Stressful isn’t a word I would have ever associated with gardening. When we got rid of our sons’ play set, I had a big space in the yard perfect for a garden and I was very excited about the prospect of growing our own food. I had so much fun setting it up, and planning what I would plant. The first year’s “harvest” was a complete joke, although in my defense, I did get a really late July start. The thought occurred to me that with the amount I had spent on this garden, I could have bought fruits and veggies from a farmer’s market for the next ten years.
The second year I began to get the hang of it. I got advice from seasoned gardeners and I was starting to think this was really going to work. A friend told me that I would need to cover my strawberries as they are a favorite of birds and squirrels. Heeding her advice, I bought a net to cover them, and the thought occurred to me that I could have bought 24 lbs of strawberries for the cost of the net.
The net did work, and I didn’t lose one strawberry, however I did have some visitors that tried in vain to get in. My netting had new holes weekly. And although the netting was an effective deterrent, it kind of deterred me as well. It was a pain to take on and off, and lowered the fun factor of picking my own strawberries.
I did more research and discovered that some people swear by putting rubber snakes in their strawberry patches. Others swear by metallic pinwheels. I really wanted to ditch the net, so I decided to give both a try. Lo and behold, they work! It’s necessary to move the snakes every couple of days otherwise birds and other critters will catch on to the ruse, but besides seeing big, ripe strawberries, it’s my favorite part of strawberry picking. I like to get creative with their placement.
Zucchini is a staple for most gardeners and who was I to disagree? Before having my own, I always loved the gifts of zucchini I’d received from my friends and neighbors over the years. Who doesn’t love a warm slice of zucchini bread? Being a novice and embarrassingly, having had never seen a zucchini plant, the first year I planted six seeds in my new basement growing area (I could have purchased fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market for another three years for the cost of this setup) and all of them thrived. I mentioned to a friend that I had six plants going and she said, “Have you ever seen a zucchini plant? They are monstrous.” I gave away two of my seedlings, thinking that four would be a perfect number. It wasn’t. Seedlings are so cute and little, but my friend was right; these cute, little things DO become monstrous and the four just became a big mess, choking each other off and not producing much of anything. I told you that first year was a complete joke.
Now in year three, I only planted two and was quite excited when my big, beautiful zucchini plants started producing. And producing. And then my excitement turned to concern, and then stress. Dang, these things are prolific! How was I going to keep up with them?! There’s only so much zucchini bread you can eat. Ahhh, I’ll give them to friends and neighbors who have given them to me over the years, I thought. But when I began asking if anyone wanted zucchini, I got the same answer over and over. “I can’t even keep up with my own!”
And here’s another thing I didn’t know about growing zucchini. They go from cute to obscene literally overnight. There have been many exclamations of “my god, look at the size of that thing!!!” To which, if any of my family is around, the reply is, “that’s what she said.” Holden and his roommate took one back to their dorm and left it as a gift on a friend’s doorstep. He said that zucchini made the rounds in the dorm for weeks until it began deteriorating. Add that as a new use for zucchini…a gag gift.
I bought a spiralizer, which was a game changer for a short while. While zoodles are easy and delicious, their possibilities are quickly exhausted: meat sauce, sausage in sauce, and shrimp in butter/garlic sauce. I did try a few casseroles, which were okay, but I needed something more. My zucchinis were multiplying like rabbits. In a burst of inspiration, I began using them in place of bread items, Sausage, peppers, and onions in a zucchini roll, thick crust zucchini pizza, soft zucchini shell tacos. We are unwittingly on a low carb diet, but I am limited only by my imagination.
I began calling these creations W.A.D.s or Weird Ass Dinners, but you know what, they don’t taste half bad! And most importantly, we are keeping up with these buggers. I have come to accept the fact that for the next two decades I will be in the red as far as my garden goes, but there’s really a sense of enjoyment and pride in eating food you’ve grown yourself. I do think next year I’ll only plant one zucchini though. Until then, long live Weird Ass Dinners.