Apparently, when my plot-mates and I planted up our community garden plot this spring, we seeded everything a little too thickly…and then we all sort of (in a very “community” way, it seems) forgot to thin any of the young seedlings out. This has resulted in a plot that has fairly exploded with a thick canopy of monstrous white-veined Swiss chard leaves that are protectively shading out masses of tiny, twisted carrots; two tight rows of very coveted tender beets; some crowded nasturtiums which have produced exactly two flowers to date; a handful of robust and densely-packed green bean plants; and a couple of cherry tomato plants that are popping forth oddly-shaped, slightly spotty orange tomatoes. While I’ve been having a wonderful time cooking up as much Swiss chard as I can eat, I’ve also noticed that our poor white onions have suffered in part due to our planting methods. When I was out harvesting a couple of evenings ago, I saw that some of our onion plants had flopped over and turned a sickly yellow; when I yanked them up, they were slimy and covered in tiny slithering white maggots. These are the dreaded onion maggots (Delia antiqua, syn. Hylemya antiqua), and they’re ruining our plants because we’ve got them stuffed in the plot so tightly – this, combined with an abundance of rainfall and relatively cool summer temperatures. There’s nothing we can do about them now, except destroy the infected plants – by throwing them in the garbage, not the compost. Lesson learned!
Disgusting beasts, aren’t they?
On a much more pleasant note, if you’ve got an abundance of Swiss chard, as I have, try this utterly delicious soup:
4 cups chopped fresh Swiss chard
1 cup chopped fresh beet greens
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp milk
freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/2 cup havarti cheese, shredded
Saute vegetables in olive oil until greens are reduced. Add stock and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and puree with hand blender. Add milk and cheese and reheat gently (do not boil). Add pepper to taste.
Highly recommended: Gardening, Naturally: A Chemical-Free Handbook for the Prairies – Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner (2011, Coteau Books)
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