Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Weeds- its what's for dinner!

Actually, its way more than weeds, but I couldn't resist steeling this little phrase from the market beef industry. This is my homegrown quiche. Yes, I know, its only spring and the true test of a gardener is in the summer, but I'm very pleased with our production thus far. I'm down to grocery shopping every other week where I only buy cabbage, carrots, fruit and sometimes yogurt (store bought yogurt as a culture has a better tasting end product). So this is our dinner tonight:
10 freshly laid eggs
1 cup homemade ricotta cheese
2 small homegrown zucchini
1 bunch of homegrown Okinawa spinach
a few dried tomatoes from last fall's harvest
1 bunch homegrown green onions
1 small bowl of dollarweed (harvesting was WAY fun with the kids!)
several sprigs of homegrown thyme
store-bought salt
1 (this is CRIMINAL!) store-bought pie crust
I can't believe I confessed this... even more surprised that I did it. I normally make quiche in a cheesecake pan with no crust. I don't like that. It has no form. We eat it out of bowls. This time I was sorta planning on maybe making a crust from scratch as I would a Christmas pie... then I looked in the freezer which was recently stocked with a few luxuries from my dad's freezer... like a store bought pie crust. I caved in the name of cleaning out a freezer. I poured this homegrown wonderfulness into a store bought, bleached-enriched-white-death pie crust.
But... I know this will not be the last quiche so I'll have another shot.
Back on topic now, the homesteading hubby and I are really excited. At one time we felt that being food self-sufficient was a real stretch. Now it feels at our fingertips. I purchase very few veggies. We're still learning about fruits to grow but loquats and mulberries from other people's trees are satisfying us for now. (Except the boys... they get grumpy without their bananas). Its funny to hear first time gardeners talk. They're so optimistic. And I have to guard my tongue to not rain on their optimism. But they talk about the size. Their eyes light up with these mammoth dimensions or the HUGE number of plants. I read one blog where a Florida guy bought 3 packets of corn seed and a few other veggies. Why??? Do you really think you're going to grow that much corn??? In Florida??? His blog stopped there for obvious reasons. Your 50 tomato plants aren't any good if you can't get any fruit to set or get to eat it before the bugs. Well, God bless them. I've been there. I remember my crazy seed orders, trying everything under the sun. Its when I finally said that I want real production that I focused on getting these gardens to yield. I had to change my pallet from wanting broccoli to wanting okra every night for 10 days in a row. And we seem to now have certain veggies narrowed down. We don't have a terribly varied diet right now, but darn it, its homegrown. Yes, we're eating dollarweed, but hey, its growing well and always will and is most certainly edible and nutritious so why not?
So what are our present staples?
1) Lettuce- some is still coming in good (most has bolted). I planted some on the east side of the house hoping the afternoon shade will prolong it some into summer.
2) Collard Greens- learn to love them if you're a FL gardener.
3) Zucchini- don't know how long I'll have it, but its great right now
4) Yellow Squash- same as zucchini
5) Sweet Potatoes- still eating the ones we harvested in December.
For herbs, the thyme and chives are thriving. My basil is still very small. Parsley has gone to seed. Rosemary and sage holding their own. Will take off I'm sure when I overhaul the beds which I won't do until the basil is ready for transplant. Green onions are the regrowth from the bulbs of store bought ones I bought over a year ago. I thought I killed the Okinawa spinach by not covering it this winter, but its come back strong. Will take cuttings and get a good stand of it going this summer.
What's planted for summer eating? Okra, beans and collards are the staples. Giving eggplant and amaranth another shot this year. Got some peppers in but I think they do better in the fall. Lima beans are a first for us. Lots of cowpeas coming up as weeds and more will be planted when the squash and melons come out. Sweet potatoes will get planted sometime soon but not harvested until winter... still working on some slips. My last 2 attempts at slips have molded instead. I think it was too cold where I was keeping them.
I also have lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin and butternut squash in and growing well. Hoping for good returns but won't scrap my collards expecting a pantry full of pickles. Oh... and swiss chard. We LOVE swiss chard. Tried planting it this winter and it just didn't grow until the sun started shining good. Its growing now... so I planted a bunch more. May not do anything before the heat is too much for it but as long as I've got my collards and okra to fall back on, I'm fine using space in experimentation. Also experimenting with kale.
The next thought is how to become more independent of the feed store. Yes, we're raising (or trading for) all the meat and dairy we consume, but those chickens and goats can chow down the hay and grain. Challenges for another day.

1 comment:

  1. I can say I had some of my frozen blueberries in the pancakes I made. We put a few items in the garden this past Saturday, then it got cooler, have had some rain, but to be like July weather this weekend. So hopefully the snap peas and corn will sprout along with spinach and lettace. I am getting hungry for the "real" things again.