ANZ's Farms

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garden Bounty

"Too much to eat and not enough to sell" ... a description I read recently about one's garden harvest that distilled my feelings into exactly the expression that had eluded me. It is exciting to pluck ripened vegetables from the vine -- cantaloupes, tomatoes, squash, peppers, even corn from the 3 stalks the critters did not get -- and disheartening to toss rotting ones that languish on the kitchen counter uneaten. What to do?! I certainly didn't work hard to grow them only to feed the composter!

Several solutions have brought me great joy. The first, and best, solution is to give some away. I hesitated to do this initially as my vegetables were not perfect. The cucumbers were a little big (they delight in playing hiding and seek on the vine); the tomatoes had blemishes; what can one do with just one squash?! Rather than give vegetables that looked like left overs, I wanted to show off my gardening skills with beauties similar to those I select from the grocer's produce stand. But home grown heirloom veges don't look like their genetically-modified, pesticide-laden, greenhouse grown-counterparts. And they don't taste like them either, thankfully. So, I overcame the sins of pride and waste (there are people all over the world starving. How can I throw food away!). Guests to my home now leave with at least something from the garden, perfect or not.

A second solution is to invite friends to dinner. Fresh salsa and chips for appetizers ... the tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeños, banana and green peppers, and cilantro come from my garden. Sides of tomato pie (my favorite!) with fresh basil; boiled potatoes; squash & onions or squash casserole; lettuce with cucumbers, boiled eggs and homemade croutons. I'm glad the garden motivates me to reconnect with friends.

A third solution is to put up in small quantities. I am mastering the art of canning 3 pints of tomatoes at a time. Waiting until there is a big batch did not work for me. I cut up the ripest and ugliest tomatoes, puree them in the blender (skin and all), stew them down, then water process them for winter enjoyment.

A fourth, and final solution, is to share with the girls, aka chickens. Goats have a reputation for eating anything, but it's the chickens that devour the over-ripened food. A side benefit is that now whenever I approach the chicken run, the new girls sprint to greet me -- feet flying and wings flapping -- instead of cowering in a huddle in fear.

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