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Organic Gardening: Like a Crazy Night in Baja

March 17, 2011
by

Maybe it’s appropriate that I write a little gardening post on St. Patrick’s day. After all *most* of the things in my garden are still green… though that might be debatable, and is probably not very long-lived.

This is a story about the perils of bringing garden-fresh vegetables directly to one’s table. Yes. I said perils.

The last few weeks have been an unbelievable whirlwind of insanity. First, with the death of my grandmother and the subsequent traipsing all over the state. Next, with the departure of my husband who set off for a surf-trip to Costa Rica sans wife and baby. And culminating with another trek northward so my sister could see our mom one more time before heading back to her family on the east coast. So our larders were, understandably, pretty scantily clad come Sunday when Gus and I got home. There was no way anyone was going to cram either of us back into the car even for the one-mile trip to the grocery store, so we were stuck with what we had.

Until! I noticed in the garden that our lone mature broccoli was ready! Hooray!!! Food! And just in the nick of time! 

 
 
 

Delicious and Nutritious - and not a moment too soon!

And in we went to wash and cook our season’s first produce. Yay!

Having grown the vegetable myself and knowing damn well I didn’t use any pesticides or other chemicals on it, I did a light wash on the broccoli  to rid it of dust and such and called it good.

Alright folks, if you can see where this is going, you are smarter than I.

I chopped up the broccoli we had left in the fridge and added our garden’s bounty to the pot and steamed up some green tastiness. The home-grown fare was spicier than the grocery store variety but otherwise very similar. I have to say I wasn’t completely blown away by the difference in flavor as I was with green beans we grew last year (those were AMAZING times ten).

I noticed a little silk, like a spiderweb or something, in the broccoli as I ate it and chalked it up to my low-grade washing and didn’t worry too much about it.

Until after dinner. When I emptied the remaining broccoli from the pan and found this:     

 
 

I get heebie jeebies just looking at this photo. Even more than when I took it for some reason.

 

 And then I went back to look at the photos I’d taken of my beautiful teeny broccoli head. And there he was, alive and green, and RIGHT FREAKING THERE on my broccoli. And I hadn’t noticed AT ALL.

This is not the best photo, but THAT? is a freaking caterpillar. No doubt about it.

Camouflaged little fucker. (if you’ll pardon my French.) I wasn’t as traumatized as I might have been, say, if he had not managed to escape the head of broccoli before I went to eat it. But that image of what could have been did haunt me on and off for the rest of the night.

So there you have it. The reason why, even when you *know* that your produce is clean apart from any dust or whatnot, you should most definitely wash the heck out of it. Or at least look closely for caterpillars.

 While cutting the small (really small, is that normal?) head of broccoli from our plant I noticed holes in the leaves and tell-tale caterpillar droppings. Now, you might remember my aversion to many things creepy-crawly in the garden. But I improvised, got out some pliers, and pulled two fat little offenders from my beautiful broccoli plant. Done and done. I was proud of myself.

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