I always think of home veggie gardening as a vintage activity.
Maybe it’s because I am known to wear a giant-brimmed hat and women always used to wear hats, back in the day.
Or, maybe gardening feels vintage because of the rubber boots. They make me invincible to The Nature from the knees down. And, you can jump in puddles with impulsive tra-la-la.
Maybe it feels vintage because gardening is all about growing your own food and eating local. That whole recent trend? Vintage, actually!
Or, perhaps veggie gardening feels vintage because Apple hasn’t yet invented some kind of iMiracle to help with
- the weeding,
- the more weeding,
- the even more weeding (even though you thought you got them all yesterday)
- the never-ending weeding.
I would sleep outside the Apple store if they came out with an iWeeder. Instead, I feel that I am channeling my ancestors as we behold the resilience and fortitude that are weeds.
But now, boys and girls, it is officially scape season. There’s just no escaping it. The scapes, I mean.
A scape is the edible curly-cue that grows out of the centre of hard-necked garlic varieties. They’re like a cowlick in an otherwise beautiful garlic coiffure (I feel a kinship). In our part of the world, we harvest garlic scapes in June, a month or two before the actual garlic bulbs in the ground are ready. Scapes are very mild and taste like garlicky asparagus.
Confession: When I was 16 and billeted for a week into a German family in West Berlin, they served gigantic, tree-trunk spears of white asparagus for dinner (with pickled eel). I ate it because I was a polite Canadian girl (and I didn’t yet know how to say “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, I’m allergic to this whole dinner” in German so I was linguistically prevented from telling a colossal, cross-cultural fib). After that dinner, I never thought I would say that I loved something that tasted like asparagus.
If you hate asparagus, you must try it tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, then grilled. Parmesan shaved over the top once they’re cooked to nutty, caramelized perfection (about 10 minutes) only makes it even more irresistible. Soooo Yum! Use the same recipe for the scapes (or saute on the stovetop with some white wine, hot pepper flakes and the rest of the above). As for the pickled eel, well, you’ll have to make decisions for yourself. I prefer my eels…ugh…no I’m afraid, I don’t prefer eels.
But, garlic scapes are great. That is, of course, unless you’re one of those modern-day-abundant, immortal creatures who roams the night and is in love with some girl called Bella. Then, forget about the grilling and you might also want to avoid our property even if it’s safely after dark in the light of a beautiful moonscape (I’m on kind of a scape roll) and you look all sparkly.
We are not vampire people. We are not sparkly, but rather, possibly smelly, because we loooove the garlic. We watch and wait until suddenly, almost overnight, it happens: scapes! Right now, our garden landscape (sorry, I’ll try to stop soon) is resplendent with the curly little gems.
Practical Man planted three kinds of hard-necked garlic last fall:
- Music (isn’t that a lovely name for a garlic?)
- German Red (makes me think of Snoopy as the Red Baron. Also, slightly of eel.)
- Georgia Fire (loved the name and spicy connotations).
Garlic grows really well in our terrible soil. It’s as if we have a glittering city of skyscapers in our garden (okay, that one was reaching). This year, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of 80 bulbs. Looking at the patch, over the garden fence, it’s a veritable seascape (I can’t help myself) of garlic, as far as the eye can see.
So, gardening: yes, it’s vintage. Sure, it’s weedy. There can be great hats and boots. And, somewhere in all the weeding, you get goodies, fresh from the earth.
Or, at least garlic, which, in our house, is a major food group. If you haven’t had scapes, look for them at your local farm stands, farm gates and markets.
And, I’m sorry for all the bad puns.
I’m looking around for a scapegoat, but I can’t find one.