Earlier this month we had the pleasure of hearing Jeanne Pinsof Nolan of The Organic Gardener speak locally. I’m particularly in awe of her and her team’s achievements within the city of Chicago bringing “beautiful and productive organic edible gardens” within reach
of us all.
As my community garden ramps up for it’s 3rd season, what I really appreciated from Jeanne was the simplicity of her recommendations for the gardening year, “planting in 4 waves.”
Wave 1 after St Patricks Day – in go your lettuce and other greens.
Wave 2 follows Mother’s Day and the last recorded frost date – plant those mouthwatering crops for summer harvest i.e tomatoes & basil.
Wave 3 July & August – return to wave 1 crops and plant them again for a fall harvest.
Wave 4 Overwintering – plant garlic for a harvest the following year & cold tolerant varieties of greens such as spinach for an early Spring crop when the days begin to lengthen.
Now that our clocks have moved on and given us that precious extra hour of daylight, we’re coming out of the dark. Tiptoeing tentatively towards Spring I am once again tempted by all the pretty illustrated organic seed packets in our grocery stores. It’s the most optimistic time of the gardening year, the bare snow covered square of earth I’m about to plant is once again a blank canvas. Anything is possible.
We’re in transition and our Italian Bean Stew with Spring Greens can help us along. There’s a good selection of kale, spinach and other greens in the stores now, if you have a favorite then feel free to substitute it in the recipe.
Jeanne’s first book is currently being published and will be available in the early Summer when we hope to feature more of her gardening wisdom while she works with Meg to organize her new garden.
6 oz dried Northern or Navy beans MUST be soaked overnight, rinse and drain (alternatively 2 cans prepared beans, rinsed & drained)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups / 4 medium celery stalks, sliced
1 ½ cups / 2 large carrots, diced
3 cups/1 large red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 slices prosciutto or bacon, cut into strips
half a bunch flat leaf parsley
1×14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tsp fennel seed
2 bay leaves
2 tsp oregano
a good pinch red pepper flakes (hot)
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
half bunch kale or your favorite green, chopped
If using dried beans – put the dried beans into your slow cooker, cover with water & soak overnight. Drain & rinse the beans before use.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet and add celery, carrot, onions, garlic and prosciutto, frying gently for 5 minutes
Add the drained beans, parsley, tomatoes, spices & broth.
Cook on high for 4 hours high or on low for 6-7 hours and add the kale 30 minutes from the end.
Serve with a generous grating of fresh parmesan on top.
Don’t discard your parmesan rinds, refrigerate and use in soups for flavor remembering to remove before serving.
“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
– Leo Tolstoy