Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Garden Quote of the Day

Me, taking apart and washing a cabbage I picked yesterday: "Wow, there's an amazing amount of, um, habitat in a cabbage. It's like some kind of huge condo complex."

Spouse: "I really enjoy the things you are growing and cooking for us. I will enjoy them even more without hearing things like that."

It's some kind of loosely heading cabbage, and let's just say it was a good idea to pull the leaves off and rinse off each one. But it was *nothing* compared to the time that my friend Celeste and I made salad from organic lettuce in New Mexico. Not when the 3rd rinse bowl still looked like the aftermath of the Titanic, with no lifeboats in sight. I guess that there wasn't a single patch of green anywhere in the desert except that lettuce patch. If we weren't so fussy, we could have gotten a full day's supply of protein just from that salad. Eeek.

My cabbage was tame, tame, tame, in comparison, just a slug or two and some venturesome aphids in the onesy-twosy kind of numbers. OK, I had to peel off the huge outer leaves of the cabbage to get the aphids down to onesy-twosy. Next year, floating row cover. Slugs I can handle, they don't multiply geometrically. I wish I knew what to use the outer leaves for, other than the yardwaste/compost bin. They seem way too tough to use for cooking.

Speaking of floating row cover, the little hoop of it that I am using over the chard is working really well, no leaf-miners (thrips) on it yet. In San Jose, they pretty much destroyed the same kind of chard at all leaf sizes. I didn't know to use the floating row cover then, as I didn't know what they were. I just knew they were completely gross. :-)

Steamed fresh chard is turning out to really rock. I didn't like it when I tried chard from the store, seemed too bitter. The key seems to be picking it when small, at about half the size or less of the huge leaves in bunches from the store. Picked small, even the stems are tasty and not stringy. I just put in another patch of beets, and one of Asian spinach. Maybe I will tuck some more chard in somewhere too. It's yummy.


Blogger Genie said...


I had to chuckle at the cabbage condo...funny stuff. Enjoy your bounty, and I'm glad you're growing to like the swiss chard -- that stuff's incredible! One suggestion for preparation, gleaned from my boyfriend's mother, is to slice it or chop it into fairly manageable smallish pieces, then saute a little garlic and shallot in some olive oil, then throw in the chard and about 3/4 to 1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth. Bring the whole mess to a strong simmer, and put a lid on it. Meanwhile, prepare some gnocchi in another pan, and when the chard is bright green and tender, throw the gnocchi in with the chard/garlic/shallot/broth, toss it all around, and serve it up in bowls with plenty of fresh-ground pepper, kosher salt and freshly-grated parmesan. So simple, so nourishing, and so delicious.

Have a wonderful day!

The Inadvertent Gardener

6:36 AM PDT  
Blogger Jeanne said...

I'm sorry to hear about your cabbage, but I'm glad its not just me that that happens to! I actually gave up growing anything fromt the brassicaeceae family because of that exact problem. And mine were impossible to clean, similiar to your experience in New Mexico. I also got it with spinach and artichokes. Great Blog for the Bay Area. Do you ever take classes at Common Ground? I noticed you recommend John Jevons book. I have taken classes that follow his principles. Really great.

10:05 AM PDT  
Blogger Christa said...

Leaf miners. I wonder if that is what's bugging my chard too? I haven't tried floating row covers but maybe that's the next step.

I find with chard that it's always best to use the small leaves and cut them into tiny pieces. Otherwise it can sometimes be kind of tough. But it tastes delicious, doesn't it?

5:39 PM PDT  
Blogger California Gardener in Zone 23 said...

I stopped growing lettuces through the winter because of the habitat problem. I would wash and wash and then find a little slug holding onto a romaine lettuce leaf! Uggg. I felt I couldn't waste the water to get the lettuce clean. So I get my green mix from Costco now. The water bill dropped in half!

9:27 AM PDT  

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