Grazing My Way Through The Lull

Grazing My Way Through The Lull

Cmon, let’s go!

Though I’ve been doing a vegetable garden for 20 years, I often rue my stupidity at this particular moment, when, if I’m not vigilant, there is nothing in the garden to eat.  This season, we’ve already had lots of nice spring meals of sugar snap peas and favas, garlic scapes, spinach, cilantro, and arugula.

But now the favas and sugar snaps are burning up in the heat, and the spinach and cilantro have gone to seed. Ditto the arugula, possibly the single most important vegetable to my health and happiness. And it’s gone so to seed, that there aren’t even any side leaves worth harvesting off the stems.

But the next wave of great meals hasn’t yet started. No eggplants yet, no peppers, no tomatoes, no potatoes, no cucumbers, no summer squashes, no pole beans. Even the beets, a cool-weather crop, are not quite ready.  The beet greens at least are nice, but I don’t have an easy time of it when I try to feed my kids a load of oxalic acid at every single meal. I made my first pesto this week, but only by denuding the poor young little basil plants more than I really should have.

An intelligent gardener would have anticipated the mass going-to-seed that always accompanies the summer solstice and planted a second crop of arugula and cilantro, plus a bunch of other lettuces, in early June. The stupid gardener but intrepid cook–me–just makes due with what’s out there. Yesterday afternoon, there were exactly 5 okra pods waiting for me. Okay! I scissored off some of my cutting celery and bay leaves, yanked out a few young leeks and bought some Price Chopper peppers. Andouille sausage from the Putnam Market, one of my buddy Rick’s chickens from the freezer, and there you go–gumbo!  It was delicious.

In two or three weeks, I’ll have an insane bounty in my garden. It’s frustrating that it’s so stingy now. But the upside is that I do all my best cooking in the lulls. The lack of any one thing in abundance inspires creativity and a light hand.  I’ve watched my sister-in-law Na–who is Thai and a professional cook–make a meal out of nothing from my garden in the lull, too.  A couple of black garbanzo beans, a little chard, maybe some carrot tops.  The result is a feast.

Making do–using a little of this and a little of that–I suspect it’s the method of all great home cooks from time immemorial.


Posted by

Michele Owens
on June 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm, in the category Eat This, Feed Me.


    • Jeane
    • 11th October 2016

    I have the exact same lull in the garden right now. My beets aren’t ready yet, and I can only pick a handful of cherry tomatoes or green beans each day, so it takes several day’s worth to have a significant amount. The only thing I can consistently harvest right now it turnips, which my kids don’t really like, and hot peppers, which I don’t really like!

    • Cathy
    • 1st December 2016

    Thanks for saying this out loud. I have been feeling so frustrated after all our work, to have nothing to eat. I Keep muttering “have patience” to myself.

    • Kaviani
    • 12th December 2016

    I feel your arugula pain (ours went to seed in February), but keep in mind they would’ve bolted anyway if you reseeded in heat. THAT would’ve been the real tragedy…hoping for deliciousness but getting only stringy bitterness.

    • commonweeder
    • 12th December 2016

    One big planting of greens has bolted, but I guess I have to thank the rabbits that have been making their own meals in the garden, for the successive planting of lettuce and beans which will be harvestable in another week or so. The sugar snaps were a total loss. But salads we have.

    • admin
    • 14th December 2016

    Onions and garlic are all I am getting from the garden vegetable wise. The peas got yanked early because the heat zapped ’em. The beans are planted late ( to thwart the japanese beetles which a few years ago decided green beans were their absolutley favorite thing in the yard- even over roses) the pepers are growing, the tomatos are flowering but no fruit (is it too hot for them to set fruit?) Got just enough blueberries for pancakes, just enough red raspberries for eating out of hand. The basil, planted for the THIRD time (dam’ squirrels) is barely up. Not a good year due to the drought and the heat. Last year was so wet and cool didn’t have much of a garden either. But next year will be better, right?

    • Gail
    • 16th December 2016

    I haven’t harvested anything from my garden yet. With the heat and the drought the strawberries were teeny tiny. I’ve had to replant the broccoli, corn, cucumbers, onions and green beans. I planted more peppers and some pumpkins too. Zucchini were setting fruit but with temps near 90 the fruit is aborting or rotting. Oh I did harvest some basil and had with patio tomatoes a plant I bought for $7! in April while visiting my sister in VA-it was so worth it.

Leave a comment