My hands smelled of earth when my kids and I arrived home on a recent evening. We’d just planted our plot at the community garden, carefully placing the tomato, cucumber and pepper seedlings, cabbage starts and rows of radish and onion seeds. There was a sense of accomplishment as my daughter watered the plot, the final step in our planting frenzy.
Our garden there, one plot among many at the community garden, is one of three we’re cultivating throughout Bangor this year. There’s a flower garden downtown as well, and our container garden at home. After several years here, I decided to go all in — or, rather, as all in as one can go when they don’t have land of their own — with growing. The world is prettier and tastier place with more flowers and veggies in it, after all.
That said, I don’t know if we’ll successfully grow anything. We’ll certainly try, stopping by each garden, taking time to pluck weeds, water and add plants as we can. But I also know that there are so many factors that can impact the outcomes — weather, bugs, soil conditions, etc … And as a grower, my thumb is closer to brown than green. In truth, my successful growing years are far outnumbered by my unsuccessful ones. So, we’ll see.
It’s all a learning experience for my kids and myself.
At best, by midsummer we’ll be plucking tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from plants and then pulling radishes and onions and snipping Swiss chard. Those will be lovely for salads and omelets, snacks and sandwiches. My kids are hoping I’ll steam some of the cabbages we planted for lunches or dinners, but I plan to tuck at least a few away for stirfries and fried rice. And maybe, just maybe, if the cucumbers grow well, we’ll can some pickles for the winter too. My son would be overjoyed if I did.
Come to think of it, I think we need to plant some dill still.
For now, we’ll take advantage of what other growers have already harvested — the first radishes of the season, rhubarb, greens and more. And then there’s the herbs starting to show up. Sage and thyme, perhaps some rosemary … and lovage too.
Lovage is a French herb that grows here in Maine and can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets. It’s flavor resembles celery, though the minced leaves are without the crisp, stringy texture that characterizes that vegetable.
In this vinaigrette, it’s flavor is complimented by garlic. The light, refreshing flavor of white wine vinegar combines with olive oil, a little water and a touch of dijon mustard. Seasoned with just a bit of salt and pepper, it’s perfect for drizzling onto salads. It’d also be lovely on boiled potatoes.
I make this vinaigrette in a pint-size mason jar, which is perfect for both making (just shake it up!) and storing.
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh minced lovage
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp dijon mustard
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Pile the lovage, garlic and mustard in a pint jar.
- Pour the olive oil, white wine vinegar and water in. Season gently with salt and pepper.
- Place a top on the jar and twist to seal. Shake vigorously.
- Enjoy. This should be shaken well before using each time.