The Joy of Gardening: Eating What You Grow

It’s a remarkable experience eating something you grow yourself. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

I grow vegetables on a small-scale, and suffer the same garden failures we all do: pests, frost, heatwaves, drought. It’s a wonder anything gets on the table.

It’s human nature to persevere, however, and when success follows…wow!

We ate fresh broccoli from the garden today. Six beautifully formed plants, six perfect heads of broccoli. Those remarkable greens moved from garden to kitchen to table in under an hour.  Broccoli never tasted so sweet.

Cream of the Broccoli Crop

Cream of the Broccoli Crop

Broccoli Fresh from the Plant

Broccoli Fresh from the Plant

Basket of Freshly Picked Broccoli

Basket of Freshly Picked Broccoli

Broccoli Sauteed in Garlic and Olive Oil

Broccoli sautéed in Garlic and Olive Oil

My Husband’s Recipe

  • Two heads of broccoli
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of lemon juice
  • handful of slivered almonds

Heat oil on medium.  Add garlic and broccoli; salt and pepper to taste

Cover for 2 to 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender

Add a dash of lemon juice and a handful of slivered almonds

Cover and cook for one more minute.

Serve immediately

A Broccoli We Will Grow

What do you think?  Catchy song title, eh?


Okay, I’ll stick to growing instead. I’m happy to report that the broccoli is doing well, growing and showing signs of decent production.  I snapped off one large leaf with a cluster of pests (yuck), but the plants look healthy. The leaves are a nice, dark green and small heads are forming on all six plants.

Broccoli Head

Broccoli Head

I grew broccoli last year, but it bolted early.  I managed just a few small heads. Since the cauliflower is looking worse by the day, I’ve set my sights on the great green veg.

I enjoy eating broccoli in a number of ways:

  • Steamed till tender but still crunchy,
  • sautéed with almonds (my husbands yummy recipe),
  • and blended in soup

It’s hard not to feel virtuous when munching on this cruciferous darling

Broccoli contains more vitamin C than oranges, ounce for ounce.  It has a much calcium as a glass of milk, and contains folate, important for the production and maintenance of new cells.  It’s an excellent source of iron as well as fiber.

Broccoli Plants

Broccoli Plants

It will be an excellent source of pride as well, if I can get past these next few weeks. Fingers crossed for cooperative weather, and a pest-free, bolt-free crop.

Broccoli Leaves

Broccoli Leaves

Further Reading:

A Broccoli We Will Grow

Birdhouse Gourd

Birdhouse Gourd

We enjoyed cauliflower and broccoli at the table tonight, though neither of them came from my garden. I hope that changes soon. All the plants are looking healthy and perky from the recent rain. Last week I saw a green worm and what looked like eggs, but apparently a bird came along and had them for lunch. There isn’t a single trace of whatever it was, though chewed leaves are in abundance.

After a life of eating mostly from the grocery store, I get pretty excited at the prospect of real vegetables growing out back. I wasn’t raised eating either of these vegetables, but have grown to love them both. I prefer my broccoli steamed or in soup and my cauliflower raw.

The pair of birdhouse gourds are still hanging on, but it won’t be long now. I’ve seen some amazing examples of painted gourds on the web. Time to start pinning ideas.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and Cauliflower, November 9th

Broccoli and cauliflower

Broccoli and cauliflower, December 17th (six weeks later)

It looks like at least one of the radishes survived the kitty onslaught, or it could be an herb that I don’t yet recognize.  I love the mystery of it all.  And yes, those are pumpkin plants in the lower box, a self-seeded crop growing away in mid-December.  Go figure?

Vegetable Box Quandry

My vegetable boxes resemble “before and after” pictures, but not on purpose.  Once the pumpkins were out, I cleaned the box to the right of the garden, and planted winter vegetables.  The box to the left, however, was chugging along with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a bird house gourd so I let it be.

Vegetable Box, Stage Right: Neat and tidy winter veg

Vegetable Box, Stage Left: chaotic jumble

The top-tier of the left box has eroded nearly a foot.  On the plus side, the erosion created a nice spot for one of the gourds to rest.  That said, I’m not sure how to save the existing plants while topping off the box with more soil.

Birdhouse Gourd

We live on a tiny lot, so sunny space is at a premium.  I try to maximize what I’ve got but was realizing today that I need to rethink the boxes.

This is year three for the “blueberries,” but they still aren’t producing.  The plant remains small, though healthy but at this rate I may as well call it a shrub.  We haven’t seen a single berry since we planted it.

Blueberry Shrub

Raspberry Vine

Raspberry Vine

The raspberries, on the other hand, took off this past summer and produced sweet and delicious berries for several weeks.  We enjoyed standing in the garden and eating them right off the vine. Is there anything sweeter than a sun-warmed berry?

I’ve considered transplanting the canes along the back fence, but I’m afraid I’ll set them back two years. It’s also a bit crowded there so they may not get adequate sun. I think the blueberry needs more room or more sun, maybe both.

My indecision (and the colder weather) leaves me in a quandary.  Should I leave well enough alone and wait till next spring to decide, or should I move the blueberry plant and raspberry canes now while they’re at rest?

Recommendations welcome.


The Caged Garden

It’s not pretty, but it’s working!

Introducing…my winter veggie boxes…now growing in a cage.

Garden Cage


After a discouraging start to my winter vegetable garden where nothing came up, I started over.  To make up for lost time, I bought cell packs instead of seeds. The upper planting box simply failed to thrive. The lower box proved irresistible to the cats:

 “Did you put all that nice soil there for me?

Why thanks.”

Where's the door?

Where’s the door?

I cobbled together bird netting, chicken-wire and steel mesh to create a complete enclosure.  Water and sun can get in, but my four-legged friends can’t. I waited a week before writing about it, but I’m happy to report that Fort Knox for vegetables is holding tight.  I’m not planning any recipes just yet, but I’m feeling a lot more optimistic. Stay tuned!

cat on the garden box

Psst. Follow me.


I failed to include a photo of the Hodgepodge yesterday. Here is the current crop. (Thanks Sharon).

Garden Hodge-Podge

Garden Hodgepodge