veggie washes

One difference between CSA produce and grocery produce is that you can tell it came out of the ground. This is by no means a bad thing. In fact, I would rather see dirt on my produce and be reminded to wash it well, than to have creepy hidden bugs in my grocery broccoli that I can't see until I've cooked it (true story, totally traumatizing). Especially with lettuce, I have been pretty careful to wash it thoroughly (and judging by the amount of lettuce I've eaten in the past two weeks, I need a salad spinner like nobody's business).

But the question is: do I need to do more than just rinse? I have seen vegetable washes and sprays on the market, at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. I imagine they are pretty safe, or at least they are marketed to combat the unsafe ills of non-organic produce. My CSA is organic, so I shouldn't have to worry too much about the nastier chemicals, but what things other than soil should I look out for? And are the spray washes the answer?


more lettucing than a girl can handle

School's out, I survived, I have settled into summer, and I am loving it. Not only have I had more time to spend in the garden, I've had more time to be a foodie, as well. So, today's blog is going to be about food for a change.

First off, my CSA started last week. I forgot to take a photo of everything that came last Thursday, but it was a monster half-share. An entire grocery shopping bag full of leaf lettuce, as well as a head of romaine, a bunch of green onions, watercress, mushrooms, and probably some other stuff I am forgetting. This week's haul was equally impressive: lots of green onions, some sort of cress, turnips, kale, a head of red lettuce, and my purple broccoli! Oh, and a loaf of bread from Metropolitan, who so graciously serve as the CSA pick-up point.

My container of lettuce alone is making more than I normally eat in salads, so needless to say, I have an overabundance of lettuce in my life right now. I've been trying to make more frequent, bigger salads. It's kind of exhausting, but delicious nevertheless. When the new CSA delivery came today, the worms got a feast of last week's leftovers.

In any event, I am excited to see some new items this week. I have never really cooked with turnips, so that should be an adventure. The purple broccolis look adorable and delicious, too. I don't know that I've ever knowingly eaten cress, and it is a delightful flavor addition to salads. I can't quite pinpoint the taste. Peppery, maybe a little lemony? Whatever. I figure, the less dressing I have to put on a salad, the better, and cress certainly spices things up.

In other news, I think I maybe don't like chard.

I know, I know. It's been so exciting to grow in the garden, but I am struggling with what to do with it in the kitchen. Hank hasn't eaten any since the first time I made him try it (steamed, a little lemon), and I keep wanting to like it, but I don't. The best attempt was to steam it with a load of butter and salt (what isn't improved by that method?), but that was passing at best. Any advice out there? It's so pretty that I don't mind having it as a decorative plant in the garden, but it sure would be nice to avoid letting those pretty colors and vitamins go to waste...


a lesson learned and herbiporn

Could it be? Two posts in two days? Incredible!

Today's post is short on words and long on photoz. I finished my second final paper this afternoon and rewarded myself with some gardening.

As you know, I'm running this garden on the cheap. As such, I cut corners wherever I can. So today, when I went to the local hardware store, I chose the cheap potting soil (we will call it Brand X) instead of Miracle Grow, which I usually get. I hauled 3 bags (60 lbs.0 of it home in my folding shopping cart and brought the bags, one by one, upstairs. Long story short, don't skimp on the potting soil.

Brand X (left) and Miracle Grow (right), after thorough waterings

Brand X essentially turned to sandy mud that wouldn't drain even when saturated. The deck is a muddy mess and I have resorted to leaving the soaked pot in the sun so it will (hopefully) dry out. Seriously, fork over the extra bucks for the good stuff. Because now I have 60 lbs. (400 when wet) of the bad stuff...

But! On to happier, more photogenic topics than mud:

By popular demand, may I introduce my trash pot:
This is where I throw organic matter trash while I'm on the deck (and sometimes I store my trowel in it). You know, old potting soil, thinned seedlings, husks from grilled corn on the cob, etc. A while back, one of my discarded lettuce thinnings took root. I didn't yank it because I figured if it was hearty enough to survive thinning and live in a trash pot, more power to it. It's thriving, there on the left.

In other news, my savage lettuce/chard container is about to explode

The flat lettuce planter has also been doing well since Sprocket has stopped trying to eat the baby lettuces

And now, my pride and joy, the zucchinis!
The shot on the left was taken at 11:38AM today, the shot on the right at 5:19PM. You may have to look at the larger versions (iPhone shots, apologies), but holy cow! All that in 5.5 hours?

It's gonna be a gooooood summer, y'all.


sum sum summertime

It would appear as though summer has arrived in Philadelphia. Without a lot of warning if you ask me...

On the personal front, the last few weeks have been kind of insane. Besides being neck-deep in finals at the moment, I dislocate my left index finger in a bike crash a few weeks ago. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but it has delayed some of my gardening projects because I'm currently not able to lug a flat of potting soil up to the deck. In any event, I am healing and the papers are (gimp-ily) getting written, so I thought I would take a break from my magnificent tome about 1950s religion to bring you up to date in el jardín.

The second round of eggplant and tomato seedlings are doing much better in their temporary pots. You may recall some poor judgment on my part last month when I tried to plant round one too early. The temporary pots go outside for (usually) the afternoon and come in at night. However, I imagine that the 80-degree weather we have been having will start to keep the nights warm enough for me to plant them soon.

A few days ago, I planted zucchini seeds. I am expecting great things from these little dudes, considering my abundant success with cucumbers last summer (cucumbers, zucchini, same thing. Psh). Hank and I eat a ton of zucchini, so I cannot wait to cook up some of my own pride and joy!

One issue I am beginning to realize may be a problem this summer: wind. Although the deck is protected on two sides by 10' walls, it nevertheless gets very windy. I want to look into making a trellis wind-screen with some sort of aggressive vine. Any recommendations? Flowering is nice, but not necessary, and it has to be container-friendly. Had I realized this earlier, I would have purchased pole beans, which would have fit the bill perfectly, but alas, I bought bush beans or their smaller stature. Anyway, this project is in its infancy, so any suggestions would be muchly appreciated!

That's all on the garden front. I'll be mostly done with school next week, and hopefully by then I will have more exciting things happening on the deck.

Until then, join me in my excitement over the return of good produce to my grocery store! And my CSA starts next week!
Om. Om nom nom.

Update: Upon inspection a few minutes ago, the zucchini have started to sprout! That was superfast. I guess they like torrential rain and hot weather...