Kudos to Andrew Woodruff and the laborers at Whippoorwill Farm. I went to the final community supported agriculture pickup of the season last Friday. I don’t belong to CSA as I grow plenty of food myself. I wanted to support the farm last week and check out what was being offered. It was a chilly day especially in the shady open farm stand. Other customers went about their weighing and measuring hastily with no time for idle chitchat. Those heated vehicles were calling to them. For $20 I filled a large canvas bag with leeks, carrots, onions, potatoes, a red cabbage, celery root, and a decent amount of salad greens.

I promptly came home, made a big salad and started a beef stew cooking away on the wood cookstove. I had purchased some wonderful grass-fed beef from Mermaid Farm just before Christmas. In fact I gave it as Christmas presents this year. At any rate it was an enjoyable time spent both shopping and preparing yet another local meal.

Curiosity got the better of me and I went to the local market the next day, notebook in hand, to figure out if buying local is worth it economically. First of all, celery root was not even offered at the market, but I searched for everything else of comparable value in the produce section. I would have spent $36 for older, less nutritious food shipped here creating a much larger carbon footprint. So! There you have it!

I hope this will encourage my readers to check out the CSA this spring.

I was thinking about the absurdity of trying to write a garden column in the dead of winter until I realized what I actually did in my own garden last week. I had use of a young man and a bobcat (love it). I had him move an enormous pile of leaves and grass clippings into the garden and spread them over a foot deep in the area I have planned for potatoes this season. The soil is just terrible — what there is of it. I am going to lay my seed potatoes on top of the leaves and cover them with a good amount of spoiled hay. Hopefully by fall the soil will begin to form and be a friendly environment for earthworms — and I’ll have potatoes for next winter storage.

I also took stock of some old greenhouse hoops and ordered some parts. I want another unheated hoop house in which to grow tomatoes and peppers. I think they could use the extra heat. My pepper crop last year was pretty dismal. By the time they were producing it was too cold for them to ripen.

In my existing hoop house I have a fair amount of seedlings up and coming. I started quite a few perennial herbs on the 60-degree propagating mat. They germinated in a little over a week.

I am rereading for the umpteenth time Ruth Stout’s Gardening Without Work — for the Aging, the Busy and the Indolent. I highly recommend it. Please indulge me while I quote this paragraph.

“When we contemplate buying something, we usually ask the price of it, then decide whether or not it is worth that much to us. But when we expend time and energy we often just go ahead and pay, not stopping to ask if the objective justifies our actions. If we are overtired and cranky at the end of the day we might pause and ask ourselves: what did I do today to get myself into this state, and was it worth it to anyone, including me? Since you wound up being cross and irritable the answer may well be no, but how about the criticism you might get from some members of your family or the neighbors if you had neglected to do this or that? And now I am lost, for I’ve never been able to get to the bottom of what goes on in the minds of people who order their lives (including their asparagus beds) by other people’s standards.”

I forced myself to watch Sarah Palin speak at the first annual tea party convention. She lost me when she said we need a real commander-in-chief, not a law professor who lectures us. Honestly, it is becoming frightening that the right wing is swinging so far from center. I understand that the party in power is always the target but such a solid block of opposition is starting to look like plain spoilsportism!