm job, I supervised a field of rotting tomatoes. We were growing them for the preservation of their seeds, to be sold to Johnny’s Selected. Ea…

Fresh annual herbs and summer dishes go together — dill with cucumbers and yogurt, cilantro in salsas, chervil in creamy soups. But it’s hard to keep them productive. In hot weather they quickly go to flower, leaving barely enough foliage to …

It didn’t make the front page, but sometime toward the end of the second millennium, basil replaced parsley as America’s most popular herb. Much of the thanks goes to pesto, the gloriously green Italian pasta sauce that set the nation’s food …

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The “hungry gap”, between the end of storage crops and the summer food avalanche, is well behind us. The problem now is what to do with all those vegetables. Sometimes this is easy: storing spring beets in the fridge, cooking down extra spinach into a creamy purée, freezing the peas and bean…

Gardeners are good at nurturing, but it is a quality that some must work to restrain. For a friend of mine, this is especially true of thinning, not because it’s tedious (though by the end of a long carrot row it is) but because she hates to kill any seedling she has sown. Crowded, struggling, …

Big, bland and boring. That’s the typical modern strawberry. Firm-fleshed for easy shipping, it offers little excitement. No wonder people dip it in chocolate. Compare it to a home-grown berry and it will be disappointing. Sample a tiny wild strawberry, smaller than a pea, or the slightly la…

Ron is frantic. His urban cat has a perfectly good litter box but prefers to use the pots and planters on the sunny windowsill where Ron is trying to grow herbs. It’s only natural that his pet should prefer natural earth to the bagged imitation. Cats’ natural instinct is to bury their droppi…

Can taste buds have spring fever? Most gardeners have caught what Emily Dickinson called “A Little Madness in the Spring.” They’re salivating over catalog descriptions of juicy tomatoes and melons as their windowsills overflow with seedlings.…

“I ignore what the books say,” my friend huffed. “If I planted my vegetables as far apart as I’m supposed to, they’d be in my neighbor’s yard.” I know what she means. In today’s small gardens the old guidelines don’t apply. If we had to grow …

The saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But why not a cherry? Or a plum? Maybe because in the old days, apples were one of the few homegrown foods you could eat fresh all winter. A cellar full of long-keepers supplied you wit…

One of the most important crops of all time is one you’ve never eaten. It’s the strange, inedible gourd, one of the first plants ever cultivated, and grown worldwide. Inedible it may be, but it’s a kitchen in itself. When mature it develops a…

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