The New Victory Garden

Over at Immaculate Direction, Cubeland Mystic recasts the Victory Garden as a means for overcoming “typical Catholic despair”:

“…in the temperate southern states across the US, most folks can plant a cold hardy winter garden starting in mid-September. In the big scheme of things it won’t make a big difference to oil prices, but what it lacks in material value it might make up in symbolic and spiritual value.

Here is a suggestion to consider. Depending on the climate, a winter garden could survive until spring. If done correctly a small plot could yield enough produce to make a nice vegetable soup. Carrots, onions, celery, swiss chard, spinach, broth, and a handful of pasta or beans. Sounds like a simple Lenten meal to me. Perhaps for Lent next spring give up processed food. Replace it with food you grow. I leave it up to you if you think this saves oil or serves as a Lenten sacrifice. But I think it is worth considering. If enough of us do it, it would make a difference.”

Plus, it tastes amazing. We planted a half a dozen different heirloom tomatoes this year – things you don’t find in supermarkets. Amazing, amazing flavors. Russian Black – yum. And gorgeous to behold. Second Son composted the soil, cleared it of weeds, helped in the planting. Watered and weeded. And picked. An excellent project, one which gave satisfaction to him and brought delight to the family.

Across the country, potatoes, dug from the ground at Red Rose Farm, tasted like no potatoes I’ve ever eaten. There was simply more to taste.


  1. Matthew,

    Having the summer to summer out a sumptious summer garden: I have to tell you – it doesn’t get any better than kale. (I think its a good wintergarten plant too, but better check – I’m not sure.)

    Yes, it’s that stuff most supermarkets backlight their fresh meat, poultry and fish with in the display cases – but a challenge: grow some kale (hardier than you might think – we have three varieties in our Walmart sized garden up here in Middle Earth), harvest it a little at a time (a little less than a full Hefty bag full), cut it into manageable chunks, fry it up with garlic, onions and butter (I use butter that is homemade, but that adds nothing but a bitter to bitter ratio – kinda like German chocolate to a really puckering Cabernet). Make sure its sliced really thin – there’s a piquant paradox in it’s thinness: the more narrow the cut, the more the leaf declaims on the tongue and along the nerve coils of the throat… The thing is, kale has the absolute BEST texture/taste payoff that I’ve ever experienced in a green. Besides all that, it’s industrial strength as a roughage…

    But, as if that wasn’t enough, here’s what I find most amazing about it: take your best meat – a good hunkalovin’ steak, for instance, and throw a squat of kale beside it: it not only stands up to the steak, but even threatens to steal the show (The only thing that saves the steak from blushing embarrasment beyond its proper rareness, finally, is, given the grillmaster, the reminder that this IS steak, after all (Please disperse. There’s nothing to see here! Please digest! Pay no attention to what that green is doing at the far corner of your plate! Please digest!))

    Roughing it deliciously,


  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    I have to go work in my yard, but I will be back. Kale is very cold hardy. Job, see if you can get a row to germinate now, I suspect yours will survive till the first sustained hard frosts, and perhaps beyond. If you are interested let it go all winter and see if the roots come back in the spring.

    I think Kale is considered a superfood. It grows all winter in the southwest.

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    “Work in my yard”? How dare you? Back to your cubicle, Mystic!
    Your Orc Overlords

  4. Cubeland Mystic says

    Kale is a super food. It would do just fine in San Diego in the winter.

    We grew it last year, it is a hardy plant. The stems can get a little fibrous. My home is heavily influenced by the Italian culture. Let me share a recipe of that tradition that is cheap for a family of seven, and to get the greens into the kids. In this case since we are exalting kale, use kale.

    Pick several fresh kale leaves, you want about four cups of boiled kale when done. Wash them and remove the tough fibrous stems. Add the leaves into boiling water, perhaps four minutes. Kale is tough. When done run it under cold water. When cool enough to handle run a knife through it for a very course chop. You should have about four cups. Take four big russets or your favorite potato, add to a large pot cover with a couple inches of water. Bring the water to a boil with the potatoes in the pot. When fork tender they are done let them cool. While that is cooling slice thirty or forty large garlic cloves. If you are a garlic weenie, perhaps try one clove per cup of kale. Sauté the garlic in extra virgin olive oil, and add the cooked well drained kale to the oil. Peel the boiled potatoes and cut into largish chunks Fold the kale garlic mixture into the potatoes. Add sale and pepe. Fold not stir! That’s it. Most Italian steel workers would have had something like this in their lunch pales back in the old days. Sometime you can purchase those 10lbs for a dollar potatoes, the kale was grown in the garden, assume that the olive oil was about 50 cents a tablespoon, and I grow my own garlic. You run the numbers.

    Do you know what broccoli raab is? You can make some good money supplying your local Italian community with rapini.

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