Hard Earth Farm

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Goats in the Mist: My Green Children 6

Posted by [email protected] on July 16, 2012 at 5:10 PM

As you may or may not be aware, at the beginning of my internship, Mrs. Avrett provided my fellow farmer Nate and me with a generous plot of land on which we planted garbanzo beans, quinoa, tulsi, blue corn, and mustard.

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are a type of fruit (any unbelievers are invited to check Wikipedia) full of protein and fiber. Our oldest garbanzo bean plants are now close to the height of my knee--those that have not been bowed to the ground by the recent storms, that is. I say oldest as we planted more a few weeks ago. The new fellows are cute little plants about three to five inches tall. Unlike the old guys, they are not carrying seed pods. Yes, that's right. We have seeds! Unfortunately, the cutworms appear to have taken a shine to them, so we've been trying to harvest them as soon as possible.

Quinoa is a pseudocereal whose seeds are covered in saponin which can be used as a soap, and who also can provide a full protein. As a vegetarian, I rejoice heartily that our quinoa are towering, six-foot giants with many developing seeds. Despite online warnings that bugs might eat the leaves to pieces, our quinoa have remained remarkable pristine in the foliage department. Miraculous plants that they are, they few that the storms grounded have grown to reach for the sun despite the main stem's lateral position.

Tulsi or sacred basil is a plant that has long been used in religion and medicine; recent studies on it suggest that it truly has beneficial properties where lab rats are concerned. Our tulsi have arguably taken on bush-like proportions and need to be kept from bolting almost every day. The leaves have a delightful scent and taste delicious in our tulsi pesto. We have yet to make tea with the leaves, but we have dehydrated some of leaves. I am looking forward to experimenting with tulsi tea-making.

Blue corn, aka Hopi maize, can be differentiated from its paler cousins by its multi-colored kernels, and they are healthier. Literally. Our blue corn stalks were strong enough to withstand the storms without being knocked over and are a beautiful, seemless green. One fellow has a bend in his stalk and has still managed this feat. They have all tasselled, and some have begun to form heads. Although neither Nate nor I were aware of this at the time, honey bees love corn. This has now become apparent to us from experience.

Mustard is an extremely versatile plant whose leaves, stalks, flowers, and seeds can all be eaten, and in our case, grows like a weed. Due to our inexperience with the plant, Nate and I planted the mustard three inches apart. Now that they are grown, it's difficult for me not to see them as taking part in a caged battle royale to the death. They are producing leaves that look like an elephant's ears and are vying against their neighbors with them for sunlight. Now that most of them have flowered, they are hot, hot, hot. Eating one of their leaves raw is now akin to taking a bite of wasabi, and, we haven't even tasted the ones that have begun to develop seed pods yet.

I'm so proud of them, my green children. 

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