So far I am completely sold on Square Foot Gardening. It is 1000 times easier than row gardening, and truly, weeding is a pleasure! Besides manipulating the tomato plants up their cages or the cukes up the trellis, pulling the occasional weed in my true SFG boxes is the ONLY maintenance I have had to do.
If you are not familiar with Square Foot Gardening, Mel insists that a key component to SFG success is “Mel’s Mix”. This is a soil mixture of 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost. Mel instructs us to not use our existing garden soil, but instead to create Mel’s Mix ourselves and fill the boxes with it. My husband was extremely skeptical of purchasing soil components when we live surrounded by fields…using existing soil…growing wonderfully… I didn’t blame him, but as the only one who does the weeding, I insisted in experimenting. He agreed that I could fill some of the boxes with Mel’s Mix as long as I left our existing soil in the others. Anyway, long story just to tell you that the potato box above used our existing soil. It’s not a great photograph, but I can assure you the 40% of the green is weeds. I went two days without checking on the garden once and when I walked out there the potato box was completely overrun with weeds! It was a good reminder to me of last year’s garden – row style, that I lost to weeds. I am happy to report that this year, however, that the rest of the boxes are 99% weed-free!
In this picture the arugula has already been mostly harvested. Besides basil, it’s the first thing I harvested from the garden! I was totally shocked with how much arugula came up, and a little bummed by how little Romaine came up. I plan on planting more soon though, although I’m not sure it will come up in the heat of summer. Anyone know the answer to that for me?
You can see the larger watermelon plant to the upper right of the leaf lettuce. That one was started from seed and is looking really healthy, albeit small. In the upper left corner next to that white stick is the second watermelon plant. This one I purchased as a seedling from a local greenhouse, and handed it to my 4-year-old Big Helper to take over to the garden for me. The next thing I heard was “Oops, Mommy, I think you should have taken this out.” She had pulled the seedling straight out of the carton, completely exposing the roots! All I could do was chuckle, and try to salvage the plant. It’s not doing too great, needless to say.
I made a few mistakes planning my garden, but then I expected to make some mistakes my first time at SFG. I spaced some of the plants a little unwisely, like putting the peppers next to the tomatoes and trying to grow snap peas in between two tomato plants. Next year I think I will plant all my tomatoes along the fence, where they can grow as bushy as they want without stealing the sunlight from other plants.
Ok, enough about my garden! Let’s get to the recipe! Here’s the thing: I’m not a huge fan of arugula raw. Or at least I didn’t think I was, until I was faced with an overabundance of the stuff! I happened to be surfing Pinterest for clever ways to serve pesto as an appetizer when I came across a recipe for arugula pesto. So I whipped some up and it turns out that it is fantastic! I doubled this recipe mostly because I had so much arugula and also because I wanted to give some as gifts. I also changed the recipe slightly. The original recipe would call for a whole cup of oil to double the recipe, but as I was slowly adding the oil, it reached consistency at around 3/4 of a cup.
Arugula Pecan Pesto (This made enough for 2 half-pint jars)
What you will need:
- 4 cups arugula, washed
- 1 cup pecans
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for toasting
- salt and pepper if needed (I didn’t use any)
- Food processor
Warm a little oil in a saute pan on the stove and toast the garlic and pecans for about 2-3 minutes.
Add all ingredients, except salt and pepper, and half the oil to the food processor and pulse a few times. Stop, scrape down the sides, then turn the food processor back on, adding the rest of the oil while the machine is running.
When the pesto has reached the consistency desired taste it and decide if it needs salt or pepper. I think the arugula adds all the pepper it needs, and the cheese adds all the salt it needs, but you may decide it needs more.
After the pesto looks like this, it’s ready to be consumed! You can mix it into pasta, spread it on toasted bread or pizza, or get creative! I think it can be canned, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’m going to whip up another batch soon though and try it, and then I’ll update this post. I’m also pretty sure it will be fine frozen, I also haven’t tried that.
We’re having this on pizza for dinner tonight topped with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes! Stay tuned for another arugula recipe coming soon! (This post is already a wee bit long ;) ) *Update* Here it is! American Wedding Soup!
Does anyone have any other good uses for arugula for me? I really do have a lot! And if you live in the Toledo area, I’m happy to share!