Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Give to Caesar What Is His!!!

Back in February I did a piece on my “square foot garden” project click here. My back yard is not large, in fact, it’s rather small. My goal is to create an oasis, a garden-spot inspired by the beautiful gardens in downtown Charleston. I want a show-place to entertain and relax in, a work in progress. I plan to maximize the limited space, and part of my back yard garden will always be dedicated to my version of the “kitchen garden.” I have never pushed the envelope on maximizing my vegetable yield per square foot before, but I am doing that this year. My plan is simple, Square foot gardening.
When I prepared the two beds I created a plan that established 1 foot by 1 foot squares on a grid. Within those 1 foot squares I would plant the vegetables and herbs that I hoped would allow me to experience a bountiful harvest of tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, onions, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, beans, squash and cucumbers, as well as herbs. Thanks to an earlier than usual onset of Spring weather in The Land of Palm Trees, I was able to get an early start on some of my “warm season” veggies, and I am happy to report that I already have tomatoes setting on the vines (no I did not buy plants with tomatoes already on the vine either.) I am still several weeks away from ripe tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but I have been harvesting a heaping helping of Romaine lettuce. Over the past week we have enjoyed several salads made with lettuce from our garden, and the fresh taste is WONDERFUL. This evening I put together a Caesar Salad just using some romaine, cherry tomatoes sliced in half and dressing. No anchovies in my Caesar though.
Being the “fledgling” historian that I am, I couldn’t help but find some logic in the fact that I was enjoying a salad bearing the name of “Caesar” from Romaine lettuce grown in a square foot garden. After all Julius Caesar’s reformist policies in Ancient Rome are credited with awarding lands to his soldiers and giving the common plebeians the chance to own their own lands thereby providing many the means to feed themselves, which helped to ease the problems of unemployment and poverty among the people. The only flaw in my logic is that, well it is flawed. Why, you may wonder? Well, it sounds good but unfortunately the “Caesar” in “Caesar Salad” is not Julius, but is instead the salad’s creator, restaurateur Caesar Cardini an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico and the United States. At any rate, my salad tonight was good, even though as far as Caesar Salads go, it was fairly simple and plain. There are a lot of various ingredients that can be used to “dress” a Caesar, like chicken, shrimp or bacon to name some of my favorites but by design, the star of tonight’s show was the Romaine harvested from my square foot garden just minutes before being plated as a side salad for dinner. If you haven’t attempted square foot gardening, what are you waiting for? It’s not too late, and you can do it, trust me. Hopefully soon there will be other fresh ingredients being hauled into our kitchen from the back yard, and you can bet that I will keep you posted.

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