Greens With a Side of Caterpillar

When I first mentioned to Brian that I was finally ready to start my raised bed garden, he was his usual supportive self.

“Yea! Do it, that would be great.”

A few days later he came home from work with an armful of seed packets! I was so surprised. A co-worker had signed up for one of those monthly subscription boxes and was lousy with seeds he’d never even plant. So, Brian picked what he thought would be good for our garden.

Time grew near for building the raised bed planter. I told Brian that I had plans to only grow what I thought we would actually eat in our garden. I wanted the garden to be something to look forward to and something that I’d stick to. If I grew things that I knew I’d never actually want to eat, I feared the garden would become overgrown. Another lost hobby and a waste of time and money.

Some of the seeds he brought home were things that I quite frankly did not find appealing. He has a much broader pallet than I do. Naturally, since he sourced the seeds we chose what to plant together.  I was a little skeptical when he chose Spicy Mustard Greens. Really? Uck. Okayyy.  I want to enjoy the garden together, but since I’m actually doing the gardening I really don’t want to toil over nonsense, space-wasting veggies.

“I’ll grow it. But you’d better eat that shit.”

He swore he would. And so I gave them a nice cozy spot next to the lettuce varieties.

I have to say, he was totally right about adding mustard greens to our garden. Let me tell you why – if you cook them the way Brian did – they are delicious!

Yesterday, we decided that it was time to harvest the spicy mustard greens.  They were getting much too large and were slapping their neighbors with their lanky leaf-arms. After one of our usual spring-time Texas deluges last week, the leaves were too heavy with water to recover and spring back up. I guess that’s a sign they’re ready to harvest? I don’t know.

Raised Bed Garden Mustard Greens
The Spicy Mustard Greens are the tall ones in the back. This photo was taken before the downpour, before they got “handsy” with their neighbors.

 

We discussed it and it was decided that they would be great as a side to some center cut sirloin steaks. He had a whole plan and a recipe he made up on the spot. He mentioned bacon so I approved it heartily.

We were so giddy. We got our scissors and googled on our phones how to cut mustard greens so that the plant would regrow. As we were harvesting, we noticed that since the last rain storm the greens had a lot of caterpillar bite holes that weren’t there before. One leaf he picked was basically lace! But, by the end, we had a beautiful bowl of greens!

2017-04-19 18.52.06

Brian began washing them and I began crushing the egg shells I’d been saving. I wanted to prevent any future caterpillar attacks and by look of those bug-eaten leaves, procrastination really bit me in the ass this time.

While he was washing and prepping the greens, he found three caterpillars still on the leaves! Ha. It never occurred to us that the wiggly little culprits were still on the leaves.

2017-04-19 18.56.33.jpg

What a first-year, newbie mistake!

The bugs were escorted outside to continue their destruction in the back of the yard, away from the garden and certainly away from our side dish!

I have a new found vigor in keeping pests off my plants.

I know they cause destruction. I know they can kill the plant, but it never occurred to me that it would at least make harvesting and prepping a little easier!

 

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