Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
The subject line of an e-mail from my niece was "Help!" It contained no message, just the picture of the mound of kohlrabi on her counter, at right. I asked if that was self-inflicted or perpetrated by a CSA. She assured me it was one of the perils of CSA membership, and that the mound had been much bigger when it first arrived but she was getting tired of making salads with it. I sent along some additional suggestions (cut into cubes tossed with a vinaigrette and grilled in foil packets, for instance) and was glad I'd opted to let the farmers market folks raise the kohlrabi this year.
But it's not just CSAs that sometimes deliver too much of a good thing. CSAs are just macrocosms of our own smaller gardens, where everything turns ripe at once and demands attention right now to be at peak flavor and texture, so it's no wonder the bounty sometimes ends up a little lopsided to a particular veggie.
After wondering when my purple pole beans were going to produce, suddenly there they were, hiding at eye level where only a person intent on the weeds around them wouldn't notice them. And then there were lots of them, handfuls every day, leading to green bean and tomato salad (yum: www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Green-Bean-Yellow-Bean-and-Cherry-Tomato-Salad-103487), green beans Provencal style (to use more of the cute little yellow tomatoes weighing down the vines), and green beans with bacon and shallots. Because sometimes, as my niece said about the kohlrabi, making a healthy thing less healthy can yield very tasty results.
But of course, it's not just the beans to keep up with. There's the forest of kale, thicket of Swiss chard and, most demanding of all this year, the bumper crop of broccoli. Since it needs to be picked before it flowers, there's a narrow harvest window before it's too ripe, and this particular bunch has been rebudding prodigiously. So far this week the broccoli has shown up in pasta, risotto, as a side, and before the week is out, the rest of it is going to be made into a soup and frozen to eat later, when I'm slightly less tired of eating broccoli every day. And unlike tomatoes or zucchini, which you can put out at work and people will eventually wander off with them, I'm somehow thinking that might be less likely to happen with broccoli.....unless maybe I cut it up into florets and put out dip next to it....Hmmm.
Eventually, when the cucumbers threaten to overwhelm the counter, I'll break out the canner and make pickles. And remind myself to plant fewer next year. And to plant no more than two broccoli plants out of the four-pack and trade the rest at the plant swap.
But if you're really feeling overwhelmed with vegetable bounty this year, there's no need to let any of it go to compost. Any amount of fresh produce is a welcome sight at food shelves. Check out the Hunger-Free Minnesota site for links on where you can donate food at a site near you: www.hungerfreemn.org/seeking-good-gardeners
What's your strategy for managing peak produce season? And what would you do if faced with that mound of kohlrabi?
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