Winter garden

Leon Archer
Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Last week, I began a series on hunting, not a defense of hunting, but rather an exploration of it and I hope it may have caused you to examine your own views on hunting.

As I continue the series next week, I hope you will be drawn into the conversation. If you have strong feelings either pro or con, or if you would just like to comment, please feel free to email me with your thoughts. is the proper address for such comments.

I had planned to have part two in the paper this week, but I have found the topic to be more involved and more difficult to put into the right words. Sometimes, semantics have been a great barrier between hunter and non-hunter and I would rather help to span the gulf than widen it. So this week, as I ponder what I have written and do some self-editing, I will bring you up to date on what Sweet Thing and I are doing.

First of all, because this is an outdoors column, I’m going to take some leeway and mention our winter garden. Sweet Thing gets as much of a kick out of home grown fresh veggies as she does from a bunch of sea trout.

One of the first tasks I have each year when we hit Florida is to get the garden worked up and planted. The season is short and time is important.

This year, I had the garden in the first week we were here. It is growing really well, and some early items have already found their way to our table.

First we had radishes. They come so fast and are welcome in our salads, being sweet without much heat in them. The next item is always greens and I have grown to really like collards with olive oil, garlic and bacon.

I put in collard plants and they are very hardy and fast growing. We had our first collard greens last week and we will be getting more each week now. Everything else takes a bit longer, but the garden is looking great.

On the real outdoor front, I have done some fishing, but the results have been far from spectacular. In the fall of 2011 I met Dean and Ann Drake from Central Square through my column. He called me and we got together up home. He is a long time hunter and fishermen and we had a great time swapping tales. He came to Florida for a week last spring. I told him if he came to let me know and we would get out fishing. He did and we did.

We caught some fish, but what Dean enjoyed the most was gathering oysters and then the eating of them afterwards. We had oysters on the half shell, oyster stew and fried oysters. Dean liked them so well that he came back to Florida this February for a month and we have been fishing and oystering.

We fished from the Wabasso Causeway south of us here, but the fishing there is not much better than it is right up here near Barefoot Bay — and it stinks here.

We caught some small stuff, but one fisherman near us caught a very nice bluefish. He didn’t want him and asked us if we would. I took the blue, bled him out and put him on ice in our cooler. Some folks are not very fond of bluefish, and in their defense, I would be the first to admit that if they are not cared for properly and quickly, bluefish are not good for much other than fertilizer in the garden.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

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