My How Our Garden Grows

EVERYWHERE A SIGN

When was the last time the first thing you saw as you walked into a restaurant was this:

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Or this:

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The term farm to table is all the rage, but how often do you walk through a farm to get to your table? OK, farm might be a slight exaggeration. But it is a garden. And it is productive. And it does go into the food we serve.

So it’s practical. But it’s also symbolic in an age where all too often the food we eat is “produced” behind the scenes–conveniently cut, washed and shrink-wrapped. The iconic silo and the kitchen garden we pass as we walk into Básico remind us of the intrinsic connection between what we grow in and harvest from the soil and what we put in our mouths. And it reminds us that when we put out crop plants or lay in seeds, we’re committing our future to chance. Planting a garden is simultaneously giddy and sobering. We put in plants, pray they take root, and keep our eyes on the skies.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEPPER

To plant a garden is to surrender a large measure of control. The weather is in the driver’s seat. Weather determines moisture (too much, too little or, occasionally, just the right amount). It invites bugs, either beneficial ones (like honey bees that help pollenate our plants) or detrimental ones (like the cabbage loopers that just focused their ferocious appetites on our mint!). It favors one crop over another. Late this summer, it cast a landslide vote for Ghost Peppers. So what do you do when life deals you Ghost Peppers? This:

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Gardening instills a peculiar sort of discipline–thrift, our grandparents would call it. The very idea of throwing away the fruit that garden bears–any of it–strikes us as nothing short of profane. Ghost Peppers are 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, so you don’t just glibly chop up gobs of it and toss it in a salsa. So what do you do with it? You make Ghost Pepper Sauce, of course. Lots of it. And what do you do with lots of ghost pepper sauce? For starters, you make Ghost Pepper Grapefruit Margaritas, sit back, and think of other brilliant ways to work the sauce into other recipes.

THE BUZZ      

We mentioned bugs earlier. When urban garden consultant Elizabeth Beak of Crop Up designed our garden, she planted butterfly bush to attract pollinators to help foster productive plants. Imagine her excitement when we spotted a number of these on her butterfly bushes:

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That is a monarch butterfly caterpillar. Just think, Básico’s butterfly bush holding court for the crown prince of butterflies.

COOL BEANS

Haven’t you always thought of beans as a hot-weather crop? Well, the Negro de Arbol is an heirloom variety of glossy, intensely black bean cultivar that has been planted in Central America since before recorded history. Básico buys them dried year-round in 25-pound bags from Rancho Gordo, an outstanding purveyor of dried heirloom vegetables (Mixson Market just across the street offers them to the public in mere mortal-sized bags).

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Inspired by their incredible taste, we thought, “Why not plant some ourselves?” So we got some seed through Rancho Gordo’s Seed Savers’ Exchange and sowed them–one row of Negro de Arbols and one of Scarlet Runners. Here’s what we got so far:

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We also planted some of these cool weather crops on Wednesday:

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Of course we’ll keep you posted, but better yet, stop by and measure the growth yourself. After all, it’s what you’re about to eat.