After 25 years of growing vegetables, this spring saw the introduction of raised beds to the garden.  A Friday night trip to the store for the lumber (which they conveniently cut into 6 & 3 foot lengths) and then a beautiful Saturday morning was spent constructing four beds. We made sure to screw  4”x 4” blocks in the corners to stabilize the structures and stapled screening to the outside of the bottoms.

Screen stapled to bottom of bed.

Screen stapled to bottom of bed.

Once the beds were in place in the garden they were filled with compost .

Newly filled beds.

Newly filled beds.

Then the fun began. I planted the cool-weather crops of arugula, spinach, bok choy, beets, lettuces, carrots, parsnips, shallots, kale, and radishes in the beds. Peas were planted along the fence, established rhubarb, strawberries, scallions, chives and asparagus are along the sides. Within weeks the new plants had emerged and were growing well although there were many nights where the temperature dropped enough to require row covers. By the middle of May we were consuming fresh arugula, spinach, lettuce and kale. The bok choy, peas, rhubarb, and strawberries soon followed.

The first spring crops.

The first spring crops.

These items lend an amazing freshness to any meal, so welcome after the long winter. I try to incorporate freshly picked items into each dinner. The spinach is added to a salad or cooked in an omelet, the bok choy can be sauteed with shrimp, the strawberries and rhubarb are baked into a crumble. Fresh arugula with its peppery bite makes an awesome bed for freshly grilled fish topped with mango salsa. Kale is delicious cooked into a soup with cannellini beans.

Shallots, beets and kale.

Shallots, beets and kale.

Bok Choy & Shrimp

12 stalks of bok choy (with leaves)

1 lb. of fresh or frozen (defrosted) shrimp

1 Cup of vegetable or chicken broth

2 Tbs. of soy or fish sauce

1 Tbs. of cornstarch

2 scallions, chopped fine

2 Cups of cooked rice

Roughly chop the bok choy leaves and set them aside. Chop the bok choy into 1” pieces. Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp. Spray a sauté pan with a vegetable spray and heat over a medium high flame. Add the pieces of bok choy and the shrimp, stirring to cook. Add some broth if the pan becomes dry. When the shrimp are pink and the bok choy has softened add the chopped leaves and cook quickly to wilt them. Do not overcook this. Combine the remainder of the broth with the soy sauce and the cornstarch. Pour this into the pan, stirring until the sauce thickens. Toss in the scallions and serve over rice.  3-4 servings.

Strawberries and lettuce.

Strawberries and lettuce.

Blog and photos by S. Pelton