Not only can I get in trouble at grocery stores, I can also get in trouble at garden centres.
It makes sense, because it is like a grocery store with such promise for the future.
Originally, we had planned to keep things relatively simple. We tried out a few plants last year, and knew that our best results were with our herbs in planters. We were also able to harvest beans (snow peas, snap peas and flat beans), lettuce, Swiss chard and kale, although at much lower yields. Carrots – nada! Kohlrabi – nope. Beets- only the chioggia beets grew and they were way too small.. Zucchini- to be fair, we grew it in a very shady part of the garden and it died. Our rhubarb died a horrible death, too.
Our new home has a much smaller garden, but receives a lot more light. I am hopeful we will be able to grow some tasty delights this year. To keep things simple, the herbs would be a definite go, especially since I overwintered them in my kitchen and only had a few casualties (basil, thyme and even the Vietnamese coriander, boo, the last two both perennials). I was going to try my hand at kale again, both with the transplanted kale and with seedlings. After Rob’s mom’s success with dinosaur kale (lacinato kale) from a seedling (and plenty of sun), I was adamant I wanted to try kale from seedlings. I know kale grows easily from seeds, but I figured this could help get the plant bigger and me eating it sooner!
Locating kale seedlings is easier said than done. Not only did I not want the standard kale, I wanted heirloom kale. Home Depot? No. Canadian Tire? No. A local independent grocer had the normal curly kale, though. I decided to check in with the closest garden centre: Caledonia Garden Centre. Turns out they had just picked up some kale to sell. Lacinato kale and the normal curly kale. Perfect!
With my best intentions, I swear, I headed off to buy some lacinato kale. I perused their collection… next to the lacinato kale, they had redbor kale. I picked up both. They also had a curly kale and bought it just for fun. Then I spotted the collard section. The regular collards were only a $1; in it went… and then I perused the section a bit more…. they had heirloom collards! Vates collards, which are a bit more compact with an earlier maturation date. And Portuguese collards (couve). Never even heard of it but they looked a bit more frilly and white in their mugshot on the label. I was excited just to find lacinato kale but now I was ecstatic!! New veggies to explore! I resisted the Swiss chard since I had seeds at home to plant. Then I moseyed through the rest of the veggies…. and while I had no plans to buy squash, when I saw they had KABOCHA (!) squash seedlings, I impulsively threw them in my now overflowing tray of seedlings. At only $1.25 for 4 plants, it was an experiment I was willing to try. ;)
When I got home, I had to investigate how to grow collards and kabocha squash! Where would they fit in my garden?
Thankfully squash can be grown in containers, so that’s where I put my squash. I am not sure where the 20 foot vines will go but if they make it that far, I will deal with it then!
The collards and kale have all been interspersed in the front garden, amongst the perennial flowers. I am hoping they become balmy ornamental greens throughout the summer. Hopefully the sun cooperates and we can feed them properly. Cross your fingers for a summer of green overload!
Looking for a way to use some greens? This is a bulgur pilaf salad with some Swiss chard sneaked in.. while it may call for a bunch of Swiss chard, it wilts down and makes you wonder why you didn’t add more. ;)
Courtesy of Melissa Clark, I tweaked her Bulgur Pilaf with Dried Apricots from Cook This Now. Like my Middle Eastern-Inspired Olive Oil Granola, this bulgur salad is flavoured with cinnamon, dried apricots and pistachios. With a nod to my favourite bulgur salad, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and pomegranate arils make this salad more interesting with their tangy crunch. This is actually a template for a great salad: mix and match with what you have in store. Don’t have apricots and pistachios? Use dried cranberries and almonds instead… or try raisins and walnuts.. Salads need not be stressful! :)
Bulgur Pilaf Salad with Pomegranate, Dried Apricots, Pistachios and Swiss Chard
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now
1 cup bulgur (I prefer coarse bulgur)
2 cups water or stock (if using coarse bulgur, finer bulgur may require less liquid)
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, shelled, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped (or more!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I think I used less)
1 tsp pomegranate molasses, plus additional for drizzling
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 small pomegranate)
1. In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water/stock to a boil. Add bulgur and cinnamon stick, cover and reduce to a simmer. After 10 minutes, add the dried apricots. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes in total until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off heat, remove the cinnamon stick, plump with a fork, cover and allow to steam.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Once hot, add the garlic and shallot. Saute until the garlic is fragrant, around 3 minutes. Add cumin, and stir for 30-60 seconds until slightly toasted. Add the chopped chard and sprinkle with salt and season with pepper. Saute until the chard is wilted, around 3 minutes. Stir in the cooked bulgur and cook until heated through.Stir in pomegranate molasses.
3. Remove from heat, toss in pomegranate arils and drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Prior to serving, top with chopped pistachios.