Notes from the Farmers’ Market Chef

by Barbara Cornell

A word of introduction: I am not vegan—not even vegetarian.  In fact I enjoy meat at almost every meal.  But I do love vegetables!  Fresh, in season, bursting with healthy flavor…  My favorites are the veggies my husband and I grow in our own garden, fresh-picked a few minutes before eating. But a close second are the many varieties I find at the Farmers’ Market.  I work at the Glenwood Branch of the Howard County Library System, and from May through October almost every Saturday morning will find me at the Glenwood Farmers’ Market just outside the library’s door, which operates from 9:00 a.m to 12:30 p.m.

Some varieties I have seen for sale there are frankly a little exotic looking, like broccolini and turban squash, purple beans and striped tomatoes.  I have determined to learn more about these seasonal gems—some of which will never grace the chilled cabinets of the grocery store.  I’m offering to take you along for the ride!  Once each month from June through October, I will be The Farmers’ Market Chef and show you what I have learned about what’s currently in season.  Join me from 10 ’til 11:30 am, in the Glenwood Branch Library Meeting Room, June 4, July 9, August 6, September 10, and from 12:30-2 pm October 8. And if you can’t attend, be sure to check out my monthly column here on Well and Wise.

Until we can explore the wonders of the Farmers’ Market together, wouldn’t you really rather be picking your vegetables from your own garden?  Howard County Library System has many brand new books to help you learn how to grow your own.

How to Grow Food: a step-by-step guide to growing all kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs, salads and more by Richard Gianfrancesco. Could there be a more straight-forward title?!  The author starts with “why” you should grow your own, goes on to “where” to site your garden, “how” to succeed so that you will continue in future years, and “what” to grow.  I especially like that for each plant he may show photos of baby plants, pests, or plants ready for harvest.  He gives advice on what to do for that crop during each season and suggestions for the best varieties to plant.  Each plant gets stars (1 to 5) for “value for money,” “maintenance,” whether you can freeze or store it.  He ends the book with a section on “Preserving Your Crop” with safe procedures for canning, drying, and making pickles and chutneys.

Grow Your Own Vegetables by Carol Klein. Klein’s book is a similarly detailed and well-photographed offering for the beginning gardener.  She includes advice on raised beds and how to find a community garden if you do not have your own space.  Within her categories, such as “cabbage family,” “root and stem vegetables,” and so on, she covers where to grow, how to plant, how to care for, how to harvest, storing and cooking tips, and pests to watch out for.  This book will give the new gardener an encouraging start.

Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs: a Bountiful, Healthful Garden for Lean Times by Jim Wilson. This began as a syllabus for a course on Advanced Master Gardening and a manual for coordinators of community gardens, but as with most of Creative Homeowner’s publications, it has become a very colorful, well photographed, user friendly book.  There is just so much here for the reader!  Wilson gives advice on life span, how to plant, when to plant, best site, how much to plant, continuing care, harvesting, pests, and some “smart gardener” advice.  He also includes advice on how to find or start a community garden.

Homegrown Harvest: a season-by-season guide to a sustainable kitchen garden Editor in Chief Rita Pelczar, American Horticultural Society I like the season-by-season arrangement of this hefty book.  It helps the new gardener focus on what to do now, beautifully and appropriately photographed.

Container Gardening for Health: the 12 most important Fruits and Vegetables for your Organic Garden by Barbara Barker. Barker has chosen the 12 popular fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide load—the dirty dozen—and gives advice on how to grow your own, organically and, therefore, pesticide free.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith. Smith, author of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, brings his reputation to bear on the container garden.  His containers are beautiful as well as practical.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating your own Small-Space Edible Garden by Andrea Bellamy. I love this book!  The gorgeous photographs are sure to make you want to start growing—and eating right away.  Her advice, here and  and on Heavy Petal, applies to more than just small-space gardens.

The Food Lover’s Garden: Amazing Edibles you will love to grow and eat by Mark Diacono. This author, head gardener at River Cottage in Devon, Britain, advises that life is too short to grow unremarkable food.  He says “Make your garden unbuyable,” growing foods that you just can’t find in a market, and “Don’t grow food that’s cheap to buy.”  He includes recipes for these unique vegetables and fruits.

Now I hope you’ll excuse me while I go out an pull a few weeds. The peas are blossoming and the tomatoes are starting to develop personalities. I hope you can join me for a few sessions of The Farmer’s Market Chef!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


  1. Great post!

    • jsobieck

      Thanks, Tom (for your comment and advice)! We’ll try to keep ’em coming.

  2. I’m very excited for this column! Farmer’s Market season is my favorite time of year. I’ll definitely try to make it out to one or more of the sessions.

    • jsobieck

      Thanks, Kat! It will be a monthly column (at least until the end of the Farmers’ Market season). Hope to see you at a class.


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