Everything’s coming up okra

Here’s what’s happening in the garden today:

1. The beans, a few of which were just barely trying to sprout yesterday, are really taking off, with many new sprouts and several of the initial sprouts putting out leaves.
2. The collards are getting bigger; the seedlings now look like radishes (two tiny heart-shaped leaves) instead of four-leaf clovers.
3. The okra is finally starting to come up. I planted a lot of it, so hopefully we will have a good crop this year.
4. Three or four cucumber seeds are sprouting.
5. Our tomatoes and peppers look good.

No signs of life yet from the asparagus beans, but I imagine they’ll be up soon, too. I think the garden really benefited from ideal growing conditions today: a very warm morning and afternoon, with a rainstorm in the late afternoon and into early evening. The frogs liked the rain; they’re just singing their little hearts out all over the neighborhood. There’s at least one living right next to our pond, because I heard it last night while I was bringing in the laundry.

The storm kept me from jogging after work, so I used the time to make a quick batch of tuna salad, which I ate on Triscuit crackers for dinner, and then I spent part of this evening reading and part of this evening practicing my neon skills, trying to regain some of what I’ve lost in three years away from the torches. I’ll have more to say about that later, but right now, I want to talk about the cool thing I signed up for today.

Our editorial assistant told me about a food co-op here in town that offers bags of organic meat or produce for $29 apiece. You pay a $45 annual membership fee to join the co-op, and then once a week, you can buy a bag of meat, a bag of produce, or a bag of each. It’s rather similar to a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm, in that you’re buying local, and the contents of the produce bag are a surprise every week — whatever is in season is what you get.

We belonged to a CSA back in Illinois, and I highly recommend it. CSAs are a great way to support local farmers, try new things (they always put some weird stuff in the bag, like bok choy or kohlrabi — it’s not all heirloom tomatoes and organic carrots, although you get plenty of that, too), and learn about where your food comes from.

I suppose some people would cringe at the idea of letting a stranger pick out the groceries, but I haven’t met too many vegetables I didn’t like, and I have a pretty good sense of adventure about my meals. After all, I am firmly convinced that barbecued snoot is the reason God gave man dominion over the animals … and our copy editor, who usually goes and picks up lunch for the rest of the staff, can tell you that I’m not above handing him $10 and telling him to surprise me if I can’t decide what I want to eat … so the random-sack-of-produce thing is fine by me.

The other thing I really like about the CSA/co-op concept is the “autopilot” nature of the whole thing: Instead of wasting time figuring out what I want to eat for the next week, making a grocery list, and blowing an hour at the supermarket, I can just go and pick up my bag of goodies, put them away, and spend the next week cooking whatever I’ve got in the refrigerator. Somehow this strikes me as the sort of thing FlyLady would approve of.

I went and signed up for the co-op today. I’ll let you know what I get Friday. Our editorial assistant got a big ol’ fennel bulb last week. I would be excited if we got fennel, because that would mean that Ron would probably make me some of his famous baked fennel. Yum.