I’ve been pruning my basil plants. That means pinching off the little suckers (that’s actually the name of the new leaves that try to come along where big leaves are already trying to grow. You pinch them off to encourage large leaf growth) and the flowers (same justification). But the suckers are intensely flavourful and I’ve been tossing them in smoothies. With a little (unsweetened) lychee juice, almond-coconut milk, an apple, an orange, sprouts and a small handful of kale, it’s perfectly sweet and refreshing.
But I didn’t grow the basil from seed. It already had leaves when I bought it and transplanted it in my garden and self-watering balcony containers.
My arugula, however, I started from seed. And I thinned it and made it into three lines of greens, praying the transplant took and I was doing it right. The first row grew at a better pace, but all three rows are doing fine now, and it’s good that some are more progressed than others or I’d be eating a whole lot of arugula at once.
Some little critters decided my arugula would be pretty tasty and so you see a bunch of holes in it. But they left more than enough for me. Kind of them, really, to take pity on a first time gardener.
And yesterday for the very first time in my life I harvested something I’s grown from seed. I took 20 arugula leaves home, washed them, and tossed half in a salad. They were mildly peppery (they haven’t gotten too big and strong yet – baby arugula is much milder than full grown), and slimy in an okra kind of way. I love okra.
And I loved my arugula.
And today I saw a little strawberry plant growing! I didn’t buy any strawberry plants, but in my weeding I came across a plant I didn’t recognize in my garden. So unlike all the invasive mint I’d torn out from the edges of my plot, I transplanted the healthy mystery seedling into an open area near my cucumbers. And I waited for whatever it was (probably a weed, I figured) to grow. Today there were two little white strawberries! If they live I’ll be eating my own strawberries within a few weeks. Maybe they’ll be better than Quinn Farms’ pick-your-own where I went on Sunday. They won’t have been inundated with as much water as the early crop at the farm. In fact, I’m pretty sure my strawberries will be better than Farmer Chris’ because they’re MY strawberries.
For now, lots and lots of arugula. Gardening is amazing.
Here’s what to do with arugula:
Arugula, grape and shrimp salad
Candied pecan salad with blueberry-balsamic vinaigrette
Curry-grilled cauliflower with dried figs and toasted pine nuts
Simple seared scallops on arugula
Warm potato salad with mustard and lemon zest
Heirloom tomato salad with peach-sunflower vinaigrette
Thai Curry Squid stir-fry