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One benefit of neglecting your garden, especially in winter, is that you might find a surprise if you bother to visit it—such as this lovely rose-like head of chicory (radicchio). I left it alone rather than harvest leaves for salads so I could grow a whole head. Torrential downpours followed by an extended cold snap all but destroyed the plants.
Then, a warm dry(ish) day lured me into the garden, which I had been avoiding because I have yet to remove the last of the tomato plants! The chicory bounced back with splashes of fuschia painted on the leaves. I also discovered so many scallions, I had to force some onto a friend.
This variety—Castelfranco variegata—hails from the Veneto region in northern Italy. There’s a ghostly white variety, too. Its flavor is enhanced by cold weather, like many hearty winter greens. You can buy seeds from Nichol’s, a local Oregon nursery but they’re currently sold out. Who knew it was so popular? Read the rest of this entry »
To spend a quarter of December in Peoria, IL, called for extreme measures. Peoria might have an excuse in winter when it comes to fresh local produce. But from my casual observation, finding locally grown (and human-edible) produce is a challenge. The rich dirt of the vast surrounding farmland is home only to corn used for cattle feed and Twinkies. Rumor had it that a new gourmet market opened. I’d believe it when I saw it. But while an expensive gourmet market might offer better-looking organic produce than the limp bundles of kale at Kroger, it doesn’t address the problem of how little local land is used around the country to grow food for people who live there.