I went out Sunday to find the garden destroyed. The moose came back. This time with a friend.
The way the tracks looked in the cabbage bed the moose were NOT happy to find the cabbages gone. I, in a moment of a twisted sense of humor (if you can't laugh, what else can you do?) as I was salvaging what I could of the wreckage, thought of how the entire event HAD to have gone down. I named the moose Ted and Bob for the sake of hilarity.
Ted *standing in what had once been the cabbage bed, looking around*: "Hey, Bob!"Anyway, you find reasons to not cry when you are picking up the meager remains of your garden. The moose had pulled out some carrots by the tops, others they'd trampled into the ground and broke the tops off. The turnips were much the same. The peas were ripped out of the ground or eaten and definitely ripped off the trellis. The garden, in short, was a huge moose riddled mess. Oddly enough, the only thing that survived unscathed were the beans. Bush or pole the moose just kind of went around them and didn't bug them. They must not have liked beans or something. So, the pole beans I carefully unwound from the remains of the pea plants and put them back up onto the trellis to grow more (after I put the trellis back up again), the bush beans got a bit bruised but are still alive and one lowly rat tailed radish survived in tact somehow. Other than that the garden was shot.
Bob *sniffing around and not finding any cabbages, realizing he's in trouble*: "Um, yeah, Ted?"
Ted: "I thought you told me there were delicious cabbages here."
Bob: "Um, yeah, I guess the two legger came in and pulled them. Or maybe that other moose, Abbot, down the road, got them."
Ted *looking at Bob like he's not believing a word*: "Uh huh. Well, Bob, you know what that means right? You still owe me twenty bucks."
Bob *looking desperate*: "But, Ted! Look at these yummy peas!" *chews on the peas zealously while making "yum" sounds*
Ted: "Not good enough, Bob."
Bob *looking around*: "Oh, hey, there's TONS of turnip greens! If you just stomp on them like this..." *lifts hoof and stomps turnip greens into the ground hard* "...and then eat them, they are nice and tender and none of the spiky bits will bug you!" *Eats turnip greens and isn't impressed but does it trying to sell Ted on the idea*
Bob: "Ted?" *Turns around to see Ted already walking away down the driveway*
Bob *chasing after Ted*: "Aw, come on Ted! I don't have twenty bucks!!! Ted??? Ted!?!"
*Bob and Ted exit scene*
So, Sunday started "Operation Garden Salvage" (or as I nicknamed it, "Oooooo! I really hate that moose!"...say it like Yosemite Sam in your head. You'll thank me later).
Here is what I was able to get out of the remains of the garden. Be prepared. This gets a bit weird. But it worked!
The turnips were pretty small when I dug what was left of them (the only decent sized one, one of moose bit in half...no comment on what I called it). I was able to salvage a good portion of the greens, however, and I blanched and froze those Saturday and some on, I think, Monday (man the week has kind of rushed by...I THINK it was Monday...anyway...I blanched and froze the turnip greens is really the important part *laugh*).
The beet greens...there wasn't much left of those. I ended up throwing what I could salvage in with the turnip greens when I processed them. Sad fate, that. The turnips themselves I threw in with a beef roast I made last night (and thus they ended up as part of a meat pie tonight as well) as they were so tiny, what was left, that they could all be used at once.
Monday I actually made sauerkraut to steep down in the pantry for the next couple of months (well I guess at this point it's cabbage in a beginning brine to ferment over the next couple of months, but close enough). My neighbor stopped by and checked out the destruction. He felt sorry for me when he saw me staring forlournly at my beautiful garden laying in tatters and next thing I knew he came back over armed with two of his early harvest cabbages that he'd picked "just in case" as last year the moose had wiped out his cabbages as well. He's been my gardening buddy since I moved in here years ago and his generosity made the day a bit more bearable. We had as much of a conversation as I could muster that day with how bad my voice was and I told him I was so going to give him a hug when I was feeling better and I am definitely keeping myself to that. I also grabbed a couple of jars of home made jams and jellies to bring over with me when I do to thank him for his generosity.
Between the two cabbages I had in the fridge and the two he gave me I was able to put up seven quarts of sauerkraut to ferment. I was thrilled to put up a decent amount of SOMETHING for winter this month, anyway.
