Monday, June 3, 2013

The garden lives!

Every spring we plant our vegetable garden with great optimism that this year, finally, we will tend it well throughout the summer and our bounty will be great and this will be the best garden EVER. Then some crisis arises or someone gets sick, and the poor garden ends up a giant weed patch graced by a few tomatoes and beans.

This spring was no exception: we've had several hospital adventures, and then both Mulch Boy and I endured several weeks of various respiratory illnesses, resulting in--once again--the complete neglect of the garden.

HOWEVER, under the watchful eye of Mulch Boy, I was allowed to sit in the dirt and weed for a half hour Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. And as a result, the garden is not completely ruined. As a matter of fact, it's doing quite well, thank you.

Ta da!
Clockwise from bottom left: volunteer cherry tomatoes, English peas, potatoes potatoes
potatoes, mesclun (just harvested), garlic, and kale. Hidden behind the potatoes:
more potatoes (volunteers), carrots, and parsnips.
Next to cornbread, the garden has been the most comforting thing to me lately, and I think this may actually be the summer where we really DO keep up with it. For the first time ever, I actually had a multi-season plan for the garden, starting with some cold-weather crops (the peas, kale, lettuce) that would be replaced with summer crops like tomatoes and peppers. The prolonged cold this spring has thrown off the timing for this plan, but it's still within reach and I plan to follow through. Basil and peppers will be going where the just-harvested mesclun  was, and then tomatoes and more peppers will take over the kale and pea spots once they're harvested.

We have had disappointment, though. Bush beans have always, ALWAYS, been our most successful crop, but this year, they didn't even germinate.  I believe I sowed the bean seeds too soon, and the long-lasting cold killed them. Instead, we ended up with a second patch of potatoes, all volunteers.

However, there must be beans. So I've decided that as soon as the volunteer taters blossom, we're just going to harvest that entire patch as new potatoes, and then I'll resow with more bean seeds. Adrian Higgins said it was time to put beans in the ground a few weeks ago, so I don't think it's too late.

Back to those cold-weather crops, though. The peas plants are covered in blossoms and pods, and I'm hoping we'll be able to have at least one nice mess of peas before the heat kills them. Then there's the kale. We've decided we like kale and plan to make it a garden staple.

Mighty in vitamins?
The mighty kale.
We harvested our first kale this weekend, and I made a really terrific bean and kale salad out of it, which went great with cornbread. In fact, it was so good, I'm going to share it here. It's ridiculously easy, and surprisingly fabulous, and it's going on regular meal rotation at our house. This is adapted from this recipe on Dinner: A Love Story, one of my favorite websites.

White Bean and Kale Salad

small bunch of kale
two garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes to taste
2 cans of cannelini beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped red onion OR 2 scallions, finely sliced, including the greens
a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon,
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, saute the garlic and kale in a little oil for 2-3 minutes, or until the kale is slightly wilted. Turn off the heat, then add the beans, onion, olive oil,  and lemon juice. Mix, salt and pepper to taste, and serve it up smugly because it's delicious and healthy, too, and tastes way more amazing than you would ever expect.


  1. Best peas ever!!!!!! All sixteen of them.

    -Mulch Boy

  2. HA! Just added a post about those peas. I'm thinking of planting them along the fence in the front yard next year.