The other night at dinner, I had three kids discussing their favorite – and least favorite – vegetables.
Asher, the youngest, immediately says “tamales” as one of those he cannot stand, knowing full well tamales are not a vegetable. However, he had an instance when tamales did not go down well, and he’ll take any chance available to let us all know they are not palatable.
Whatever – he’s my eater, tending to show no fear with most food, so I cannot hold much guilt over his 4-foot-2 head.
The older girls, Elena and her best buddy, Kathryn, found it relatively easy to reel off three of their least favorite. Now, we all know that Elena hates potatoes. Always has. It’s a shame, and perhaps having her father call her out every year in The Durango Herald will be a burden that she is willing to bear. It seems not to have affected her yet. She also doesn’t like beets or winter squash.
Now, with beets, I can feel some compassion. I didn’t like beets until I was in my late 30s. They taste like dirt. There’s no way around that. It just depends if you like the taste of dirt or if the cook can make dirt taste good – both of which are entirely possible.
Personally, I have learned to love beets in almost any form, and despite the general “eh” from both kids, they will always be a staple in the garden. And Kathryn concurred: She hates beets. She also doesn’t like asparagus. And maybe tomatoes – but I was still reeling from the asparagus comment, and the ringing in my ears and my lightheadedness distorted her words so I’m not sure if I heard tomatoes or potatoes.
In the way that a fresh tomato tastes like summer, asparagus has that flavor of spring. It shoots for the sky in the months of April and May, and like crocuses and daffodils, it has become a harbinger of spring, warmer days and longer nights. And it is so simple to cook – one of those vegetables like shishito peppers or tomatoes – that it only needs a dash of sea salt and some good olive oil. Heaven in a healthy way, I tell you.
Many of you are gearing up (or already in full gear) for the growing season. Perhaps your peas, spinach and lettuce already are seeded in their beds. Some of you may have tomato and pepper starts waiting anxiously in the greenhouse or on a warm windowsill, looking forward to those first days of June when they can jump out of their containers and live a full life of driving you crazy.
But for those of you who may need a little instruction or even a little push, the Colorado State University Extension Office will once again offer its ever-popular Backyard Food Production Series.
Starting April 29, 12 classes spanning the gardening season – April through September – will teach you how to grow your own food: from design and seed starting to harvest, storage and preservation.
Local farmers, college professors and Extension agents will give you the tools to effectively and efficiently grow lots of food, whether you have a few square feet or a few thousand. The cost is $145, which, in my opinion, may be the greatest investment you make in the garden.
Well, that and shishito pepper transplants. Seriously, these peppers are addictive. And if they ever make my children’s “do not like” list, I will make sure they take the class alongside you.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.