Tag Archives: kale

A Wealth of Veggie Information

I stopped in at one of my local grocery stores the other day, the Murrayville Marketplace IGA, to pick up some fresh ginger and boy did I get an earful more. It was awesome. Not only did I get the ginger I came for, I also found local kale on special “grown right around the corner” and more information on veggies and fruit than I ever thought possible in a 7.5 minute span. Warren, the produce manager, was a wealth of information. This guy is jazzed about produce and talks really, really fast.

kaleIt started with the kale, which looked great so I took two and was having trouble stuffing into the bag. That’s when Warren offered to help and advised it was local, local. As in right here, local. That, of course makes me happy. Which led to a comment about the lemons, which having been advertised as coming from South Africa, did not make me happy. Whereupon I was advised that they weren’t from South Africa, they were actually from California. Which since lemons don’t grow here or anywhere near here, is as local as I’m ever going to get and significantly more local than South Africa. Which makes me happy.

I’m not exactly sure how we got from California lemons to Hawaiian avocados, but from there he solved a dilemma I’ve been having with said vegetable — avocados in general, not the Hawaiian kind specifically.

Now, you know I love local and do what I can to make food choices that fit the criteria. But I do have my weaknesses and avocados are one. However, I can’t seem to get them to ripen lately. Especially when I buy them from the big box warehouse store — you know the one. They turn brown on the outside but are rock hard on the inside. “What gives?”

That’s when I learned the trick to ripening avocados. Warren told me all fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens and if you want to ripen something you just increase the amount of ethylene in its vicinity. His suggestion: put a banana or two in a plastic bag along with the unripened avocados, seal it, and presto, in a day or two you’ve got ripe avocados. Bananas give off a lot of ethylene so they are the perfect “gassing” agent. Also, heat helps so put the bag on top of the fridge. However, do keep an eye on them as too much of a good thing can cause “burning” or uneven ripening. If it gets too gassy and hot, just pop a hole or two in the bag.

Now, gassing one’s fruit sounds very chemical-ish and therefore nasty, but a little research turned up that it’s actually an ancient, naturally occurring practice:

“Ethylene has been used since the ancient Egyptians, who would gash figs in order to stimulate ripening (wounding stimulates ethylene production by plant tissues). The ancient Chinese would burn incense in closed rooms to enhance the ripening of pears.”                     Source: Wikipedia

Of course, today’s process isn’t quite as natural as when the Egyptians did it, as it’s done on a mass scale, but it IS how you get ripe fruit that comes from great distances. So if you want bananas that aren’t mush by the time you get them, you’ll be eating ones that have been gassed.

After that little exploration into the world of fruit and veg, I’m pondering what other dilemmas Warren may be able to solve and thinking up some really tough questions so I can go in and test him. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Green beans and broccoli from the garden, regular and heritage carrots from the farmers market, and "grown around the corner" kale. I forgot to include the fresh ginger.

Thai Green Curry: Green beans and broccoli from the garden, regular and heritage carrots from the farmers market, and “grown around the corner” kale. I forgot to include the fresh ginger.


Bumbling Gardener Update

Garden Jul19I am pleased as punch. My backyard garden on borrowed land — whether because of, or in spite of my attempts — looks awesome. I’ve been eating cabbage, kale, broccoli, snow peas, regular peas, and even the occasional yellow wax bean, with no end of tasty produce in sight.

I suspect that the soil, though clay-ish in some places and low lying (and therefore prone to pooling water) in others, is pretty darn good quality. That, or the manure and bone meal added in at the beginning has made a big difference. (Its nutrients certainly haven’t been depleted by anything other than weeds in the past 10+ years, so maybe it’s been stock piling!)

With all the other plant life in the area, the garden is prone to a multitude of weeds, but many of the crops do not seem to be affected. Plus, the straw mulch is doing its work rather handily in many spots.

There is a surge in clover growth along the edges of the garden, which I understand indicates good nitrogen content in the soil. This may also be why the peas are growing like crazy — they can’t get enough of the stuff. Clover was not in evidence in the yard at the beginning of this gardening experiment, so I’d be curious to know if it needed the cleared space that the walkways provide, or whether the improved soil conditions are to blame.

First StrawberriesI haven’t had much success with some veggies, such as carrots and radishes, but I’ve discovered in recent weeks that’s due to my own ignorance and lack of attention to detail — when they first sprout, you’re supposed to thin them out. Some of my seed packets said not to, but the successful radish grower at the local farmers market set me straight. Better late than never? Maybe I’ll try some in my box garden, which is closer to home where I can keep a closer eye on things.

The spinach and all lettuce seeds have had a zero yield, despite a second planting at the height of warm weather — I have no idea what’s up with that. There is an ant nest in the area where most of the salad greens were planted and I do wonder if they wandered off with the seeds.

There are lots of tomatoes on the vine, but none have turned red yet. They are getting very plump, though!

