Bitty Broccoli

broccoli
Top: Greensgrow
Below: PODgrown

Maybe it’s time to admit defeat.

Earlier this month we received our first winter CSA share from the good people at Greensgrow. It was gorgeous. And the ensuing lemon chicken with broccoli was delicious.

Speaking of broccoli, the broccoli was especially envy-making…given that POD’s broccoli is in a pretty pathetic state.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of fateful kale…

Waaay back in August, a shopping spree at that very same urban CSA mecca resulted in a deck full of cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Oh, my.

But what the CSA gods provideth, the nursery demons taketh away: just days later the starts proved themselves to be crawling in loopers. Squish, squish. Problem solved.

BUT then, a couple weeks after that, a particularly nasty-looking aphid took over. All new for 2012, people: Cabbage aphids! Which, apparently, tend to be more problematic in fall crops. Good to know. These nefarious boogers were regularly sprayed with heavy doses of a Dr. Bronner’s soapy water solution  but to no avail. Deck decimation.

(SIDE RANT: So, not only did this organic “magic all-one” soap fail to kill off the aphids, but the funky-smelling unscented variety stings toddler eyes, and when the screaming toddler flails the offending suds into a nearby adult’s eyes, it stings theirs, too. Like a lot. And it leave a nasty residue on one’s skin and a milky scum on brand-new jet black vehicles. Both the human and vehicular test subjects required two non-Bronner’s scrubbings to remove all traces of ickiness. Which clearly, POD has time for.)

Defeat admitted.

September Progress

September rebootThe Little Hurricane has recently been redubbed Typhoid C.  You see, yesterday marked the one-month anniversary of our shared illnesses. That’s 30-odd days of hacking coughs, multi-colored mucus, razor-studded throats, viscous vomit, and booger crusts. Not to mention shared a  fever of 103. Yeah, yeah: hot-blooded. Got it. Still no fun.

What does a toddler’s discharge have to do with the health and well-being of the little blue deck? Everything, it seems. It’s like the deck doesn’t exist, let alone the computer upon which the deck is rendered public. All that matters is saline solution, honey, vomit dodging, and sleeping. This morning, though, despite a shocking lack of sleep and an abundance of the aforementioned symptoms, the deck’s disarray was too much for this sniffling gardener to handle. So while little Ms. Typhoid and her similarly afflicted father departed for the store and the playground, the deck got some half-assed love.

The final tomatoes were plucked and sad, tired plants were bagged. A smattering of cucumber beetles got smushed, just for the heck of it, and the C. Borealis (AKA french orange hybrid melon) upon which they were feasting gave up its last fruit.

September rebootWhat containers remain have been haphazardly scatter-seeded with lettuce, winter cress (AKA creasy creens courtesy of Bartram’s Garden), radishes, kale, and kohlrabi (courtesy of Startin Yer Garten).

Chips of Deliciousness

smitten kitchen kale chipsWho knew kale could be so tasty? The next time you find yourself craving the super green, give this a whirl (Thanks, Smitten Kitchen!):

Take a bunch of well-washed kale, about 10 oz (after you’ve dried the leaves, removed the thick stems, and ripped them into large pieces) and toss the leaves with about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil. Squeeze a scant half a lemon over the concoction, toss on some salt and cayenne (if you’re feeling in the mood for a kick), spread on a cookie sheet or two, and bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until crisp.

Mighty Kale

Winterbor KaleThe winterbor kale overwintered marvelously and will continue enjoying POD real estate until it’s time to tuck tomatoes into its home.

Although the last harvest was in November, kale’s a gratifying addition to a tiny gardening space. Because it can survive temperatures well below freezing and becomes even more flavorful after a frost, it works perfectly as a late fall/early spring crop. (This batch was planted as a set in early October 2009.) It’s just so satisfying to put home-grown greens on the table in dreary November and again in optimistic April — it’s even more delightful when you know the pots would have otherwise been left vacant.

Not only that, but kale’s one of those superfoods: you know, a heroic food that simultaneously fights cancer, strengthens bones, bests cataracts, and it may even ward off dementia. (We’ll see about that.)

Worms!

Okay, so, POD was recently inspired by a Graceful Gardens-designed kitchen garden. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s already October; but this fledgling garden was stuffed with beautiful herbs and greens — making me realize that those empty five-gallon buckets, sitting all forlorn-looking at the corner of the deck, were really such a waste.

So, off to the South Philly Lowes POD goes. I know, shame on me.

Two kale sets have now joined the thriving chard, parsnips, lettuce and the trooper poblano.

Of course, six, count ’em six, little squishy worms had to be picked off the undersides of the holey, half-devoured leaves before they could be popped into the waiting buckets.

Serves me right. Be forewarned.