Gardening with my children has been one of the best things I have done with them. Having a true understanding of where food comes from and what it takes for us to put it on the table is magical and magic is what childhood is all about. With these warmer spring days upon us, we have been having such a nice time everyday doing a little work here and there. Finding our work from last season or the season before that is like finding a ten dollar bill in the pocket of an old sweater.
This time it was a bed of jerusalem artichokes or sunchokes as we call them. We planted them last summer and I meant to pull them up in late fall after a few frosts had hit them to make them sweeter but that never happened and truly, it completely slipped my mind all together. That is, until Christopher comes running with a dried up plant stalk in one hand and a sunchoke in the other. What a great surprise for him to find while weeding a bed. This led into an hour of JP and Chris digging for sunchokes, pulling up one after another. Some as big as a fist.
How I love seeing their faces light up when they gets to harvest anything. I wish I could bottle the expression and excitement for this process. It reminds me of the first time Chris helped dig potatoes. He was probably 6 and pulling out a potato with his chubby little hands started him down the road of love. Love of dirt and plants. Love of planting and waiting. He is always eager to help me with whatever I am doing out there and always learning and listening. JP is my walking encyclopedia. All I have to do is explain something to him once or give him the name of a plant snd he retains it for another time when the information will be helpful. JP, Christopher and Ronnie are my favorite gardening buddies. Ronnie is more business. She and Erica like to get things done. Just tell them what we need to do out there and they get moving. These kids of mine, light up like fireflies when we talk and make plans and love farming and all that goes with it. For me, it is even better than the harvest. Seeing their enthusiasm and excitement, it keeps me going.
There has been a lot of talk around here (between them but spilling over to me) about expanding the garden and dare I say, growing and raising food for others. Right now, its just talk and plans but I hear my little farmers and entrepeneurs making grander plans and I sit back and take a deep breath remembering that we are not in Florida. We don’t have as big a circle here and very little community but all in due time.
This harvest was a bushel full. We have roasted and boiled a few. Replanted the smaller tubers and scrubbed up the rest to keep in the refrigerator. Nutty and slightly sweet, very much like a potato but a little sweet and totally delicious. The first harvest of this year, discovered by mistake. A reminder of a warm summer day when we put those 4 little tubers in the ground and let the soil do its thing. 4 tubers turned into 60. That is my kind of math!
Our favorite way to cook them so far is to boil in salted water for a few minutes and then toss in oil, thyme, salt and garlic and roast till crispy and the sugars have caramelized on the edges a bit. So good!! If you want an easy root veggie to plant, this is an unstoppable and pretty much takes care of itself with just a little watering here and there.
So now we wait to enjoy the beautiful sunflower looking blooms to come up and know that someday in the fall, we will be pulling up another bushel or two to enjoy and feed our family. Unless that is, if I forget 🙂