A few weeks ago (Dec. 5) we celebrated World Soil Day. OK, truth be told, most people don’t even know there is such a “holiday,” not to mention why soil deserves its own day. But if we really dig deep (pun intended)-soil is the basis for health. Without rich, healthy soil, good nourishing food is difficult to come by. And nourishing food is the the foundation for good health.
Here, in Iowa December is a cold month. We usually have some snow on the ground and it is a time for warm, cozy fires, nourishing soups and curling up with a good book or movie. Even with frenzied holiday preparations, its a time of rest, connecting with God, family & friends and rejuvenation.
The soil is no different. As much as I abhor the cold temperatures and winter driving conditions, my husband reminds me our soil needs this time to slow down the decomposition process to produce an abundant harvest for next year.
Granted, there are many more things that go into creating rich soil, but a yearly cold winter is an essential element.
Root crops and other vegetables that expand underground, such as sweet potatoes are great ways to aerate the soil, decrease compaction, making it loose and loamy–a perfect bed for seeds to germinate and grow.
Legumes, like green beans and peas help replenish the soil by fixing nitrogen to soil particles. Nitrogen is an element vital for optimal plant growth and prolific yields. Many crops use high amounts of nitrogen, but legumes actually take the nitrogen out of the air and fix it back into the soil.
This symbiotic relationship is demonstrated beautifully in the traditional Native American Three Sisters garden, where beans, squash and corn are planted together. The beans help feed the nitrogen hungry corn while the squash help deter raccoons (and other pests), and the corn provides a place for the squash and pole beans to grow & climb.
Albeit, this December has been warmer than most. Even though we’ve only had two tiny skifts of snow and many days have been in the 40’s, the garden is still hard at work freezing and thawing. I’ve also been spending more time soaking up the sun as I walk through the woods rather than curled up with a book–I still crave a hearty, warm, earthy meal.
Here’s a recipe from the rich soil of our own garden, earthy beets and onions as well replenishing green beans. The red and green colors are also a festive reminder of the precious gift of food God has given us as we move into the holiday season. I paired this dish with fried drumsticks from chickens we raised and butchered ourselves.
I am thankful for the opportunity to raise and know where my food comes from. I am also thankful for the ability to share with you just how easy & delicious cooking health food choices from scratch can be. What are you thankful for this holiday season?