You’ve heard of the Constant Gardener? I am the Inconsistent Gardener. I’m planting and digging when I can, and my results are sometimes not stellar, but I love smelling the earth and coaxing life out of seeds and transplants. Perfection is not a goal; I am digging around in the dirt for the sheer joy of creating a little nature and beauty in the form of food and flowers in my own spit of earth.

Come be with me on these pages if you love gardening, or like the idea of gardening but are a newbie, OR you are considering doing something you’ve never done before and need a little pep talk. It’s never too late to try new things! I only started gardening in my fifties. My gardens are not pristine, but they’re a source of release and escape. What are your stress relievers?

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.33.53 AMIn May I always look forward with a bright eye to the time I can harvest.  I devoted an entire garden to greens this year.  But, as we all frequently learn, life is no respecter of plans. Time and surgery whisked me away from my weeding duties. When I finally got around to weeding, well, I snapped this picture to share the nightmare I saw before me.

Now you know I am not a dedicated gardener, though the spirit is willing. I garden for the pure joy of seeing if I can grow things. Frustration isn’t an appropriate response when I don’t get a bumper crop if I am not a serious farmer or master gardener. Like many of you, I find projects inside take far longer than I ever anticipate.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.33.59 AMThis year my neglect really put a crimp in my crop. Though I had undergone only minor surgery, the recovery called for elevating my head for a protracted period of time.  Try to weed keeping your head up.

When I finally got outside for weeding duty, drops of rain began to fall. This made the wait all the more worthwhile. I love gardening in light rain. Droplets here and there on the leaves and on my back were refreshing in the midsummer heat. And the smell, the freshness!  You can almost smell the greens opening to receive. There’s something about getting your hands in the earth and playing with plants that is so soothing.

I lost track of time, as I usually do when I’m thought-deep in the earth, fingers and denim knees brown. Getting the weeds under control took me three days of off-and-on work, but I found treasures under the  overgrowth.   My spinach and lettuces were still plugging away at life, waiting for me to discover they needed a little more space to thrive and would I get rid of these sun-hogging weed neighbors, please?

It took three times as long to weed and mulch as I thought it would, but the end result is gratifying. I have my garden back, and it will produce mightily for me the rest of the summer. I’m already planning to seed here and there for a fall crop.

I discovered much of my arugula had developed pods as you can see. There are enough pods to fill all five gardens with arugula next year.  I went on line to find out how to preserve them and, in the process, discovered you can eat the pods

So tonight I’m serving up lemony chicken with arugula pods and a nice big side salad:

Lo-Fat Lemony Chicken with Onions and Arugula Pods

2-4 boneless breasts of chicken (depending on family size, breast for each person)

arugula pods, as many as you wish, depending on  what’s going on in your garden and family tastes

cooking spray, olive oil or coconut oil

one sweet onion, two if more breasts are used

chicken stock , 2 cups, your own homemade if possible ( I used mine)

sea salt, (optional if on low salt regimen)

black pepper or peppercorn medley to taste

Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb or other herb combo

lemon – 1-2 T. depending on your desire for tang

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.34.42 AM1. Coat pan with cooking spray, or use 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil, your preference. I used only cooking spray to cut down on fat. Sauté arugula pods until bubbly, or slightly browned.  Remove. Add more oil if needed for the onion and sauté until opaque or caramelized, your choice. The pods may blister. That’s okay. Set pods and onions aside.

2. Add chicken stock and chicken, salt if using, pepper and Dash. Cook until nearly done.

3. Add lemon. Cook for remaining few minutes. Check chicken for doneness.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.34.49 AM4. Remove breasts to plate. Place onions on side. Grate some lemon zest on top of breasts and sprinkle with arugula, and a lemon slice if desired.  Serve with side salad.

The peppery, distinctive arugula and lemon create quite a unique taste sensation. The arugula also makes an interesting side dish, tasting like a nutty asparagus. It’s very chewy at the tips; you can think of it as extra fiber. Save your lemony-based chicken broth.  Add the extra chicken and spinach, if you want to stay away from white rice, and you have your lunch soup for the next day.

2 Thoughts on “A Midsummer’s Nightmare”

  • Where could I find arugula pods–am afraid i’ve not made their personal acquaintance. They sound yummy.

  • I found my arugula when I separated a pot of mixed greens that was prepared at a local nursery as a container garden. I split them apart last year and planted the seedlings in my lettuce garden. They re-seeded over winter and I had a ton of arugula this year.

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