Several of my friends know I’m a garden geek. Lately, a common question is: “So Ken, the garden’s pretty much done, huh?” “No, there’s still plenty to do,” I reply to their surprise. Of course, some folks are indeed done with growing food; but our garden still has lots of groceries waiting for us.
Autumn is in full swing here in Beautiful West Michigan; and in the garden there are still many chores to be done. Clearing out withered remnants of warm weather crops is of course one of those. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant don’t do so well after a frost. Although I’ve been known to erect makeshift tents with tarps, poles, and bailing twine to save a few plants that still have fruit; there comes a point of diminishing return. Might frost tonight, but I’m ready to move on to the rest of the food plants and let Mother Nature take her course with the sensitive stuff. Whatever dies gets pulled out of the ground and thrown into the compost pile.
“What do you have left to pick?” my friends wonder aloud. The answer: squash, kale, beets, carrots, potatoes, wild cabbage (ancestor to kale), Swiss chard, parsley, rhubarb, and a little cilantro. Oh, and there are of course a few straggler tomatoes and such that survive the first couple of frost nippings.
My friend Kit was asking me these kinds of questions just the other day. Then he tickled my funny bone by asking, “do you eat everything you grow?” “Well,” I replied with a smirk, “we give some of it away…” I couldn’t help smiling a bit more as I visualized myself eating ALL of the produce in one big snarfing session (what can I say, I get amused easily). “No,” he wondered, “I mean do you eat all the kinds of vegetables you grow?” “Well sure!” I responded with a grin. By this time my warped mind silently kicked into silliness overdrive with possible responses:
“Well, we like to plant all kinds of weird, disgusting foods so we can watch them mature and them mow them down with the tractor.”
“No, I just like busting my hiney to grow food so I can make some kick-butt compost with it!!”
“Whadda you nuts?? Vegetables are disgusting!!”
Seriously though, yes we do indeed eat what we grow; and I’ve gotten better at planning the garden according to what my Beautiful Girlfriend and I both like to eat. That’s not very difficult since we both pretty much like any vegetable put in front of us. She’s very tolerant when I plant different things for the fun of it. Ground cherries are one example of a home run with my Honey Pie, she really loves those things. Well OK, I like them a lot too!!
A byproduct of living the first 3 years of marriage in the south was that both of us are smitten by greens. Kale, wild cabbage, Swiss chard, and beet greens are some of our favorites. We eat them steamed as a side vegetable; mixed into a stir fry; added to and egg “scramble” (sauteed mushrooms, onions and other veggies cooked into scrambled eggs with a little shredded cheese on top). These days I have greens almost every day for lunch at work. So simple… the night before I just chop some up stems and all; then toss them into a Pyrex bowl with diced onions and whatever protein is left over from dinner. Into the fridge they go till lunch time the next day. Couple minutes in the microwave and lunch is ready!
In case any of you are wondering, yes, we did consider ourselves vegetarians early in our marriage. We ate eggs and dairy products, but no meat. Why? Health reasons of course, but our belief system was evolving too. We didn’t like the idea of killing so we could eat; but then we watched shows like Wild America and Nature. Those programs illustrated the fact that all animals, large and small, are part of a diverse tapestry of beings that will either eat or be eaten. Kind of flushed the killing stuff in the toilet for me… and besides, to paraphrase a bumper sticker, if our Creator didn’t intend for us to eat animals, they should never have been made of meat!! I did my share of hunting when I was a kid, but would rather not do that anymore. To this day we still eat a lot of veggies, but don’t eat very much red meat at all… mostly dead fish and dead chicken.
And you may not be wondering, but I asked my friend Kit if it was OK to have some fun at his expense for this week’s “Happy Friday!!!” So thank you Kit! Sometimes the creative well runs a bit dry and this helped the words flow.
Speaking of word flow, that has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween; but because it’s just around the corner I thought I’d share this very old but very cool cartoon we watched with our grandsons tonight.