Sunday, June 21, 2015

Gardeners' Holidays 2015: Cornucopia

Well, here it is, the official first day of summer (although the weather has been summery for nearly a month now), and we are celebrating with a box of goodies from the CSA that Brian's coworker was nice enough to let us pick up in her absence. Her subscription entitles her to a half-bushel share rather than a full bushel, so this morning we picked up a small box containing:
  • 1 head of red leaf lettuce
  • 1 smallish head of cabbage
  • 1 bunch of arugula
  • 1 bunch of some other leafy greens that we aren't sure about—maybe some sort of chard?
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 3 garlic scapes
  • 1 half-pint of blueberries
This bounty will be the foundation of our local produce challenge, the only one of the recent Bankrate savings challenges I've seen fit to try out for a full week. The veggies, eked out by what's in our garden right now, should be more than sufficient to get us through the week, but that one little cup of blueberries definitely isn't going to be enough fruit. The plums on our trees aren't ready to eat yet; although some of them are starting to turn red and fall off the trees, they're still rock-hard and no bigger than a large grape. And today Brian tasted one and confirmed that it was really, really sour—though at least it had an identifiable plum flavor.

So, in order to get through the week eating only seasonal, local produce, we'll have to find some other source of local fruit. We could probably find something bearing the "Jersey Fresh" label at the supermarket, but as I noted last week, New Jersey fruit isn't necessarily more sustainable than something shipped from California unless it's organic as well. So I'll have to pick and choose based on what I know to be sustainable. I feel pretty confident about buying local blueberries, because I know that they're really, really easy to grow in New Jersey; my parents had a hedge of blueberry bushes when I was growing up, and we could go out there every weekend and pick them by the quart. So if I can't find any local, organic peaches or nectarines, I guess I can always stick to blueberries for the rest of the week.

Ironically, with all this wealth of veggies in the fridge to choose from, we're not actually going to be cooking anything at all tonight, because we're having dinner with my parents. But that's okay as far as the challenge goes, because my dad told me he's planning to make pasta with grilled veggies and chicken—and the veggies in question are fresh from his own garden, which is definitely local and organic. And if there's any chance he won't have enough, we can always bring him one of our zucchini as a Father's Day gift. (Our zucchini plants are already starting to produce their first little tender fruits, so there's basically no risk that we'll run short during the week.)

I'll try to fill you in on the local produce challenge as it unfolds, and if I can't get to it during the week, I'll at least give you an update on the outcome next weekend. Until then, happy summer!
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