March 31, 2013

Author Q&A: Eats of Eden

A new book by Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman teaches beginning gardeners how to grow and cook their own food.

By TOM ATWELL, Special to the Maine Sunday Telegram

(Continued from page 1)

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The authors, Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, operate Four Season Farm in Harborside.

Courtesy photo

Q: So you think the trend for home gardening will continue when the economy gets better?

A: You think it gets better? It has been a long time since things really were good. You have to go back to the '50s to find any true prosperity of any depth in this country that goes down to the middle class.

Gardening goes in waves, and even after each wave goes, it  leaves people with skills they didn't have before that they can pass on to their kids: Knowing the names of certain kinds of vegetables and how to cook them.

And if people did start gardening for economic reasons and things get better for them, maybe they will keep on (gardening) because they just love being out there. 

Q: How long have you been using EMT electrical conduit for your trellises?  A reader emailed me the idea two years ago, and I tried it last year for the Sugar Snaps, and it is just great.

A: Eliot has really embraced it, using it for everything.

It is sort of like greenhouse pipe, and he got a pipe bender from a guy named Loy (Loy Robinson at Lost Creek Greenhouse Systems in Texas), and Johnny's Selected Seeds sells one too. So we use it for small tunnels and for trellises for growing things like tomatoes and peas. It is really our favorite farm Tinker Toy, and you can get it at Home Depot and it's really cheap. 

The White House garden has the quick hoops that Eliot kind of pioneered, and when television showed them covering those hoops with Remay (floating row cover), we were jumping up and down with excitement.

Q: I'm not much of a cook, but the recipes seem quite easy and fairly quick. Was that the intent?

A: That was the idea. In an earlier question, you asked how I ever manage my time. I love to cook, but I only have so much time, so I want to make it simple. The old way was to open a can of cream mushroom soup as a substitute for making a sauce, but we are really fussy about not using processed food.

The other thing is that I tried to come up with recipes that I can make at any time of year with what we have in the garden. This is just the way that I cook, using different vegetables in a quiche or stir fry, and it is the same with a custard fruit dessert.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add that we haven't covered?

A: I hope that people will pick up on our love for gardening and cooking and eating real food. I don't want this book to lecture that you should do this or eat that. We love to do this, and do manage to do this even though we are incredibly busy.

And everyone was is incredibly busy, even if they are at home.

But nothing is more important than what you put in your body, and what is more important than sitting around the table with our family?

One thing I want people to take from this book is how much fun we are having doing all of it.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth.  He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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