When you grow your own food, you are—by its very nature—eating with the seasons. Even if you don’t garden, use the seasons as your backdrop!
Eating foods in season just makes sense. Food is at its freshest, tastes the best, is most affordable, and has the most nutritious value.
Growing what you eat
When you actually grow what you eat, it’s a little different …
My daughter Molly and her husband recently visited for a long weekend. On the day they arrived, I laid out my usual late-summer spread: flatbreads, bowls and platters of tomatoes, peppers, fresh cucumber pickles, various fresh salad greens, cold steamed broccoli, accompanied by several spreads, dressings, and dips, a nice hummus, seasoned black beans, chickpeas, sliced cheeses and smoked turkey. For dessert: a large platter of watermelon and cantaloupe slices.
I thought the table, with its homegrown vegetables, fruits, and centerpiece of sunflowers, looked gorgeous, and the food especially delicious. So did everyone else.
Since I had the same fresh stuff available in great abundance, I laid out pretty much the same spread later in the day which prompted daughter to say, “Are we having the same stuff again, Mom?” “Well, umm, yes we are, and it will taste just as yummy as it did before. Don’t you remember growing up here?” We all had a good chuckle.
A Guide for Eating Seasonally
This is a condensed schedule of how we eat:
- In spring, we start by planting the cold-hardy crops and the first vegetables of the season are the steamed asparagus. Then we are planting, transplanting, and weeding. We also feast on strawberries, peas, and fresh salad greens of spring!
- In summer, we struggle to keep up with the weeding, watering, and succession planting. We harvest our garlic and hang it to dry. All July long we revel in (eating and freezing) fresh raspberries and broccoli, soon followed by blueberries, green beans and summer squash. Every day, all month long. We harvest bushels of onions and hang them to let the tops dry back so we can tuck them away in the cellar, hopefully to keep until the next summer’s harvest. Onions are a daily staple year-round. Come August, it’s harvesting, freezing and canning. It’s eating tomatoes, peppers, blackberries, cantaloupes and watermelons.
- Suddenly, it’s September and we’re turning towards fall! We’re harvesting winter squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, roasting and freezing red and yellow peppers, and still trying trying to keep up with the tomatoes. When heavy frost kills down the tender crops–tomatoes, peppers, and melons–we sow salad and cooking greens in the greenhouse, and we begin feasting on frost-hardy greens, which now include lots of Brussels sprouts and kale.
- In winter, we eat greens from our greenhouse, plus what we’ve canned, frozen, and tucked away in the cellar. So, it’s salad every day, frozen fruit, roasted root vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, often soup or chili–a base of dry beans, many veggies, and either a good broth (soup) or a spicy sauce (chili).
So, you can see we have enormous variety, but not all at once. When one crop is coming on strong, it’s handy, tasty, and at its most nutritious. It won’t stay fresh for long. We tend to eat it day after day until its season has passed.
Yes, we sometimes get sick of fresh asparagus (broccoli, tomatoes, etc.) along toward the end of its season. But the season always moves on, gives us something new, and pretty soon, we’re craving it again. And so it goes.