Kitchen Garden Guides

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Excited by something green

I knew I was a bit more passionate about growing vegetables than some, or even most, people but I did not realise that the reason may well be that a lot of people just are not very excited about vegetables, full stop.

I spent the morning gardening in a lush and productive vegetable garden belonging to one of our Wednesday gardening group. One of the jobs was to remove an enormous, but evidently not very good, artichoke. Chatting to one of the others, we thought that this might have been a cardoon, so long and thick were its leaf stalks and this would account for its earlier crop of small but plentiful “artichokes”.

After a good time digging all the way to China to get to the bottom of its root system, we divided it up and I removed most of the lush growth, so that the offshoots could be given away, if anyone wanted them. I stood there on that hillside, looking down at the patchwork of farms in the picturesque valley below, my thoughts constantly interrupted by a cow insisting on attention on the other side of the veg garden fence. The wind was cold but I was in the lea of a wall and the sun was warm. Life sometimes is amazingly good.

I stripped off the celery-like strings of one of the “artichoke” leaf stalks and bit into it to see if it was edible. Wow, I thought, this is crisp, incredibly juicy and very edible; a great celery substitute for winter. I called over Frances for a bite and she agreed, very edible and nice. So I gathered some of the juiciest looking leaf stalks for everyone to take home and eat and prepared one for them all to try while we had morning tea a bit later.

When the coffee gong sounded I took our discovery and sliced it up like celery, put it all into a bowl and offered it around….. silence…. “it tastes like nothing”…..”not very interesting is it”….and then..… “oh greens…. yeah I must try to get to like them.”

What!? I am still so stunned I cannot think what to write. Here was a discovery for adding a juicy crunch to winter salads the length and breadth of the Huon Valley and only Sandra was at all interested. Greens…. well, what do you eat if you don’t eat greens? There’s a limit to the number of potatoes and carrots I can eat…. my meals are full of greens from my garden of every sort, from Asia to America and European cultures. My life would be empty without greens and arms full of herbs, in soups, salads, casseroles and served with or for every meal.

The penny dropped…. is this why people are not passionate about growing food like I am? Is this why only Frances and I wanted to work in the vegetable garden while everyone else chose other jobs? Do I need to change my approach and, instead of offering to show people how to grow vegetables, I first need to show them how to eat them?

It has been in my mind for a year or so….a new workshop in my kitchen….

”Cook with me from My Garden”

Every week (summer) or maybe month (winter, when things grow so slowly) a small group of people would come and gather food from my garden and together we would make it into a deliciously simple but tasty and healthy meal in my kitchen, and then eat together. I would help people shop from their gardens; seeing their gardens (or even the new local, seasonal greengrocer “The Cygnet Garden Larder”) as their primary source of food. I would show them my cookbooks, arranged by season or alphabetically by ingredient and how invaluable it is to be able to get ideas for cooking with whatever is available.









Below left…. preparing Belgian Endive clusters for over-wintering in the dark. image


Below right….winter salad from my garden…irresistible, I think!






I have to be prepared for resistance….. I have to encourage and educate sweetly (oh dear)….

I am determined to offer wellness, vitality and an uplifted spirit…

Of all the things I do with gusto and success, this is the one I have the most passion for and the one I am most nervous about, at the same time.

Life is good….. but a whole lot better with home grown greens and herbs everyday.


africanaussie said...

What a wonderful idea, but gosh be prepared for it to be a hard slog. I am afraid people seem to have lost the taste for vegetables.

Maggie said...

Great idea Kate.
You are such an amazing cook I am sure you will have great fun and great yummy home grow feasts.

Daphne said...

I think that is a real problem for some. Personally I can't live without greens. Of the 228lbs I've harvested 155lbs of them are greens of some kind. Though I do confess to not liking the bitter salad greens. Every other green I've liked, some more than others.

Anonymous said...

re your idea, what about starting off with 10 things you can grow as quickly and as easily as a "weed"?
Instant gratification = motivation
=wanting to know and learn more.
Maybe these 10 things could form an entire meal or half a meal. I'd want to know how I can chop some of my shopping list up by substituting eg: lettuce for dandelion leaves&naturtium salad.
like your idea and wish you success.

Deborah Cantrill said...

Good idea Kate. I tried it once a long time ago but I only got one taker so gave up - the same goes for teaching them how to grow vegetables- everyone is an expert but few 'experts' grow anything -just talk about it!! but maybe smaller communities work better at getting the message across.
I'm glad your still eating cardoons- I find the smaller stems are good in winter salads, soups and stews.

The Bok Flock said...

Fantastic idea!! I've found salt and lemon juice makes everyone a fan of raw greens in my household

Grumbleweed Studios said...

I have to admit I have am very recent convert to greens. I used to eat them but not with zeal or even any enthusiasm. What changed my mind? I recently read Outside the magic square, by Lolo Houbein. Its about backyard gardening and food security. I never knew that Green Veg was high in Omegas and could provide protein as well as all the vitamins and minerals and anitoxdiants. She also mentioned to have a really healthy green dish add many herbs and stir fry quickly with olive oil. I have to admit it was the tasty kale I have ever eaten. I have been growing a few sad specimens that well I can't live of everyday so I have been investigating container gardening to maximize my green growing. Herbs really make a difference to me.