Aside from 3 that reached maturity, the strawberries are a complete loss. There were about 8 little berries that something (Mr. Squirrel, me thinks) got a hold of and munched at the beginning of the season. This prompted the construction of a sophisticated mesh covering, but no further berries, or flowers for that matter, have appeared.Strawberry Safety Net

The weird thing is, the stuff that’s supposed to be the easiest hasn’t grown for me and the “difficult” plants like broccoli and cabbage, are coming along nicely. But, despite some challenges and no baby spinach in sight, I am inordinately pleased each time I am able to harvest and eat something out of the garden.

Early July Harvest

Lone RaspberryAlong with the bounty of broccoli the first week in July, I also harvested a huge bag of kale (my new favourite stir fry veggie), more snow and regular peas than I could carry in two hands, a single raspberry, and my first ever cabbage.

Confession, the peas didn’t make it out of the garden. The only thing better than fresh raspberries, warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine — is plump, juicy, fresh green peas, warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine. Really, it was just efficiency; the pea pods went straight into the compost bin. Consider it the circle of life — and a very delicious circle at that.

1st CabbageThe cabbage I harvested was a full 6″ in diameter once all the outer, ratty looking leaves were removed. That’s bigger than it sounds! The thing that surprised me is that it’s crisp, juicy and crunchy compared to the ones I buy at the supermarket.

The kale is amazing. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Yum, yum! I still haven’t gotten tired of the sauteed in butter with fresh lemon kind, but quite a few people have mentioned other options, including tossing it in olive oil and baking it in the oven until it’s crisp and crunchy like chips. That sounds interesting, especially if I sprinkle a little seasoning on it. I’ve also heard it’s good in soup and stew, so I’m sure I’ll be checking online for additional recipes, once I’ve tried every possible combination of herbs from the balcony (thyme, sage, lemon basil, regular basil, green onions, chives, oregano, cilantro, and parsley).

What I really love about the kale is that in one day from 4 plants, I harvested what would cost est. $24 at the farmers market. And it just keeps growing!

Fresh Kale for Dinner

I had my first ever, fresh, homegrown kale for dinner and it was delicious! Okay, I’m a little over-excited, I’ll admit. But I didn’t expect it to taste so good.

Fresh KaleI’ve only ever had kale once before, at a restaurant, and it was slightly bitter. I didn’t dare tell the Scientist, who has a severe aversion to anything that might have even a remote chance of being bitter.

The kale was so easy, I can’t believe I’ve never cooked it before. I went to my garden, cut a few big leaves, trimmed out the stalks, rinsed, chopped. I sautéed sliced garlic in butter, tossed in the kale, added salt, sautéed till just softened, then served. It took about 5 minutes. And did I mention it was delicious?!

When I decided that maybe there was a little too much salt, I added a squeeze of fresh lemon. Even better.

In fact, I assured my table mates that I wouldn’t be offended if they didn’t want to any more than try it (because I could happily have eaten the whole thing myself).

For the skeptics, let me tell you, the Scientist even ate some and didn’t hate it.

Garden Update Mid-June

After 10 days away from my garden, I was keen to check in and see how things are coming along.

Garden Update Jun17In a nutshell, stuff is growing! This in itself is a wonderful thing, which I don’t take for granted. I mean, if it were up to my expertise, the seeds I planted would be sunk. Fortunately, they know what to do without much help from me.

The broccoli is growing like crazy without much to show for it. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m supposed to be clipping off the lower leaves to help the plant focus on bearing fruit, so to speak. I’ll have to check into that. In the meantime, after dinner I did discover one floret which will be eaten soon. The book I checked recommended harvesting to encourage more growth, and that’s all the encouragement I need.

A few weeks back I mulched the garden via a couple of found bales of straw. As far as I can tell, the mulch isn’t doing much to keep the weeds out, but I think that may be because it’s not laid out thickly enough. This I can remedy.

<b> Radishes Gone Wild</b>

Radishes Gone Wild

My mutant radishes keep wanting to go to seed. I’ve never seen such huge radish leaves in my life! I’ve chopped off countless seed stalks but they just keep coming. A couple of weeks ago I tested one of the radishes, which was long, thin, white (no hint of red in sight) and very sharp and peppery. Yum! But I’m not sure they are “ripe” since they do not resemble any of the pictures on the packages of 3 kinds of radishes I thought I planted. (Adding to the confusion is that the Scientist, in a fit of spring cleaning, seems to have tossed out my lovely, meticulously, handwritten garden map. Oops!)

The kale is coming along nicely, now I just need to find a recipe and try and figure out how to get the Scientist to try some. He’s not really a veggie kind of guy…unless there is butter or sugar slathered on for disguise. He has, however and thanks to my efforts, discovered that he quite likes asparagus as well as grilled bell peppers of all colours. This is progress!

<b>Happy Snow Peas</b>

Happy Snow Peas

The snow peas are climbing like crazy, and it’s clear I need to get the climber mesh up at the end of plot C before the last ones planted start to topple. The green beans in the far corner, on the other hand, don’t seem to happy. I may need to move them out of that low lying area and into a new spot. Or add some dirt and replant them there?

And finally the bell peppers. Those poor guys have been completely eclipsed by the broccoli and are now completely shaded. When I originally planted, the plan was to keep the smaller stuff in back. Note to self: broccoli grows big, fast. Peppers, not so much.