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Monday, October 3, 2011

Garden Party and Die-and-go-to-Heaven German Chocolate Cake

I have a garden this year, a real producing, dang-I-just-made-dinner-from-my-harvest garden (ok, it was only a pasta sauce, but....still).  This, like most of what gets accomplished around here, is due in no small part to efforts from my husband.  He convinced me to try raised beds this year, undoubtedly inspired by my lack luster attempts at gardening in years past.  OMG, like my switch to denim jeans with some stretch, I will never go back.  My only complaint (of course I have to have one) is that he only put in TWO raised beds.  What was he thinking?  I filled those puppies up in no time.  Maintenance is ridiculously easy and because of the location we chose -- I walk past them probably 20 times a day--- it's hard not to care for them.

From July - I had sunflowers in the middle with young lettuce surrounding my stepping stone, tomatoes in the back and some carrots and brussel sprouts in the front.

My other bed, in July - cauliflower, broccoli in front, peppers in the middle and sweet potatoes and a few other brassicas in the back (my gardening assistant, Tonka the wonder cat, on the left)

Along about August I noticed a wee problem with my brassicas....ALL my brassicas.  The kale I had in pots, the kale I had in the side beds along-side my house, the cauliflower, the broccoli, the brussel sprouts.  Little worms, cabbage worms, were feasting and having a garden party, smorgasbord-style the likes of which hasn't been seen since we celebrated the turn of the century.  I set about picking the little suckers off and disposing of them humanely (i.e. tossing them in the tree-line).  I admit that my need to not do harm to the little vicious creatures became increasingly hard to maintain, but I didn't knowingly crush any of them, however a few died "accidentally" in the removal process.  It quickly became clear that I was losing the battle, and I tried various home-made concoctions to spray on the plants, but always the voracious buggars would be back---even tried removing the eggs....still they out-numbered me.  So, I ended up pulling out nearly all my brassicas, but have a few that I check several times a day and hopefully cooler weather will solve my worm issues.

  The culprit.

But they know a superfood when they see one!  My poor kale.

Carrots in the background and what's left of my brussel sprouts in the foreground.

They don't like peppers though....I'll be growing more of those next year and also sowing kale earlier to see if I can beat the worm season.

Not all is worm-food though; I've harvested pounds and pounds of tomatoes with plenty more on the way.  The very tall plants in back are a local heirloom variety called Calloway, an excellent producer.

         Here are the Calloways this morning, in October----doing very well....and no worm damage. 

This species of kale seems to be not the preferred worm entree.  This plant may even survive.

Spinach (La Dolce Vita) also doing well and I just sowed some more seeds in the newly vacant spots in the raised beds.  Am thinking of framing and covering one of the beds to try to extend the season and harvest spinach, beets and maybe some cool-weather kale later this year, sans worms.

Baby red lettuce (letti???) coming up along with new spinach.  I read recently that lettuce seed doesn't germinate well in hotter soil, so that could explain why I am getting better germination now.

My husband loves German Chocolate cake and I always make one for his birthday.  This past year I could not bring myself to make that fat laden, artery clogging creation, so I set upon the hunt for a vegan version.  I found one at this site:

and decided to give it a whirl.  Now, it is not exactly health food, but is definitely a better option than the traditional recipe.  I ended up just making the round pans and not stacking the cake layers and instead of using the ganache to frost the sides, I drizzled it heavily on the top.  This cake is amazing.....simply amazing.  My husband said it's the best dessert I've made in years.  We will likely have it only once or twice a year, but it is great to have this option available.  I think this would make up great as mini-cupcakes too to take to a party.

Sue, gardening, despite the worms, in Ohio
I guess my garden fairies don't mind worms.....well, they do grow up to be pretty cute butterflies/moths....even if they are complete kale hogs!!!

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