Wait! Don’t let that bolting spinach go to waste!

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ALL of the spinach and garlic (which covers most of this bed, actually) are volunteers.  How nice of them!  And by letting them flower and go to seed now, I’ll have yet another crop of spinach this fall, with no extra work needed by me to make it happen.  Garden magic!

Cut!  Wash!  Spin!  Blanche!  Spin!  Freeze!  This has been my battle cry for the past couple of days now.  We had a warm spell last week that signaled to the spinach, “Hey, time for you to set some seed.”  Only I really wasn’t finished enjoying all the greens yet.  But alas, it’s supposed to hit 90 degrees this week and it would have bolted sooner or later.  C’est la vie, non?  What to do?  Well, I did the only thing I could do–I harvested as much as I could and froze it to enjoy over the summer!  This is what I harvested on Thursday night, which was about 3/4 of what I harvested total from this bed.

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I filled my salad spinner and a huge metal mixing bowl.  Then I filled the metal bowl again!

It was a pretty decent haul and I will enjoy spinach artichoke dip, spinach feta pockets, spinach on my pizza and in my pasta all summer now because it’s sitting in my freezer just waiting for the right recipe to come along.  At least this year I had my act together and got to actually eat some spinach–last year I got it in the ground late and it bolted a week after it came up (although I’m reaping rewards from that now).  I only got to eat 3 or 4 leaves last year.

I don’t normally blanche my greens before I freeze them.  I know, I know.  THEY, whoever they are, SAY you are supposed to.  But I’m lazy.  And it takes extra time and energy to do it.  So I usually don’t.  And I’ve not regretted it yet.  However, this year the leaf miners were getting a little rowdy on my spinach.  There was some minor damage to the leaves and I fed those to the chickens.  But when I say rowdy….I mean frisky.  There are eggs.  Plenty of them.  They are easy to spot, and fairly easy to rub off with your fingers.  But given the quantity of spinach I had to deal with, I just didn’t feel that massaging every single leaf to remove eggs was in the cards for me right now.  Or ever.  So in order to kill the little buggers, I blanched them.

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After I blanched the spinach I put it in the salad spinner again to remove as much water as I could before it went into the freezer.  I love my salad spinner!  I use it constantly in the summer for greens, herbs, pasta, and now, blanched spinach.

Shhhh!  Don’t tell Hubby I did this.  He might get freaked out that we’re going to be eating bug eggs this summer.  I know there are a lot of people that would be completely freaked out by the thought of eating these eggs, but look at them:

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Leaf miner damage on the right and a row of white eggs on the left.

They are TINY!  TEENSY!  You wouldn’t even know you were eating them!  And after spending a minute or two in boiling water, they are dead!  Besides, it’s just a little extra protein, and there’s no harm in eating them.  You probably eat plenty of gross insect/animal parts in the processed foods you buy in the grocery store or in a restaurant.  At least I know exactly what I’m eating…

Since leaf miner eggs can overwinter in the soil no problem, I think I’m going to let my chickens roam around in this bed this fall and eat up a bunch of bugs, eggs, and weeds.  I’m sure they will enjoy it, and I’ll appreciate their efforts.  Chickens are the best pest control I’ve come across yet.  The 8 or so I had when I lived on 5 acres in the South absolutely annihilated the flea and tick population we had, and it was robust in the pre-chicken days.  Stinker used to get tapeworm infections every 2 months like clockwork before the chickens ate all the fleas.  I can’t believe more people in buggy areas don’t have chickens roaming their properties–a bomber organic solution to pests.

In other garden news:  I ATE MY FIRST STRAWBERRY TODAY!  I’m more than a little excited, in case it wasn’t apparent.  I plucked it and popped it in my mouth in about 5 seconds.  It was still warm from the sun.  Ahh, one of life’s finer pleasures.  Here’s my next victim, hiding amongst the leaves:

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There’s strawberry magic hiding in there!

And finally, my fava beans are flowering.  I’ve never grown favas before.  In fact, I’m growing a ton of things for the first time this year, mostly to experiment and see what does well and what doesn’t.  The favas have really beautiful flowers:

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Now I’m just waiting until it cools down so I can get some tomatoes planted this evening at my new community garden plot.  I was out there this morning weeding my sweet corn that has just popped up, but I’ve got a lot of work to do to prep for tomatoes.  The garden managers rototilled it earlier this spring, but it has been a while, and the weeds are plentiful.  Instead of trying to weed, I think my approach is going to be to lay down cardboard, cut holes in it where I want my tomatoes to go, and then mulch with straw.  I’ll put my soaker hoses under the cardboard, and I think (hopefully) I’ll be able to smother most of the weeds and then this fall I can deal with them as needed.  I’m really hoping this approach works!

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