Trip to the Farmers Market for Vegetable Garden Plants (and other Spring Colors)

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Many of the plants I plan to use for the Children’s Workshop’s Straw Bale garden came from a wonderful nursery that sells at the Union Square Farmers Market. Silver Heights Farm specializes in certified organic, heirloom & unusual, open pollinated vegetable transplants. Their catalog contains hundreds of different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, greens, melons, squash and other vegetables and you can spend endless hours reading it and planning, fantasizing and building the perfect garden in your head.


My goals were:  1) to plant as much as the bales can reasonable hold without overtaxing the bales’ fertility or causing competition for water and soil, and 2) to provide as broad an overview of the types of plants one can grow in the garden, methods of companion planting, and show a few interesting examples of each plant, 3) test the versatility of the straw bale planting method, and 4) give as much opportunity to taste different foods and combinations of food and herbs as possible.  Here’s the list of plants for the Children’s Workshop Garden. Thank you Silver Heights Farm!

Frigateliello de Napoli – 2 pots
Cubanelle – 2 pots
Ancho – 1 Pot
Jimmy Nardiello – 1 Pot
Purple Beauty — 1 Pot

Cajun Jewel – 2 Pot
Penta Dragon – 1 Pot

Green Grape – 1 Pot
Lollipop – 1 Pot
Jeune Flamme – 1 Pot
Cosmonaut– 1 Pot
Mortgage Lifter – 1 Pot
Pineapple – 1 Pot

Diva – 1 Pot
Lemon – 1 Pot
Wautoma – 1 Pot

Amaranth – 1 Pack
Mizspoona – 1 Pack
Collards (Georgia Southern)  — 1 Pack
Lettuces – 2 pack (summer-friendly)

Ping Tung Long – 1 Pot
Rosa Bianca – 1 Pot
Thai Long Green – 1 Pot

Leeks  – 1 Pot
Onions (New York Early) – 1 Pot

Italian Alpine — 1 pot
Yellow Wonder — 1 pot

Thai Basil

Some photos from the market, including from Silver Heights and other farms that sell gorgeous plants.

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And guess what else arrived at the market? Strawberries and rhubarb!


I bought two quarts to use in almost anything I can think of that could benefit from the flavor of strawberries….

I also bought more asparagus while it’s still in season and a big bunch of spring onions and spring garlic.



(Interlude: Gratuitous cheese shot)



I steamed the asparagus and dressed it with shallots, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil:



Recipe: Asparagus, Potato and Spring Onion Soup

I hate throwing out asparagus ends, so I used them to make a quick and easy asparagus, potato and spring onion soup.

Asparagus ends (the bottom 3-4″) from a bunch (about a pound) of asparagus, chopped roughly
1/2 onion, chopped roughly
Water or chicken stock, to cover
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 potato, red or white, peeled and diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 spring onion, white and most of green parts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon dried or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup half and half
6 asparagus tips
Fresh mint sprigs


1) Place asparagus ends and onion into large saucepan and add water or chicken stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer about 40-45 minutes or until asparagus is very soft.
2) Blend or process the asparagus and liquid in batches (I used a immersion hand blender right in the pot).
3) Strain the vegetable puree, reserving the liquid.







4) Heat the butter and olive oil together over medium heat, add potatoes, shallots, garlic and spring onions. Saute until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.
5) Add the reserved asparagus stock and simmer on low for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Blend or process and return to pan.





6) Add cream, lemon juice, salt and white pepper to taste. And voila, serve hot or cold with asparagus tips and chopped mint:



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