A Garden Experiment

A Garden Experiment

Are you a hunter or a gatherer, or both? How about a gardener or a farmer, either by nature or nurture, or maybe a combination thereof?  Whatever the reason(s), I think at least a smidgen of all of those names would apply to me, in addition to several others, some of which are even printable.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of planting and tending gardens with my mother and other relatives.  Uncle D. wanted his potatoes in the ground by St Patrick’s day, weather permitting.  Aunt C. told me the sweet corn should be tasseling by the 4th of July.  A distant cousin whose name I don’t even recall taught me that one of the sweetest vegetables in the world is the garden-fresh pea, popped out of the pod and straight into a 10-year-old’s mouth, right off the vine . . . and I didn’t even like peas!

After several years of hiatus from the hobby, I’m thankful to have a garden growing out back of my house again.  The weather’s been so wet that it’s not as far along as I would have liked, but I’m experimenting with a new system this season. With rare foresight, I’ve been saving the triple-layered paper sacks that formerly surrounded 50 pounds of feed for my chickens.  With a stout pair of scissors, I nipped the folded-in bottom corners and made long cuts up the sides, then placed the opened flat bags end-to-end between the rows of squash, cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, etc. The paper was then covered with thick flakes of last-year’s hay.  Straw would probably be better for this, but hay is what I have available.  Additional tufts of hay were tamped down between the plants within the rows of the larger items.  I’ll still have to weed the lettuce row, for instance, but in a large part of the garden this method should (hopefully) block the weeds, hold in the moisture, give me clean material on which to walk, and add the bonus of being biodegradable.

I’ll keep y’all posted on how it goes.  Feel free to leave a comment with your garden solutions if you like, and if you have any ideas on what is eating holes in the leaves of my eggplant, and what I can (organically) do about it, let me know.  Happy Gardening!

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Eat Your Vegetables . . .

Eat Your Vegetables . . .

Didn’t we all hear that enough times while growing up to burn it into our memories forever?  Well, most of us, anyway.  Not my niece A., surely, since she became a  vegetarian at a very tender age.  After watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid she stopped eating fish, and then a few years later the movie Babe put the skids to hotdogs ever appearing on her plate again.  But I digress.

Recently, that very niece and her mom (my beloved sister) told me about Kale Chips.

“What?”

“Kale Chips” they said.  “They’re great!”

“OK . . . tell me about those.”

And so they did.  And I made a mental note, thinking maybe I’d try these.  This weekend, I finally did.  And believe it or not, I like ’em!  Traditionally, I’m more of a popcorn or pretzel or cookie kind of snacker, but these are better than edible, they’re actually good.  Crispy, yet slightly chewy, with a pleasant flavor.  And from what I read about Kale, it’s even good for us, so you can eat these chips and get one of your daily vegetable servings out of the way at the same time.

Here’s the recipe I used:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour about 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a medium bowl.  Add a little salt, pepper, garlic powder.

Wash 3-4 curly kale leaves and blot them dry on a paper towel.

Place kale leaf upside down on a cutting board.  Cut out the center rib, or at least most of it. Cut or break up the leaf into chip-sized pieces.  Place pieces in the bowl.  Repeat with other leaves.

Use a rubber scraper or wooden spoon to gently stir and turn the kale pieces in the bowl to coat them with the seasoned oil.  Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake 8 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the oven door slightly ajar with the pan in place for 2 minutes more.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before eating.

That’s it!  Yesterday I added just a hint of curry powder to the oil, and that was tasty.  Today I substituted a smidgen of nutmeg for the curry powder, and added a packet of leftover parmesan cheese from a carry-out pizza order.  Another method says to place the kale on the baking sheet, mist with the oil from a spray bottle, then sprinkle on the seasonings.  I don’t have an oil mister, but the bowl method was really simple and fast.

Now let’s hear your variations!