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Posts Tagged ‘edible gardening’

My chard (also known as swiss chard and silverbeet) is growing great right now. I planted it last fall, and it did ok throughout the winter months, but it seems to really have taken off in the past months. I have known that I need some shade for my garden in the spring and summer months. That South Texas sun is just too darn hot for most things all day long. While I have a nice line of juniper trees on the east side of the garden I have nothing shading things from the West side and as the hours go by the plants really take a beating. I have tried to come up with some ideas (in my head!) to help shade things, but my limitations over the past few years I haven’t been able to physically get things done like that. This year I had some ideas that I thought would work and I have more stamina to get them done.

Chard stalks

Chard stalks

I’m getting off track here. This post started out about chard and the stems and I have gotten sidetracked with my new shade system….. so I will break this up into two posts and post about the shade that I created in my next post here.

I think my chard is really benefiting from the shade and when I arrived back home after being gone for 3 weeks I was amazed at how tall and full the chard plants where. It is really almost impossible to grow most greens here in the spring and summer months. For two years I did keep a few chard plants going. It wasn’t pretty throughout the summer months, nor were they huge producers, but it was interesting to see them stay alive and keep growing.  I am excited at the prospect of these fall planted chard plants along with the new shade to see what happens throughout the rest of the summer. We are already hot, and it will just get more hot and I hope the plants will do better.

chopping chard stalks

chopping chard stalks

So, I am happily picking chard and adding into most of our meals in one way or another. Last night as I was chopping the chard and I wondered if others out there also ate the stalks/stems.

Adding chopped chard stalks to pasta water

Adding chopped chard stalks to pasta water

I grew up eating the stalks. Mom or Gram would chop them separately and get them sauteing or steaming for a few minutes. The stalks can be a bit bitter and that bitterness will disappear if you give them extra time to cook. they also need additional cooking time because they are a lot thicker and firmer than the leaf and need that extra time to soften up more.

When I am going to add the chard to pasta, I just throw the chopped stalks in along with the pasta for the last 3 minutes of its cooking time. Once the pasta is drained I add the chopped leaves and let the heat of the pasta soften and cook the delicate chard leaves (the smaller you chop them up, the easier it is to incorporate them into the hot pasta.)

Do you eat the chard stalks? How do you incorporate them into your meals?

Sincerely, Emily

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Lammas, or August 1, is the first of the harvest festivals. You’re probably picking more than you can eat all at once starting now.

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For me (Alexandra), Lammas marks the moment when the gardener is forcibly reminded that she is not actually in control. Plants go wild, as if they know (and I suppose they do), that summer is coming to an end, and they better get all their growing done!

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When ever I (Sincerely, Emily) visit my parents up in Minnesota this time of year, I am always amazed at the lush, full, green garden. In our area we are starting to plan our fall planting. I cut back my tomato plants a few weeks ago and they are growing, but I don’t seem to be harvesting much or anything. The Armenian cucumbers are still growing well and the okra is starting to produce. Just patiently waiting for some cooler temps so the pepper plants will start flowering again.

Star of David okra

Star of David okra

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What are you harvesting?

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I grew up with parents that grew a lot of the food we ate because that’s the only way they could afford healthy food.  When they could afford to buy food they staring purchasing more at the grocery store and the size of their garden shrank. While growing your own is kind of posh in urban area, this hipness has yet to trickle down into some rural areas, especially among the younger generations. People in our area still have the view that if they can afford to buy it they will, growing your own is for people who can’t afford to buy food at the grocery store and the few random hippies that talk about something called “organic”. In some areas all across the country it’s even outlawed by home owners associations to grow edible food in your yard (we’re not allowed to have chickens).

It’s kind of funny because when we started to add edible plants to our gardens here at Chiot’s Run my neighbor came over to see what I was doing. When she saw all the red ripe juicy strawberries she asked where I got the plants. The next year they cut down a bunch of trees and put in a strawberry bed and a small garden. When I started growing tomatoes, cabbages and onions in my yard, they doubled the size of their garden and added corn, cucumbers and beans. When I added another garden on one of side of my driveway, they increased the size of their garden once again and added a small orchard as well. I also noticed that their friends down the street added some tomatoes and broccoli to their front flowerbed. I notice that every year a few more people in the homes around me are putting in small edible gardens in their front yard. I’m happy knowing that I helped break the ice or pave the way to make them feel comfortable doing so. I guess all they needed was someone go ahead of them, perhaps help to break the stigma that surrounds the growing of food in your yard. It’s nice to see my neighbors getting into edible gardening and being excited about it. My neighbor across the street was even telling me she started canning for the first time last summer and she’s retired.

Growing your own can open doors with your neighbors, especially if you take them homegrown tomatoes and veggies or eggs from your chickens. Growing some of your food out in the open can also encourage others to do the same. Perhaps your neighbors have always wanted to, but feared what people would say if they saw a few tomatoes growing on the front porch. In some areas growing your own will make you the talk of the beauty parlor (yep I’ve been told I’m frequently the topic of conversation there) and in other places it’s what everyone is doing. If you live in an area where it’s not common and people look down on it – grow out in the open, put your garden in your front yard and talk liberally about the joy of growing your own. And don’t be afraid to talk about how much money you save either! Be the one everyone is talking about so others can start to feel comfortable doing it as well. Sometimes all it takes is one person to hold up the torch so everyone can see!

What’s the Grow Your Own climate like in your area? Is it looked down upon or is it the thing to do?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.

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