This week's entry is a backup post. Originally we were going to write about the St. Jacobs Farmer's Market. We went on Saturday morning and I brought the camera with good intentions, but didn't take it out. It was ridiculously crowded. We couldn't get into the main market building with the stroller, and we left exhausted without seeing much.
It's a great market, if memories of past visits serve me well, you just need to get there at 6 (or on a weekday). I have to remind myself that it's a good thing that there are this many people at a Farmer's Market. I sometimes get the feeling that a lot of the people there regard the local farmer as a quaint notion, more of a historical interpreter than an actual supplier. But then I remember that I'm not that much better... that we're still going to the supermarket a lot.
Don't get me wrong, half my motivation for going is back bacon on a bun. Melanie and I are still trying to get out of that tourist mindset and actually go with a plan.
The farmer's markets that are popping up in neighbourhoods like ours, and one I've recently seen in my old neighbourhood in Toronto on Sorauren Ave. make me feel better immediately. They're precisely the right idea. A place you can walk to, with a cart, and fill it up.
It also makes me feel better when we get home and see our garden. Space that used to be a decorative garden now full of usable plants. Herbs we let go to flower, tomatoes bending under the weight of their fruit, and more leafy greens than we can eat from about $2 worth of seeds.
I bought two Sage plants last year and this year they really flourished. I didn't realize that they practically become a shrub. The plant in front of our house, which gets the most sun, went into full beautiful bloom. It made me wonder why we don't plant more practically. I love the idea of a completely edible garden. Our Thyme would make a great ground cover, and I'd take Kale over hostas any day.
Our dill is about 5 feet tall and growing out of the crack between the sidewalk and our stone wall. I'm sure it elicits a lot of tsks from people passing by, but I love it. If they just ripped a little branch off and tasted it they'd understand why it's there.
After two summers, this is the first one that I'll be a successful grower of heirloom tomatoes - you know, the butt-ugly, amazingly delicious tomatoes. The past two seasons were notoriously bad for tomatoes. Cool and wet, it was the perfect condition for blight and all my heirlooms turned black and rotted on the vine. This summer they're turning purple-black, but they're supposed to, since they're Black Krim tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes, or heirloom anything refers to its state of hybridization, or more specifically, lack thereof. Today, most produce is bred for aesthetic and shipping tolerance often at the expense of flavour and nutritional quality. This is through hybridization, by selecting plants that have the characteristics you want and cross-breeding them with plants with other characteristics you want for super results. Or why not insert genes from a totally different species or even a different kingdom? I have my speculations about those massive, tasteless, apple-sized strawberries from the south-west, I just have to do more research.
When I eat an heirloom tomato, or tiny wild strawberry, I like to think about my great-great grandfather tasting the exact same thing.
Our garden isn't beyond novelty yet, but next year I'll know how to prepare the soil better for peppers, and to not transplant the cucumbers that seem to still be playing catch-up. If we're still in the same house, I have a feeling the whole front yard (which is the only unshaded part of our 70'x70' estate) will be edible garden.