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Post Produce, Feb 2012: Anticipation for a Kitchen Gardener

The top shelf of my larder gets crowded with empty canning jars as winter drags on. I’ll be dragging those boxes down when my fresh garden produce is ready for packing.

My Post Produce article this month is a bit different; it’s about transition in Your Small Kitchen Garden blog. Just a few days ago, I sorted through the canned produce in my larder and organized it onto two shelves so one shelf would be clear. Then I hung a daylight spectrum shop light and planted cauliflower and broccoli seeds in a tray that I cut from a gallon milk jug.

Just two days ago, the cauliflower and broccoli seeds sprouted, and today the sprouts hold promise for a future harvest.

Small Kitchen Garden as the Circle of Life

A few years ago, my larder was nothing more than shelves to hold canned goods, canning gear, and other random stuff. Then, when I was contemplating another winter of starting vegetable seeds on my ping pong table, it dawned on me: by late winter, I’ve used up a lot of my canned goods; there would be room on my shelves to start seeds.

Above the soil for only two days, the tiny sprout in this photo could produce enough cauliflower to feed my family for three meals.

I love that the larder doubles for seed-starting. Just like my small kitchen garden, it knows all the seasons: It accumulates empty canning jars year-round, with most rapid growth in the dead of winter. Then, as winter becomes tedious, my larder comes alive when seeds sprout and grow until the garden is ready. With the earliest spring fruits—rhubarb and strawberries—I put up food while we continue to consume produce that won’t be available fresh for months. When all goes right, we use the last jar of tomatoes within days of canning the new season’s early fruits. Later, we use the last jar of sweet corn as the first ears come fresh out of the garden. Transitions within this cycle are so smooth, so seamless, that it almost doesn’t seem to have a beginning.

Celebrate Produce

This is what inspires me to write about kitchen gardening. This is why I encourage others to participate. With February’s post, I’m celebrating the kitchen garden’s circle of life and looking forward to seeing what produce my fellow gardeners are enjoying—or planning to enjoy—in coming months.

My repurposed milk jug planter holds 10 cauliflower seeds and 10 broccoli seeds on a shelf above canned tomato sauce and other goodies. I planted head lettuce seeds yesterday and in the next month I’ll start several hundred seeds including peppers, tomatoes, and squashes.

Post Your Produce!

The 22nd is the day to Post Produce. Join the celebration of homegrown food and share whatever you’re consuming from your garden. Whether it’s still growing, you’re harvesting it for a meal, you’re preserving it, or you’re taking it out of your larder for dinner, share it in a post and then link to it below. For more information, follow this link to the Post Produce page.

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10 Responses to “Post Produce, Feb 2012: Anticipation for a Kitchen Gardener”

  • It is a celebration. Living the change of seasons with such busy life, and graceful existence.
    Your lifestyle is enviable.
    God’s gift.

    Thanks for sharing these positive way of life.

  • I would like ask one question , please.
    You have mentioned that the Cauliflower plant will give enough flowers to feed .
    I am wondering whether each plant will give multiple flowers? How to achieve that?
    Mine I used to pull out as soon as one bolted!

  • [...] riveting, stem-grinding offering is part of Post Produce, hosted by Daniel Gasteiger over at Your Small Kitchen Garden. Check it out! Rate this: Share [...]

  • Mark:

    It really is circular, isn’t it! My Post Produce offering this time sort of touches on the idea of consuming one season’s harvest until the next is ready.

    I’m actually finding it hard to not start some of my seeds too early. I figure that in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to plant my first onions and peppers. There’s plenty to keep me busy until then! Getting the numerous odds and ends that have found their way onto the seed-starting shelf out of the way will be the first task.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Pattu – Thank you for visiting and for your comments. I thought hard about the cauliflower question before I committed the thought to my blog post. I can’t recall cauliflower sending up side shoots the way broccoli does, and I agree that the plant is pretty much done once you harvest the main cauliflower head. When I suggested that one plant could feed my family for three meals, I was allowing that we never consume an entire cauliflower in one sitting. If I use a head in stir fry, we eat it for three or four days. If I cook it as a vegetable side dish, I usually cut the head apart and cook a few servings worth each day.

    If anyone knows tricks to get a worthwhile second harvest from cauliflower plants, please share!

    Mark – Thank you so much for participating in Post Produce. I hope the event builds interest as vegetable gardens get going this season. I enjoy your posts, and reading about garlic has me pining for the days when I could eat it without getting nasty heartburn. My mom used to dry the plants and braid the dried stalks to hang in our basement for year-round consumption. That’s a gardener’s pleasure I’m afraid I’ll never know.

  • Daniel, thanks a lot .

    I asked because, I heard about the cabbage plant giving side shoots/flowers.

    It is also easier to have a few more cauliflower plants , starting with staggering days, so that we have a month long harvest

    Last season , my cauliflower plants were staggered, between weeks. I could get surprise harvest for some weeks.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    Pattu: I’ve seen the stumps of cabbage plants – after the cabbage head was removed – produce several new much smaller cabbage heads. The stumps looked like some kind of weird Brussels sprouts. It stands to reason that cauliflower could do the same thing, but I agree with your approach: if you start seeds every 4 to 6 weeks through the season, you’ll have cauliflower even after the early frosts of autumn.

  • What a wonderful post! I wish I had written one now. Love the idea of growing in the pantry!

  • Thanks, Daniel.

    I am growing so many cabbages, I will try for stumps this time. However, the worms are busy with them. Hope they survive first.

    I appreciate your prompt replies.

  • Great idea about starting seeds in the larder. Your blog is very informative. Thanks for sharing.

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