I like to haul up a chair and sit for long periods of time, gazing lovingly at my plants, just watching them grow. There’s a glimpse into my exciting life.
I’ve got heirloom carrots, strawberries, zucchini, jewel-toned beets, kale, tomatoes, green peas, four kinds of lettuce, a blackcurrant bush, tri-coloured and watermelon radishes, and my herbs – rosemary, thyme, dill, tarragon, chives, parsley and cilantro. All in planters on the terrace of our condo.
Urban gardening, people, get into it! There’s so much you can grow in containers.
The only problem is, I really don’t love bugs. In fact, my relationship with anything that has antennae, an exoskeleton, or heaven forbid a mandible involves me flinging my body dramatically in the opposite direction while I emit embarrassing sounds that are completely out of my control. It usually starts with a guttural croaking sound, transitions through a piercing screech, and ends in a pathetic whimper.
You can perhaps imagine my dismay when I woke up one morning to find my zucchini seedlings half devoured by horrible creatures that squirm around the dirt on their horrible bellies with the appearance of tiny blood sucking armoured leaches.
Yes, I do realize the irrationality of thinking something that gently munches my zucchini leaves would also want to suck my blood. Whatever.
In a rather screechy, high anxiety state, I raced to the garden store to find something that would get rid of the distressing little beasts. I asked for information on an organic pest control product. The woman in charge, who I believe looked like this, gave me the worst suggestion in the world. She turned her nose up in the air, fluttered her eyes down at me and said snootily “well, dear, I couldn’t tell you. I certainly don’t use any products in my garden. I simply pick the bugs off and toss them in the compost bin”.
“But… but… but…”, I sputtered, my head swimming in panic.
My friend Kristiana rolled her eyes almost audibly, removed the can of spray from my death-clutch, and tugged me away backwards by the elbow before I could burst into tears and continue to be judged by horrible garden lady.
The offending beasts turned out to be called “roly-polys”, not blood sucking armoured leaches. WHY someone would give something so horrid such an adorable name is beyond my comprehension. Not being able to suss out an innocuous chemical cure, I bought a pair of garden gloves and a pair of tweezers, and went home to become a man.
One by one I picked the horrid insects off of my zucchini plants and tossed them into a container of vinegar. Each one with a scream (from me, not the bug, thank the lord in the high heavens). Zucchini saved. They better taste exquisite, let me tell you.
Barely recovered from my roly-poly trauma, I woke up a few days later to find my blackcurrant bush had become an overnight salad bar for little worms, which the world wide web informs me are the larvae of wasps.
All you need to know is that I now have a dark side, accompanied by insect-free blackcurrant foliage, a very hoarse throat, and a large container of pickled larvae in my garden to send a mafia-style message to any other insects who might try to cross me.
In the traumatized state that ensued, I was solemnly considering switching to a flower garden and buying my veggies at the farmers market. Leave the bug tweezing to the pros. When suddenly, I noticed a bulge at the bottom of my radish leaves. Could it be? A RADISH?! Indeed! I harvested my first radish, and ate it eagerly, leaves and all. Then I harvested some baby greens, tossed a salad, and everything was right in the world again. The bugs made me stronger, and I have a whole new respect for organic farmers.
My favourite way to enjoy garden-fresh veggies is in a hearty dinner salad topped with grilled fish.
With both lemon zest and juice, this bright, tangy lemon buttermilk dressing is a perfect accompaniment to a plate full of spring greens.
P.S. I’m sorry I linked to mandibles. Appropriate food blog boundaries will be reinstated next post.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- Whisk all ingredients together and serve. My be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a week.