End of the 2012 Garden and Market

November 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

Both my garden and the Morton Grove Farmers’ Market have all but drawn to a close, driving me into the long Chicago winter with nothing to do but plan for the spring.

We’ve finished off the last of the squash from our backyard garden. We’ve given away the baby pumpkins and carved or made pies and breads from the larger ones. All that remains is a stalk of Brussels sprouts, a leafy collard green plant that WILL NOT DIE no matter how often I denude it and a healthy bed of lettuce.

Another climate-confused vegetable is the 100 or so garlic bulbs I planted in mid-October, in compliance with the U of I Extension suggested planting date. However, many of the bulbs have started to sprout delicious green scapes already. I had hoped for a good frost to follow the planting, but there’s no anticipating the weather around here any more.

I built a cold frame for the lettuce from old storm windows and spare lumber. The lettuce has thrived under its own cozy, private greenhouse and providing us with regular fresh lettuce for more than a month.

If you think you can’t afford to build a cold frame, think again! This cost me nothing and works like a charm.

The few remaining green tomatoes I managed to salvage ripened in paper bags and now sit on the windowsill awaiting consumption. Scrawny as they are, I’m still gushing with pride at the unique shapes, flavors, colors and textures of the crop, but my wife takes issue with me even calling it a “crop.” You can read her opinion on our harvest at http://www.reluctantrenovator.com/2012/08/my-lady-garden-and-the-one-in-our-yard/ and note that my wide tomato variety doesn’t interest her nearly as much as would a bunch of fat Romas.

Our Ukranian neighbors gifted us a bounty of cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes to help clear off their vines and prepare their garden for winter. As a result, the produce in my veggie omelets lately have traveled no more than 50 feet from ground to skillet.

A friend from Lithuania sent me a link about a community garden http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZGorpI1ThA that reminds me of many people I’ve met from around the Chicago area who passionately believe in growing and buying local food, including http://www.petersongarden.org/ on the North Side and http://www.thetalkingfarm.org/ in Skokie. In both cases, these are groups of fascinating locavores who have made a substantial impact on their communities.

The Farmers’ Market has closed for the season (www.mgfarmersmarket.com) and the last Market was well attended. The Park View Orchestra was a huge draw. The junior high kids did an amazing job on a sunny but chilly mid-October Saturday.

The Park View Orchestra performs at the closing Morton Grove Farmers’ Market

We have already begun planning for our two Winter Markets, on December 1 and February 2, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Last year’s Winter Market was extremely crowded. Partly because people were doing holiday shopping and partly because, IMHO, having one Market a season is more enticing than having one a week.

We closed the Market with a judged costume contest.

My role is Entertainment Coordinator, and I’ve already booked three acts (Jon Weber on guitar, the Perelstein Fiddlers and Bee) to fill the time in our 2nd floor Food Court. We will offer hot food and a nice break from shopping on the first floor. Hope to see you at the Morton Grove Civic Center on December 2.

Albo Acres alpaca socks, mittens, gloves and hats are the softest, warmest clothing produced nearby

I also want to give a quick shout out to Kaufman’s Deli in Skokie and congratulate them on their grand reopening after a fire that kept them shut for about a year.