On grazing

Monarch caterpillar munching on an asclepiasMonarch tasting the zinniasI have come to the realization – as I think I do every year – that there is nothing better in this world than feasting on the garden’s harvest. But I think the critters have it right – there are some things that taste infinitely better in the garden than out of it. I don’t love cherry tomatoes nearly as much if I take them home first and put them in a salad. Call me a wingnut but the closest I can get to enjoying them to the same degree as I do in the garden is if I eat them standing up at the kitchen counter. The same goes for the ground cherries (a sweet relative of the tomatillo) which I prefer to pick just as they’re about to drop to the ground and I have been known to take serious grazing breaks at our clump. Bring them inside for a sit-down break though and I tend to lose interest.

Ground cherries are ripe when they fall to the ground - or just before.Peeled ground cherry ready for the eating.

Maybe it’s like picking flowers to bring inside – some people love to do that while others really only enjoy their flowers in the garden. Granted, with veggies there are some things that are much better brought home – I might not be inclined to graze the beets, for instance, since I really prefer them roasted, chilled and slathered in homemade blue cheese dressing. And isn’t basil best drizzled in olive oil and draped over a slice of heirloom tomato?'Nosegay' hot pepper - tempting but I don't think I'll graze on this...

It seems like it’s been a funny year for the vegetable garden – slow to start for us with all of that rain in June and July and it seems like everyone’s tomatoes took a bit of a blighted beating. We are enjoying a good onion and leek crop though; the lettuce went on for ages and the artichokes were awfully good (dipped in melted butter, of course). Plus we’ve had more than our share of thievery in the gardens this year. The deer dined on the pole beans, somebody is chewing on the sweet potato foliage and whoever wiped us out of nearly ripe and still green tomatoes this weekend, shame on you. (I think Gail and I had the right idea planting the agave with the cherry tomatoes – though even those people with permission to pick have scars now from grazing…)

The agave tomato guard

Praying mantis waiting for dinner in the Blue Spice basil (and talinum)Gail and Cathy and I have been wondering about all of the people who were inspired this year to start a vegetable garden – are they feeling discouraged? We all already know that every year brings some kind of strange extreme and because of that I think we veteran gardeners have a duty to try to pass along our garden-variety optimism to any newbies we meet so they’ll keep on keeping on too.

How is your harvest so far this year? Do prefer to eat it standing up in the garden too?

3 thoughts on “On grazing

  1. I do like to graze in the garden on cherry tomatoes, green beans, and in season, peas. I hope those who started veggie gardens this year are not discouraged, that something produced for them. We need to remind them that some years are better than others!

    Carol, It seems like every year it’s a mixed bag of better and bests and no good at alls… But it does take perseverance to work that out and enjoy the challenges! -kris

  2. I think it’s the warmth… if you bring a blackberry instead, it somehow looses that warm-from-the-sun quality that helps the flavor to burst in your mouth. :)

    I’m a definite grazer in the garden. It’s just so convenient–like a buffet, where you can wrap different types of basil leaves around your cherry tomatoes to see which combinations you like!

    Kim, You’re absolutely right – the grazing these early chilly mornings isn’t nearly so gratifying as it is after it’s gotten warm. And you’ve got the right idea mixing flavors right in the garden – I’m too impatient! But maybe if I carried a hip flask of olive oil and a pocketful of mozzarella… -kris

  3. Yep, maybe 4 of our 16 Sungolds have made it inside. The rest get eaten. Even Bud agrees that snap peas and green beans fresh off the vine are best. I think it’s the privilege of all the work that went into it, to be able to stand in your garden and eat whatever you want. And yes! Pass that love and also the condolences and cheering-up to the newbies. I gave extra tomato starts and some seeds to a co-worker who made her first garden this summer. Hearing about her war with the slugs was so hilarious, but there was a lot of commiserating about the blight, no doubt. Enjoy the grazing while it lasts!

    mmmm – Sungolds! My favorite! It’s funny that Buddy grazes with you – Nino is only interested in my Hakonechloa. And Julie used to have a dog that always got to the broccoli before anyone else had a chance. I hope your co-worker friend will try again next year – sometimes the best harvest at all is a good laugh. -kris
    p.s. Dick and Cathy pulled all of the tomatoes yesterday because of the blight. boo.

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