Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mini Harvest

Last year I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and was totally inspired to grow all my family's vegetables on our own land. You should definitely read the book - it is non fiction written like fiction and is super entertaining. Plus it will make you more excited about gardening that you have ever been in your life. Anyways, this year I set out to grow at least 5 times more vegetables than I did last year. But in spite of the fact that I planted tons more seeds than I normally do, my 30% success rate has held fast, and we are left with a decent garden that is producing only about one third of the vegetables we eat. Oh well.
I have never been a natural gardener - I am one of those people who can't even keep house plants alive. But I have learned over the last 11 years, particularly in the area of fending off pests. Up here on the hill we have to protect every crop from every side. I grow all vegetables in raised beds with gopher wire on the bottoms, then cover them with bird netting over the top. This keeps pretty much everything except bugs out of the crops and has helped things survive a bit better. But I can't for the life of me get carrots to grow. This year, despite planting literally hundreds of carrot seeds, I grew 5. These three we ate yesterday, and I'm leaving the remaining two in the ground to get super big so I don't feel so cheated. I'll be trying for carrots again in the fall.
This is our first mini harvest: in addition to the carrots, there were a zucchini, a little crook neck squash, and two purple beans which miraculously grew on a bush that had every single leaf munched off by snails. We ate this stuff in a flash, and I was left wishing I had planted a bigger garden. All this just fuels my plans for fall, and I've been going through seed packets getting things ready and hovering over my current plants wondering how to make them grow faster or if I should pull them out in favor of more promising fall items. I guess this impatience isn't a good quality in a gardener. The tomatoes are the one thing helping me bide my time - every day I go outside I see that a few more of them are approaching ripeness, and I remember my husband's salsa, and I decide to let the poor garden work on its own schedule.
In case you have a harvest more plentiful than mine, I thought I'd share a favorite recipe of ours - this is a nice make-ahead dinner idea that my kids love, always a bonus when you are using up extra veggies.

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 red onion, finely diced
hand full of fresh basil, chopped
diced tomato
diced avocado
whatever other fresh veggies you have on hand, chopped

1.) Cook the quinoa according to package directions, and put in the fridge to cool down while you cut up all your veggies.

2.) Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, the pour over quinoa and mix well.

3.) Stir in all the veggies, mix well. Season the salad with salt to taste.

4.) Serve as is, or in lettuce cups (I just use big leaves of butter lettuce, but any lettuce will do as long as it is large-leafed) or with chilled grilled chicken.


1 comment:

  1. Last year David planted carrots in the summer garden, but they were pretty puny so we left them to overwinter (pretty much thinking they'd die). This Spring we were rewarded with GIANT carrots. I made carrot ginger soup with them.