Green Shoots…

Well, thoughts of green shoots anyway.

The snow’s been piling up this February.  A month ago I thought I might have to build an ark with the warm temps and pouring rain.  But the past couple of weeks we’ve been getting totally dumped on with beautiful, fluffy, fabulous snow.  I love snow – there’s no secret.

But as I’ve watched the food prices rise, and read the news stories about the impending increases to continue – due to everything from freak freezes in Mexico to flooding in Australia to ethanol production taking up our corn production – I’ve started really thinking about what I need to plant in this year’s garden.  Western Montana is still more than three months off until we can start planing, but on these days when I’m not skiing, I have to think about something.  So might as well think about gardening…

I’m planning to spend a bulk of my garden space on produce that can be canned, dehydrated, or stored in some manner that doesn’t require the fridge or freezer.  (That’s pretty much canned or dehydrated, huh?  Oh, I guess and some remedial root cellaring…)  I can toss some lettuce seeds in some planters, or in the corners of the garden, but shy of letting it go to seed there’s not much long-term storage use out of lettuce.  I do want to grow some so I can munch on it, but it’s not my top priority.

My initial list, which may evolve before I get to planting time, includes:

  • Potatoes (yukon gold and some reds)
  • Tomatoes (I’m dying for some green zebras, along with some regular old tomatoes)
  • Onions (white, red and spanish yellow)
  • Garlic (although, I’m not sure if it’ll have enough time to mature before fall freeze hits.)
  • Carrots (solar yellows, reds and regular old orange ones)
  • Peppers (mostly hot peppers – not a big fan of bells)
  • Green Beans (and yellow wax, too)
  • Radishes (although, I’m not sure how to preserve those… some research will be done on that)
  • And some random herbs like basil and mint and dill, and probably a few other things.

I know one of the most obvious things missing from the list is zucchini.  After all, out here in western Montana we can beat back the black bears with a good specimen.  But the main reason is because I end up with more zucchini every fall than I can use… and it all comes from other gardens.  If you grow zucchini, you end up lousy with zucchini, and pawning it off on any willing neighbor.  I might toss in one or two plants, but like the lettuce, it’s not high on my priority list.

After last year’s bad fruit year, I’m really hoping my pear and apple trees produce well this year.  We had a bad huckleberry year last year, too.  So I have high hopes for foraging a good harvest of hucks for more jam.  You really can’t ever have enough huckleberry jam on hand.   The other thing I need to do is find someone with good plum trees.  We don’t have any plum trees here on the ranch, and there’s nothing quite as good to snack on than dehydrated plums.  Mmmmmmm – yummy!  🙂

So even though the snow is piled high, and the weatherman’s calling for daytime highs in the teens this week, green shoots and canning jars are definitely on my mind.  I still have two chickens left in the freezer that need to be made into soup and jarred up for the pantry – but I’m really dying to get some dirt under my nails…

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