Outside, the fog has finally slithered back to the coast. The May sun - watery but gaining strength - pokes through remaining clouds and slowly warms the soil. The squash plants sit up high in their hills and reach across the pathway. The sunburnt raspberries sway in the breeze and the lone surviving cucumber falters in its determined crawl toward the arbor. Collards are riddled with holes and the potato runner beans bend over in submission -the victims of a month's long siege by pillbugs and slugs. Just beyond the fence, sunflowers struggle outward, having been nipped at the top by dawdling deer.
Outside is a battle that rages on. Heedless of holidays or weekends. Of busy schedules or the barreling end of the school year.
Inside, however, I watch seeds sprout from my kitchen window. Immune to predators or sudden weather changes, they stretch almost before my eyes - pushing their verdant, micro leaves against the clear glass of a conscripted canning jar. This week, I'm growing alfalfa sprouts. The delicate and stringy greens that once graced my childhood sandwiches.
Though my mother did it often when I was young, I'd forgotten all about sprouting until a friend brought alfalfa and lentil sprouts to a snack swap. Promising no special skills or equipment are required, she directed me to Sprout People for instructions. I grabbed an envelope of alfalfa sprouting seeds at Whole Foods and was on my way to soaking, rinsing and draining this weeks' meals.
I am a bit on the impetuous side, though, and didn't exactly plan my sprouting to the tee. The instructions promised edible greens in five days. Five days, though, put me in the middle of a weekend with the parents. Unlike my intrepid pumpkins, who, rooted in the dirt, could not be transplanted wily nily, sprouts are totally portable.
I rinsed, drained and popped my budding jar in a cooler and we were off. Two days later, we sat in the middle of wine country, enjoying fresh sprouts with locally baked artisan bread, the first tomatoes of the season, and local cheese.
Next stop for this Farm-In-a-Jar, mung beans. I see Thai food in my future.