Remember: giants sleep too soundly; [W]itches are often betrayed by their appetites; dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always; hearts can be well-hidden, and you can betray them with your tongue.
~Neil Gaiman “Instructions”
* Just now, a few days out from Lughnasadah and a few weeks ahead of Mabon, I’ve been thinking a lot about food. About Witches and their appetites.
I’ve mentioned that this past, bitter-cold Winter killed off most of the plants in my herb bed. I lost half a dozen giant, old rosemary bushes, new lavender plants, a huge colony of German mountain sage . . . . Early this Spring, I was lamenting my loss to Landscape Guy when he reminded me that I never managed to use or give away enough of those herbs. He suggested that I look at my loss as an opportunity, as a chance to grow more of my own food here, on my little Bit of Earth.
Of course, he was right.
My herb bed is small, but I bought a grow light and put in six (way too many) pattypan squash plants, fish pepper plants, CalRed Pepper plants, Swiss chard, (too many) bok choys, lettuce, French Breakfast radishes, two new rosemary plants, and dill. The French thyme and French tarragon came back. I harvested more garlic than I can imagine using and put sunflowers in where the garlic had been.
I also grew cardoons, which I’ve always heard taste like artichokes. I’m counting the cardoons as a failure. The plants are huge, but they don’t taste like artichoke to me — they just taste bitter. I’m going to try blanching them to see if that helps. Otherwise, out they come.
But everything else has been producing more food than I can eat. I am eating a healthier diet, simply trying to keep up with all of those greens (and squash!). I’ve been freezing what I can, and giving some away, but my freezer’s almost full. Landscape Guy says I should get a separate freezer and freeze enough to make soup all Winter, and I may do it, once I’m sure that we’ve finally stopped the basement from flooding in our heavy, GCC (global climate change, according to G/Son) rains.
G/Son will pick squash and peppers for me (a skinny eight-year-old can really squeeze between the plants), but what he really loves, for some reason, is to pull a plant up whole from the ground. He’s not a big fan of eating bok choy, but he loves to pull a big, fat bok choy plant up from out of the ground and take it home with him. His mom grills them for a salad. Today, he kept pulling the radishes: “Just one more Nonna. Look this is big. Wait, I found a bigger one. They get fat under ground. I found another. You can make soup from the greens, OK?”
He likes to eat carrots and, next year, I am totally going to grow some carrots for him to pull out of the ground.
* Okra is a real Southern vegetable. The little plants produce a bounty here, but the secret (just as it is with, ahem, pattypan squash) is to get outside everyday and pick the fruits while they are small. I’ve been serving these to all of my guests, to good reviews, although I substitute thyme for the oregano.
* I eat the radishes sliced quite thin and placed on a slice of good bread spread with butter. Heaven.
* I’m still looking for a recipe for fish pepper sauce.
What are you growing? What are you cooking? What are you preserving for later? What will you grow less of next year?
Picture found here.