Eatocracy's Managing Editor Kat Kinsman attempts to vegetable garden on a roof deck in Brooklyn, NY in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Feel free to taunt, advise or encourage her efforts as this series progresses.
I'm slightly miffed with everyone who ever neglected to tell me that not only are radish greens totally edible - they rival schmancy, pricey salad standards like arugula, escarole and mache for crunch and distinctive flavor. All you've got to do is wash and chop them, and if you have radish greens around, there's a goodly chance you have radishes as well. Oil, dash of vinegar, dusting of pecorino - boop! Salad.
There I'd gone tossing out plenty of perfectly edible parts of vegetables for most of my life - cauliflower stems, citrus peels, greens of all sorts - until I started growing my own. When I nurture a plant from seed, I tend to encounter an odd ambivalence about actually eating it.
I'm astonished each and every time I manage to conjure and coax a vegetable into being. From a seed, some soil, a handful of rabbit poop and the water hauled jug by jug from the bathroom sink, carrots arrive on the roof of my Brooklyn kitchen. Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, okra, cardoons, artichokes, cotton and ground cherries, too.
This is how nature works, but it amazes me every single time I have a hand in it and it feels like a violation to slip a knife through a tomato's stunning flesh or sink my teeth into a celery stalk. At the same time, while I doubt a blind taste test would bear me out, I'm solidly convinced that the herbs, fruit and vegetables I grow are a thousand times more delicious than those I'd buy at the store, or even (gasp!) the farmers market. Who could blame me for wanting to consume every last leaf and frond?
So I've dug in. With each plant that ripens, I research. Can I shred that stem into a salad? Are the leaves edible raw? No - how about sauteed? Rhubarb leaves are toxic, but boiled, make a potent organic insecticide. I avoid the potato and tomato leaves as well, but beet greens, pea shoots and squash blossoms will adorn my dishes throughout the growing season.
The Earth wants nothing more than to feed us. We might as well fill our plates.
Here, by the way, is a complete list of what I am attempting to grow. Wish me luck.
Planted Saturday, April 17th
Planted Saturday, April 2nd
Planted Sunday, March 27th
Planted Sunday, March 20th
Previously – Notes from Zone 6b – it's aliiiiive!