Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Big Garden Stars

When I look at these gorgeous vegetables, I wonder why everyone wouldn't choose a plant-based diet. This year I didn't grow the purple onions or the garlic, but the chinese long beans and the tomatoes? Yes, I did! And in a very big way! Without question these two veggies have been my garden stars, producing so easily and prolifically. And here they are, only minutes from being pulled off the vine, still coursing with nutrients, topping a small mound of brown rice. This was so simple - I was only trying to find another way to use up the pretty veggies - but so brightly full of delicious flavor!

Actually, this "garden-handful-garnish" was the only new part of this delicious meal, made up otherwise of amazing leftovers. I already had the pot of brown rice and a big bowl of pasta salad that was inspired by Morgan's recipe (http://littlehouseofveggies.blogspot.com) but followed oh, so very loosely because of what I had in the crisper to use up (loved it though -- great dressing Morgan!). This is the way I eat most often,  grabbing delicious vegan food that needs to be eaten and jazzing it up sometimes with a little something extra. I love creating something original and more elaborate, but the luxury of time is not always available in this busy and dietetically diverse household.

Here are some of my stars! This photo showcases an interesting adaptation that the plants made which I like. Outside the garden fence, one of the chinese longbean tendrils stretched to escape the shady thicket of its brethren, who were so carefully contained in the garden enclosure. This rebel vine found freedom and abundant sunshine by making friends with this heirloom "black" tomato, grown in a pot on a pedestal outside the garden fence due to a lack of enough space for all the tomato cages inside. Winding around the tomato vines, if you look carefully you can see a couple of the lavender bean flowers and a few of the beans themselves in varying stages of maturity. They sprout from the blossoms horizontally and then continue to grow vertically toward the ground. You may recognize this black tomato plant from an earlier post, featuring Heimlich, the tomato worm. Obviously, this tomato plant prefers the invasion of chinese long beans to Heimlich's invasion! That little guy never showed up again, by the way.

The Beans growing on the tomato plant and along the fence are so much easier to keep track of. They grow so quickly and every day I leave the garden with large handfuls of them, but within the vine thicket, unless they are out in front, I can unfortunately miss some of them, finding them behind the leaves of the plant only after they have turned white from old age and are three feet long. I am learning much about gardening this year. I will not need as many tomato or longbean plants next year. The yellow crookneck squash took up a lot of room in the garden but only produced three squash before withering. I have had many blossoms on my zucchini, but nary a fruit. The cucumbers have grown well in pots, but again, I won't need so many plants. The swiss chard was disappointing, but I think it was the wrong season or latitude for it -- very bitter. I have enjoyed the japanese eggplant, but there were only two of them. I will get more of those next year. The learning curve in gardening is steep, but the rewards are indeed bountiful!

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