Edible Berkshires

edible gardening: FROM SEED TO SAUCE

Heirlooms, not your salad bar tomatoes

Nothing says summer quite like a perfectly ripe tomato fresh off the vine. Bright, juicy and acidic, this messenger of long days and humid nights needs no decoration— perhaps just a quick dash of salt and a grind of pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a basil leaf if you’re feeling fancy.

Take a drooling, fleshy bite out of a conventional fruit. Now try it again with an heirloom variety. Taste the difference? Heirloom plants (open-pollinated cultivars not used in modern large-scale agriculture) have been nurtured and handed down from farmer to farmer with legacies that enrich each slice with the richest possible flavor.

But you probably know that. In fact, chances are that if you’re reading this publication, you are already buying heirloom tomatoes over conventional when given the choice. You know that a tried-and-true, crater-laced Brandywine will dole out more … Read the rest

edible gardening: THE LURE OF LETTUCE

Freshness, variety make it a home-garden champ

Lettuce Ah, lettuce—soul of spring, jewel of the summer garden and heart of the salad bowl. Though summer is upon us now, lettuces in a variety of pleasing shapes and colors—some green or bronze, some with leaves blushed pink and red, still others a deep crimson—can still, with a little attention, be brought to table right through to autumn.

Lettuce has an interesting past. Ancient Egyptians worshipped it as a phallic symbol (likely the upright Romaine or Cos, which was, much later, introduced to France from Italy by none other than Rabelais, himself ).

These days, gardeners think of lettuce along more botanical lines, dividing the species into four primary groups, of which dozens and dozens of varieties are available to the home gardener, the number growing each year. Johnny’s Selected Seeds of Albion, Maine, offers no fewer than 13 pages of options … Read the rest

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