Today we went on a trip to Eva's Garden in Dartmouth, MA. The idea was to lay down old coffee bean bags on the pathways and then cover them with mulch.....but the cold, wind, and spitting clouds had other ideas and the kids only wanted their "snack".
Eva grows lots and lots of herbs and greens etcetera to supply area restaurants, so the suggestion was made to bring bagels and cream cheese along and we could pick some herbs to flavor our snack. So of course, all the kids just wanted their bagels and touring the gardens with the head gardener and doing some shoveling wasn't high on their list. I snapped some pictures of the trellising in the beds, the wire trellis is a larger (taller) version of what I was planning to do for my cucurbits this year in my own garden. The pea rows were just perfect, maybe I can strive for something similar next year....if I could find some lovely trimmed branches that is! ***Edit: I should add the beds shown here are part of the "kitchen garden", not the commercial side of things.***
I was planning on running a bridge of metal fencing between beds, only I was visualizing something much lower, 3 feet high maybe. Then I was thinking I could grow some cut and come again lettuce underneath in the shade. But now I am realizing there is no reason not to make the trellis taller, the vines will certainly run.
The other neat idea that came about today was the suggestion to grow pea greens indoors in early winter under lights as an alternate to spinach or other greens. We were talking about all season harvesting and I have come to the conclusion that I would rather just grow it indoors under some shop lights, and pea greens are just delicious......Peter, the head gardener at Eva's recommended filling a tray with peat, then the peas and topping of saw dust. Here is a photo of the pea shoots they have growing in one of the greenhouses:
They were so sweet and tasty! I asked if there was a variety they preferred and he said Dwarf Gray. I may have a new pea to try when my current stash runs low. We also pulled some runners of different mints out of the pathways to bring home and grow, I have some Chocolate Mint, Ginger Mint, and good old fashioned Mint stuck in some buckets of compost, I hope they take.
As for the bagels I herbed my cream cheese with Garlic Chives and Sage, it was quite good. Peter also was so kind as to allow me to sample is oat milk that he makes, and I actually did like it. Eva sent our friend who coordinated the visit home with some cut flowers for us, and an offer to "pick anything there was a lot of" for eating. We hope to go back soon and get a bit more 'work' done next time around, though it was a fabulous introduction to the gardens for me today....I can not wait to go back!!!!
(Here are some paragraphs taken from a NY Times article published back in September of 2000:)
This Time It's Small Farms To the Rescue
By MARIAN BURROS
Published: September 27, 2000
WESTPORT, Mass.— TO most outsiders, the southeastern coast of New England is a stretch of tranquil countryside, a blur of old stone fences and shady country roads on the way to Cape Cod. A place where ospreys nest along the tidal Westport River, and where black and white cows graze in pastures all the way down to the shoreline.
But the region is also blessed with the longest growing season in all of New England and a sunny temperate climate like that of northern France. And like that part of France, it is the source for oysters so fine they are sold by name, and wines that are served in some of the leading restaurants in Boston and New York. One of the best American blue cheeses is made here, not far from centuries-old apple orchards and farms that are experimenting with cutting-edge technology in fish farming.
All of the region's exceptional bounty is the result of hand labor on the kind of small farms that were on the verge of disappearing just a few years ago. Like other small farms around the country, they are being rescued by agricultural artisans who have learned to offer the quality that satisfies a more appreciative and sophisticated America. Sommaripa, a former potter, is considered the most successful farmer in the area -- even though she tills all of two acres. Her amazingly fragrant herbs are cut to order for some of Boston's top chefs.
Her business, Eva's Garden, has been growing organic herbs for more than 20 years in Dartmouth, including basil that you cannot resist the temptation to pluck and rub between your fingers. Not content to grow the ordinary, Ms. Sommaripa has recently leased some additional land to experiment with growing herbs in high shade in the forest.
''A lot of chefs have our name on their menus, so a lot of people come to visit,'' Ms. Sommaripa said. ''There is a basic satisfaction feeling connected to the earth and the source of your sustenance.''
Chris Schlesinger, a chef and an occasional contributor to the Dining Section, is one of the few local representatives of the restaurant side of the farm-chef equation. His Westport restaurant, the Back Eddy, features local ingredients. ''Right now, there are just baby steps between chefs and growers,'' he said. ''Other than Eva's Garden, no growers are being asked to grow for chefs, but we are starting and that's the break. That's the critical mass.''
This is such a great concept, I hope it becomes more common. When you eat food that is locally grown you can taste the difference, and it worth paying for!