Garden to Table

This is on the hood of Stew's car. Truth.

Perhaps you’ve heard (here, here and here) that I’m a little excited about this little garden we planted. Unfortunately I neglected it a bit lot during finals and had to swing by over the weekend to salvage the remains of our nearly-ruined broccoli harvest. The horror.

Some of the broccoli had already (or at least almost) flowered but I managed to wrangle up a big sackful for dinner. I was also thrilled to death to find that our potatoes were producing at an impressive rate…

TATERS

The onions were also on their last leg so I nabbed the last of them and now have more onions than any one person should ever possess. Ever.

I’m new to this whole community garden thing and I’m pretty sure I got the go ahead to help myself to plots that have been more or less abandoned for the summer… but is it wrong to take vegetables from another plot if you’re pretty positive they were left there to perish? Because that’s how I got these turnips.

I'm not ashamed.

Mario approves.

Hell, I wish someone had picked our broccoli before it flowered. And that’s why I’m gonna eat those turnips and never look back.

I took our harvest and made a beautiful dinner of roasted broccoli and charred green onions, skillet potatoes with garlic, onion and manchego cheese and baked tofu. We topped it off with mmm sauce which Stew had prepared in quadruple amounts on “accident” purpose. So perfect.

PS – I really did take that first picture on the hood of Stew’s car. Who needs a lightbox when your boyfriend drives a white car?

Green Garden Soup

Light summer soup with veggies from the garden

After my triple dessert binge at yesterday’s CLT Food Blogger potluck, I was in serious need of some green. I made a run to the Rock Hill Community Educational Garden and nabbed some goods from our plot:

Onions

Spinach

Broccoli

BROCCOLI!

I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a broth-y Asian-inspired soup with rice noodles, tofu, baby carrots and water chestnuts. Done and done. In hindsight, soup would have been a wiser choice if we used air conditioning but even drenched in sweat, I don’t regret it.

Green Garden Soup

3 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
approx 1-2 c broccoli florets
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 carton vegetable stock
1 big handful of spinach, chiffonaded
pinch of chili flakes
black pepper to taste
1 block of tofu, cubed
rice noodles
limes

Saute the onion and garlic in the sesame oil on medium heat. Add your broccoli and continue heating about 4-5 minutes. Pour in the stock and then add spinach, tofu, chili flakes and black pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer. In another pot prepare rice noodles according to package (usually add to boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes). Once noodles are ready, add them to the soup pot. Serve with lime wedges and liquid aminos (or soy sauce).

Hey baby

I’m still so floored by the garden. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world that we dug a hole, put seeds in it and they grew into food. I realize I know this is how all of my food begins, but there is something very different about doing it yourself. Aside from childhood, this is my first hands-on experience with a garden. I think it’s the coolest.

My mom sent me these pictures of my brother, sister and I in her garden when we were kids.

It says: "Proof that Tater has always liked vegetables..."

"... and that Ben once touched a green bean."

See, they really do call me Tater.

Our Garden Grows!

Onions!

This is a big damn deal, y’all.

I held a seed. I put it in the ground. It made food.

Victory!

I realize my only role in this little endeavor was to show up on planting day, put in four hours of hard labor, disappear for a month and a half and come back to find a bountiful harvest. But please do keep in mind that the last time I tried to plant something, this happened. It’s a wonder these little vegetables even saw the light of day after they came into contact with me.

Monster spinach

The little carrots that could

Broccoli, y'all.

I am so very excited about this little project. I even invited Stew and Waldo to come check it out since I got out of class early last night…

And then he ate an onion.

He did.

Our group is planning to donate our harvest to a local shelter (as of yet unidentified) but since the onions and spinach needed some thinning… I confiscated a handful to add to last night’s dinner.

Somebody had to taste test! And not just Waldo...

Local spinach, homemade bean burger with local onions and cheese, steamed asparagus with lemon and pepper and steamed baby carrots. Yes, please.

We Planted a Garden

Student Dietetic Association's garden plot

Today was a gloriously active day for me. I find sitting at a desk all day to be a truly miserable existence, but that happens to be my existence right now so a day like today is a welcome retreat from the ordinary.

I started with a butt-whoopin’ at Tanner’s superflow class, arguably the most challenging yoga class in Charlotte. I love it. After a quick shower and a snack, I was off to plant a community garden with the Student Dietetic Association. We predicted it might take the 12 of us about 30 minutes to sow the seeds. Four hours later, we were exhausted but accomplished. Consider it our first-time gardener hazing.

Rock Hill Educational Community Garden

The community garden is in its pilot phase, and we were lucky enough to land one of the very first plots. Rolf, the master gardener overseeing the plot, grew up in Germany where he and his family survived after WWII living off of a tiny garden plot on 1/8 of an acre. He knows everything there is to know about making plants make food, and we’re lucky to be working with him.

Rolf schooling us on vegetables

In addition to Rolf and his expertise, a master gardener is assigned as a mentor for each group plot.

The plots

You may think the plots above look good to go, right? So did we when we arrived. But we were promptly informed that if we want to do this garden and do it right, we’d have to pull out all of the cinder blocks, dig a deeper well for them, remove all the dirt, sift it and discard of the weeds/roots/rocks. It took a team of 12 four hours to make it happen.

Dirt!

I have a newfound appreciation for produce.

Going into this, I really knew nothing about gardening. My mom always had a garden when we were kids, but the extent of my involvement was picking strawberries or beans or lettuce and devouring it soon thereafter. Her parents are horticulture extraordinaires, and their yard is like a palace garden. My paternal grandparents also maintain a gorgeous and bountiful garden each year. I did not inherit any of these gardening genes.

But I’m eager to learn and anxious to see what our 20′x3.5′ plot produces. We planted:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Spinach

We’re allowed to keep our harvest or donate it to a local shelter. We’ve opted to donate but haven’t identified a charity just yet. We’ll have to wait and see how the garden grows before we try pushing our goods off on other people.

Winthrop University SDA

I was really proud of our effort today (and of our cute little plants).

Here's hoping they thrive

Monster Okra

Whaaaat?

I haven’t looked at my garden for a while. To be honest, I assumed nothing would really grow in it. Imagine my surprise then when I found THIS giant okra. Just one, yes. There are normal-sized ones on the way, but I’ll probably forget about those, too.

I grabbed the biggest of my store-bought okras for a comparison. I should win a prize for this.