One-Block Feast: Spring Garden Plan
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The One-Block Spring Feast
• Radishes, Fresh Homemade Butter, and Salt
• Favas and Ricotta on Buttermilk Crackers
• Mesclun Salad with Spring Beets and Dill
• Grilled Carrot Salad
• Fava Leaf and Parsley Quiche
• Strawberries with Fromage Blanc and Lemon Honey
• Chardonnay, Belgian Abbey Ale
• Strawberry Lemonade
We had been excited about all of our menus. But spring seemed especially wonderful, because the contrast between the dense, minerally, sulfurous vegetables of winter—kales, cabbages, cauliflowers—and the light, fresh crops of spring—strawberries, peas, carrots—was so dramatic. With the sun came sunny, sweet-tasting food.
After our now-customary Food and Garden meeting to figure out what we would like to grow versus what we actually could grow, Johanna began the planting. She started the more tender herbs—like dill (even though it’s more of a summer herb, it would still grow in our spring), tarragon, and feathery chervil—in the greenhouse, since the ground wasn’t quite warm enough yet. She planted carrots, strawberries, and soft mixed lettuces that we would be able to snip when barely formed and toss into salads. Green onions went in, and radishes, and three kinds of beets. We craved peas, preferably English peas or sugar snaps, but if planted now, in March, they wouldn’t be ready for a feast in May.
This was terribly disappointing. What is a spring menu without peas? Then we spotted some distinctly legume-like plants climbing up the side of the greenhouse.
Johanna reluctantly revealed that they were fava beans, which she had planted specifically as a cover crop back in October to deliver nitrogen to a spot that needed it. Ah! Fava beans could be just as good, if not better, in our spring menu. Maybe the test garden could spare a few? “Please let us eat some. They’re so delicious,” I wheedled. “And we have no peas.” Johanna graciously gave in. Team Kitchen lucked out, and next year, we will plan ahead for peas.
Treating Broody Hens
Chickens are tamer than bees, but they care less about the good of the collective. Honey—the henpecked chicken for whom we had built her own separate protective enclosure the year before—was again being tormented by the rest of the flock: more bleeding comb, more hiding in the nest box, serious wasting away of plump chicken body. We fretted. This could not go on.
Finally, we realized that Honey was just being broody. This is common among chickens, and we felt a bit silly that it had taken so long for us to recognize it. Poor Honey was trying to hatch eggs; that was why she refused to leave the box, not because she was avoiding the sorority from hell down in the yard. However, non-brooding hens, we learned, do typically attack a brooder whenever she’s off the nest. It’s as though they’re telling her to get back on the job.
Our tactic was to haul Honey out of the nest box, plop her down next to the food, and stand guard long enough so she could eat and drink. She would puff up her feathers until she looked like a big yellow dandelion, and she’d make wet, squelchy clucks that sounded as though she were babbling. This completely enraged the other chickens.
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