Saturday, May 5, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

It's not often that the Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo, a full moon, and the opening of one of my favorite farmers' markets coincide. What did you do on this most celebratory of days?

Me? I went to a baseball game, then a Derby de Mayo party -- mint juleps and margaritas. But before that, I headed to opening day at the 14th & U Street farmers' market for the 2nd annual DC State Fair Seedling Swap. I dropped off my heirloom Black Prince tomato and zinnia starts and took a raffle number, but since I had a half hour or so before the drawing I poked around the market to pick up ingredients for class on Monday. And brunch tomorrow. And, okay, fine, some strawberries and asparagus and sunchokes and a few other odds and ends for myself for the coming week. This may well be my favorite time of the year for produce. (Though peach and tomato and sweet corn season always puts in a strong bid, now that I think of it.)

I made my way back to the swap just as they were getting ready for folks to start choosing plants to take, admittedly somewhat overladen with produce and wondering how I would get everything back the mile straight uphill to my apartment, when my eyes fell on the sole raspberry plant in the mix. Oh, I wanted it -- thorns be damned. Luckily my number got drawn second, so I had almost first dibs. I am now the proud owner of my very own berry plant! (I also managed to snag a little bitty okra plant and a small pot of basil that are now happily ensconced out back.)

Have you been to a seedling swap before? It was my first time. Virginia peanut seedlings and brown turkey fig cuttings were definitely the most popular items on offer and were scooped up early on. But there was still excitement right up til the end. In fact, I think someone could have lost an appendage in the final moments as folks dove for the heirloom tomatoes and peppers and herbs.

Here I am with my friend Marisa and her husband and their Hungarian peppers and basil just moments after the final frenzy of the seedling swap:

Look how proud we are, us novice gardeners. I can't wait to dig a nice hole out back and mix in some rich worm compost for my new raspberry plant. I think I'll call him Scratchy (in honor of the little reminders he left me as I struggled to get him out of my crammed-full pannier back at home)...

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