2. The carrots (some of them seen up above number one)
I'm still not completely done with these, sadly. I still need to blanch and freeze the bag of baby carrots I got from the plants, but the carrots that were left I placed aside and dealt with the greens first. But, this is what I got done Tuesday in between everything else going on. Notice the jar on the right hand side of sauerkraut that I STILL needed to put down in the dark pantry? Yup, that's how with it I was this week *laugh*.
this recipe used orange juice and orange zest (neither of which I had) with some cilantro in the pesto, so I figured the flavors would go together okay. I used a container of Blue Diamond raw almonds from the freezer that I've had forever (I bought a flat of them from Amazon years, and I mean YEARS ago and they have stayed good in the freezer all these years as I used them slowly but surely...I'm down to my last container now...I'll kind of miss them when they are gone) and used half the container for each type of pesto. I used grated Parmesan (you know the stuff that comes in the green shaker) and garlic cloves from my braid of garlic I made last year (still going strong actually). Overall I spent 1.98 on herbs (I had a personalized price on parsley and cilantro, oddly enough) and that was it for the materials I had to buy to make it.
Overall I'm looking forward to experimenting with the pesto and seeing what it works with in the months to come. I got four bags of pesto out of the carrot tops, but I doubt I'll have to use a full bag for most applications, so I'm figuring on just breaking off what I need as I need it.
Yup, you read that right. Pea plants. Did you know that pea plants are completely edible? Weird huh?
I looked at the remains of the pea plants and tried to figure out something to do with them. I hadn't gotten many peas this year yet because of the weather and had JUST gotten my first sandwich bag full processed and put into the freezer for winter. So, I was ticked and felt really cheated knowing that the peas were dead. So, in a moment of utter frugalness, I ripped off EVERY single leaf from the plants, any flowers and ripped off any shoots/vines that were still decently tender (you don't want the thick vines as they get really woody) and threw them into a bowl right along with the few peas that were on the plants. After staring at them a few hours I finally figured out what to do with them.
In Julia Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two" she shares a recipe for "Edible Pea Pod Soup". Well, I figured if the recipe was good enough for pea pods, it should be good enough for pea plants right along with the pods, right? I did change a bunch of stuff in the recipe to make it more flavorful as the pea leaves and things weren't as heavily flavored as pea pods, I figured. Like the original recipe called for just water to be used when cooking down the pea pods, I used chicken stock (well in this case reconstituted chicken bouillon since I didn't have any chicken stock in the freezer) and I added a piece of crisp bacon crumbled up to the onions to help give the soup base more flavor (I had the bacon in the fridge left over from a breakfast dinner...waste not, want not).
I finished the first stage of the soup last night, late, after simmering the pea plants/peas/pods/the whole shabang for an hour. I then put it into the fridge to sit and went to bed, sucking on a cough drop (at least I AM getting better..just slowly...I could actually talk near normally today!).
Tonight I pulled out the good old food processor and food mill, and a bag of frozen peas, and got to work. I pureed the pea plant soup cold in the food processor. Meanwhile I cooked the bag of frozen peas (minus about 1/3 of a cup that I put into the meat pie for dinner tonight) on the stovetop. I then put the pureed soup through the food mill (TOTALLY NECESSARY if you do this! You will not believe how much fibrous material the soup will have in it until you puree it and strain it. Trust me!). I then drained the cooked peas, pureed them in the food processor too and put them through the food mill as well...just to add more of "kicked up pea flavor" to the soup base.
Here's the final product....
I divided the soup base into two cup measures in some quart sized freezer bags and then placed the freezer bags inside a gallon sized freezer bag JUST in case they leaked and put the whole lot in the freezer. I ended up with four bags of soup base, which you are supposed to add milk, water and a bit of cream, or sour cream, to the soup when you finish it, which I will do (the cream might end up being milk with flour added, or I'll use sour cream powder, but it'll work fine) when we actually eat the soup, but as it is right now it's really tasty! I was proud of this one, honestly :).
And so ends the saga of the 2017 garden...well unless the beans start really producing beans and I can actually process some for use over the winter months (which would be nice). But, yeah, as salvage efforts go...it went okay. Wish there had been more to salvage, but I did what I could with what I had.
And now onto figuring out tomorrow's endeavors, working on monthly goals and other matters. Hope you all had a better gardening week than I did!