Thursday, August 2, 2007

Runaway Garden

A garden waits for no man and that should be perfectly clear. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when we arrived home after two weeks in Mexico. Our friends Helen and Tomeika have been doing a great job of watering through the depths of summer in Washington, D.C. So everything is lush and green.

As I suspected, the tomatoes are already growing out of their cages. They are like wild animals, almost impossible to contain without constant attention. There were many cucumbers that had grown to almost enormous size, but not too big that they can't be pickled. (Wave for the camera, dear.)

The bush beans I planted obviously are not bush beans at all but climbing string beans with nothing to climb on. Otherwise the beans have been a bit of a disappointment this season. Not much production there.

More than anything, though, I am ticked at the okra. I planted burgundy okra for the first time and haven't been able to eat any of it. There were many pods on the plants this morning and I organized a meal around them. But when I began to slice them it was apparent immediately that they were old and tough and sinewy, even though they looked great. (The plants themselves are no more than 18 inches tall, very strange, since I am used to looking at okra at least a foot over my head).

I can't imagine a summer without okra, yet this may be one. Shame on me for not planting some of last year's seeds.

But enough whining. I pulled up several edamame plants loaded with beans. They could have been picked a week ago but still there was a ton of them. I blanched them in salted water, saved some for our drive to Maine and placed the rest in the freezer for later. Our daughter loves edamame beans, and so simple. She just pops them right out of the pod into her mouth.

The potato plants have wilted and nearly disappeared, many of them. So I fetched my forked spade to see what might be going on under the surface and sure enough scooped up a load of potatoes in all sizes, red and purple mostly. We have a 20-foot-long bed of potatoes so I figure we will be eating them for quite some time.

Dinner was supposed to be smothered okra with onions and corn, but since the okra was a bust I quickly changed course and opted for some dark Italian kale. We have plenty, and where I was once worried whether it would survive it is growing gangbusters.

To make a meal for four persons, or a side dish for six to eight, Start by sauteing some sliced onions out of the garden in extra-virgin olive oil, then lower the heat and add some minced garlic that has been "curing" the last three weeks since we harvested it, maybe four cloves. Cover with a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, including juices. Then remove the ribs from about 8 ounces of dark kale leaves, such as Lacinato. Slice these finely and add to the pot with some salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar. Cook over low heat until the greens are tender, at least an hour.

Remove the kernels from two ears of corn and place these in the pot as well for a few minutes. Meanwhile, cook separately a pound or so of freshly dug potatoes cut into chunks. When tender, drain these. To serve, spoon some of the greens over the potatoes, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and dust with Parmesan cheese.


Tana said...

I am so happy with our garden this year. Last year's tomatoes had maybe three or six at the most on any plant. They looked like they'd undergone chemo.

This year, boy HOWDY: the garden's throwing things over the fence. I think I'll head out there now and see what's up!

: D

Blackswamp_Girl said...

That kale is absolutely gorgeous. By the way, I found your blog via Idaho Gardener... and I will come back and eat more after I eat. Just reading a few posts has suddenly made me very very hungry. :)