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‘365 little festivals’: Time-saving tips reap rewards


Photo By: courtesy of tanya kucak
Photo Courtesy Of Tanya Kucak

Golden beets are as visually appealing, tasty and productive as red beets, but they dont spread their color to other foods. Although orange-tinted on the outside, golden beets are deep yellow inside.

The gardening year is “365 little festivals,” according to horticulturist and author Barbara Damrosch.

“You can go into any supermarket and get anything anytime. But the real entitlement is to eat each fruit and vegetable at its perfect moment,” she said.

She contrasted “hotel melon,” the tasteless fruit often available in hotel lobbies, with a slice of luscious heirloom melon fresh from the garden, picked at the peak of sweetness: “No comparison!”

Damrosch discussed “Feasting from the Garden Year-Round” at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show in March. With her husband, Eliot Coleman, she owns the experimental market garden Four Season Farm in coastal Maine and wrote the book “The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook: From the Garden to the Table in 120 Recipes” (Workman, 2013).

They’ve simplified their gardening and cooking “to make the most of space and time,” Damrosch said, and are always looking for “how to do it quicker and better.”

For novice gardeners, Damrosch said potatoes are a sure-fire crop.

The secret to making the most of your space is always to have something ready to plant before something else comes out, she said. Other ideas include interplanting shallow-rooted plants such as lettuces with deeper-rooted plants such as radishes and training vining plants such as cucumbers or melons on trellises.

Damrosch offered interesting ideas for saving gardening and cooking time.

• To grow leeks with more of the edible, white part, usually you’d have to mound soil around the plants as they grow, which takes time. But Damrosch offered a way to plant only once and still produce an extra-long white shank. Instead of planting seedlings at ground level, she uses a metal rod to make a hole 9 inches deep and drops the seedling into the hole. (“I’ve used a crowbar or a piece of rebar,” she said.) The entire plant still gets enough light to grow, because the hole is not filled in. By the end of the season, though, the hole will have slightly filled in, and you can harvest a leek with a very long white shank.

• To make applesauce or lemonade a pretty color, Damrosch adds grated or juiced red beets. Conversely, if you like the flavor of beets but don’t want your food to be pink or red, grow golden or white beets.

• Rather than processing fresh tomatoes, Damrosch freezes them in plastic bags. When she’s ready to use them, the skins easily slip off the frozen tomatoes if they’re rinsed with hot water. Then, she puts the tomatoes in a colander and lets them drain for several hours. The liquid can be saved for soups, and the drained tomatoes won’t need to be cooked down to make puree, she added.

• To control brambleberries, Damrosch ties several canes to a stake, keeping adequate space between clumps. When it’s time to pick, she can walk all the way around each staked clump, rather than having to reach through a thicket from one side.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . d

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