I’m a very novice gardener. I have killed every house plant I have ever owned. Despite this, three years ago I decided to try my hand at a vegetable garden – in the desert. The first year I harvested one bowl of baby romaine, about a dozen baby carrots, and even fewer cherry tomatoes (I planted beefsteaks). Last year I got two handfuls of wimpy yellow beans, four slightly-larger-than-cherries tomatoes, one bowl of baby spinach and two cucumbers.
I could blame the poor harvest on many things: the harsh climate, the fact that I can’t follow gardening advice because our growing season is all turned around here, the poor soil (it’s all sand!), my inexperience. But I think one major problem I hadn’t accounted for is a lack of pollinators. You see, it’s not that plants don’t grow in my backyard; it’s that they don’t bear fruit. My zucchini plants, for example, were huge but the flowers died before becoming zucchini. The cucumber plants got attacked by bugs before the fruit could grow. And my spinach flowered before the individual leaves got larger than a quarter.
The local farms grow beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, sweet peppers – so I know it can be done. I just haven’t been able to manage it yet. However, the one thing I did have success with last winter was beet greens. The beets remained tiny, but I was able to harvest the greens for a couple of months. This made my heart sing since finding beet greens in this country is almost as hard as finding kale.
I like to learn from my mistakes. This year I’m focusing on the greens.
Last Thursday evening Little Handsome and I grabbed some plastic cups, seeds and a bag of soil and started the planting. It’s still too hot to plant outside, but I thought we could try starting the seeds indoors. Little Handsome helped me put each seed in the soil, push it down, cover it up and spray it with water.
I have over a dozen different seeds just waiting to be planted. I was humming and hawing about which to plant first when I remembered: learn from your mistakes. Focus on the greens.
So we now have the beginnings of beets, rainbow chard and kale growing in our kitchen. I’ve already started dreaming about the things I’m going to make with these organic greens, cut right out of the garden. Here’s the first on my family’s list:
Blueberry Banana Kale Green Juice
1 cup frozen blueberries (fresh seem to have trouble blending)
2-3 large leaves of kale – assuming we can grow large leaves!
1 cup of water
Instructions: blend all ingredients in a blender, pour into cups, enjoy!