Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What's Growin' On: 4/19/06

Sad Little Seedlings (And An Even Sadder Gardener)

Realization Of The Day:
I can stop worrying about getting the broccoli planted. I do this every year. I start seeds too late (well, I didn't think February 28th was all that late), they sprout but take forever to set true leaves, and then by the time they do, they've been all but forgotten in the hustle and bustle of other garden activity. So here it is April 19th, temps are in the 90s, and not only have my crowded broccoli seedlings not yet been transplanted into individual plugs (I did have them moved onto the potting bench--slight progress), but I obviously forgot to water them yesterday afternoon.

So why do I torture myself year after year? Because I absolutely adore broccoli. And because once, many years ago, I grew two dozen heads of the most incredible broccoli I have ever tasted--and the memory refuses to fade. I've harvested a few heads here and there since then, and once I let the plants simply grow all summer, providing me with a few flowerets and lots of tender (and extremely nutritious) little leaves to toss into salads. I figure that someday everything will perfectly align itself just as it did that one glorious year, and my persistence will pay off. In the meantime, perhaps this will be the summer I remember to start broccoli seeds in August and transplant the seedlings into the greenhouse for a successful late fall/early winter crop.

One must never give up hope in the garden--for that is really all that keeps us gardening. (Which is why I'm going to go ahead and transplant those itty bitty leeks you see in the photo. You never know.)

And to console myself, today I will enjoy a bowl of the delicious, oh-so-easy broccoli soup I created yesterday (with storebought broccoli, of course) which will be even more flavorful today. And as I am slurping it up, I will imagine how amazing it will taste when I am able to make it with my very own harvest.

Farmgirl's Simplest Broccoli Soup
I like my soups pureed and very thick. Amounts are totally up to you, so you can easily make a thinner (or less oniony) soup if you like. Heat several Tablespoons of good olive oil in a large pot, then add lots and lots of coarsely chopped onions (I used four good-sized ones). Cook until onions are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 mintues or so. Stir in 1/4 cup of uncooked rice (this helps thicken the soup), then add about 4 cups (32 ounces) homemade chicken stock (or top quality storebought) and one large head of coarsely chopped broccoli. The soup will look too thick--it is not. Bring it all to a boil, then simmer with the lid barely cracked until broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes.

Use a blender or hand immersion blender (I am deeply in love with my KitchenAid Hand Blender) to carefully puree the soup, then cook a few more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topped with whatever you like (chopped fresh chives, a drizzle of olive oil, some coarsely grated pecorino romano, dollops of sour cream, a slice of cheddar cheese) or absolutely nothing at all. While devouring, feel grateful for the existence of something as wonderful as broccoli--no matter where it comes from.

From Garden To Table:
Lettuce, Lettuce, Lettuce!

Harvest For The Henhouse:
Three varieties of half dead heirloom broccoli seedlings.

Minding The Moonsigns:
Today, tomorrow, and Friday are third quarter fertile days: perfect for planting things that grow underground (like potatoes and garlic) and doing any kind of transplanting.


  1. Oh darn on the broccoli plants! I know what you mean about some of the best tasting home grown broccoli ever. I just bought my started plants this year (36 of them), the packman variety. I have killed my seedlings for the past two years, this year I didn't try to start my own.

    The broccoli soup looks tastey. I'd send you some of my frozen homegrown broccoli from my freezer if I could... it would be good grief food.

  2. I had a very narrow escape from exactly the same thing happening to a lot of my seedlings. Someone ought to remind me that it's counterproductive to wait until the seedlings are *unhealthy* before planting them! Oh well.

    P.S. Have you tried growing purple sprouting broccoli? As a broccoli lover, you might be just the person to appreciate it as much as I do. :-)

  3. Excusemoi?
    Half dead broccoli seedlings?
    Whitey and I felt that some of that lovely soup would be a more suitable offering, hen-house-wise.

  4. I'm very envious. I can't grow broccoli here until after July. Damn Florida heat! I will give your soup a try when (if?) I produce my favorite veggie in a few months.


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