Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Lizard Garden Guardians

Ivey House restaurant recipe oven baked pork chop, cream gravy (good, but I don't really go for cream gravies), a rice pilaf, and home grown baby collards and kale sauteed in the wok with olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper.

This is a tale of how we got to that delicious plate.

Well, in truth, this story is only the collard and kale chapter ...

In the warmer months, I use the BGS ( Bubbaponic Growing System) for my beloved datil peppers.

The "ponic" portion of Bubbaponic refers to the fact that these plants are fed with water from the livestock tank which supports the 4 year old turtles I hatched, plus some gambusia minnows.

That is the only water and fertilizer I apply ... and of course, there are no pesticides in the PFHQ garden.

The "bubba" part of Bubbaponics comes from the fact that it is I, FC, who dips out each pot's ration from the turtle/fish tank using an old pot.

Real hydroponics involves electric power, tubing, pumps, moving bits and pieces, emitters, expensive growing media, and lots of whirring noises.

In the winter, rather than let the BGS sit idle, I grow cool weather crops, like lettuce and collards.

Collards are easy in the south, but growing lettuce in Florida is tricky.

Lettuce does not like hot weather, so you plant in the winter.
Then you hope and pray that no heat wave will park over you and cause the lettuce to bolt and produce that hideously bitter white sap.


This year, I bought a six pack of baby collard plants at the nursery to save time.
The collards were put in the buckets first as tiny starts.

A few weeks later, I scratched some leaf lettuce seeds into the pots around the young collards.

It seems to be working pretty well. The collards shade the lettuce some and help to keep them cool.
The lettuce is sweet and tasty.
The turtles and I both think so.

Sunday, I harvested a big collander of baby kale and collard leaves from the BGS, gave them a quick chop, and then sauteed them in olive oil. They were seasoned with nothing but kosher salt and black pepper and they were excellent.

No bacon, no hamhock, no cooking for hour ... just ten minutes of wok and rolling.

Here is Anatoly Anole, Guardian Of Free Collardia.

He's a suave, debonair lizard who has mastered the nonchalant, "cool guy" look.

(Something that I never mastered)

Not for a lack of trying, mind you.

Below is a video conference with Anatoly and a preview of this season's blueberry crop.
It looks like another bumper blueberry bonanazapazoola this year.


If you get a chance, check out this post by my friend Julie Zickefoose.

It's about a really strange Florida critter ... who is totally honored to be her friend.


Caroline said...

OK, and here I thought from your post title were growing and harvesting lizards.
Anatoly is a handsome creature.

lisa said...

Ok, I am now officially ready to start planning the garden! Loved the lizard!

Dani said...

Veggies ROCK!

Barbie said...

Look at you - Gettin' around now! Nice lizard. They sure are out in force early this year.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Oh, so you *did* see it, but you're just bein' all Skunk Ape about it. That's cool. :)

Lettuce. Fresh collards. What are those?

Anatoly is one cool customer. And how lovely to see blueberry blossoms and tiny leaves! We have crocuses and some daffodils gettin' ready to bust, and everything is singing like mad!

Floridacracker said...

I like to free range my lizard herd.

Get to the seed catalogs!

Yes, they do! Especially when accompanying a nice steak.

I like to provide lots of branch piles and other hiding spots for them in the garden.

Saw it about 25 times actually.

SophieMae said...

Spring has sprung... indeed!
Saturday night, we retired to the much-too-long-lasting brown dreariness by which we've been surrounded. Sunday morning, the hog plums had burst forth! The Great Awakening! At long last! Redbuds are popping out, as well, so it won't be long till the dogwoods reach their gloriacious beautiocity! It's aliiiiiive!!!

The Florida Blogger said...

Man, are you getting healthy on us? No bacon?

Floridacracker said...

My dogwoods popped today, redbuds in town are glorious.
Of course the Carolina Jessamine got them all going.

Still love it that way, but trying to balance things out.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

I saw a skink the other day and was shocked how fearless it was to climb on us (and all around us) without really being bothered otherwise. Most other lizards seem to dart away when you give the least motion of trying to catch them.

amarkonmywall said...

Cathy and I have agreed that we would like to remind you that we knew you first, that we are legal residents of Florida, that we have too much dignity to be FC groupies and that a couple of your pigs DID have names. If Julie is at New River birding then I will meet her there and regale her with stories about the wonders of my children.

Nice greens.

Floridacracker said...

Wow, that was a good lizard encounter!

LOL! Well, Julie may have missed some of the earlier pigs who were named by the kids, but I think that last one was just Pig.
And she does have a very spot on point about the blogosphere rallying to save critters who get named.
I remember SOMEONE wanting to raise money to SAVE THE PIG every year around fair time.

Surely, YOU remember that?


Carpet Cleaning Winter Haven said...

You might want to be careful about using certain animals' 'by-products' as fertilizer. I remember hearing that you should never use dog or cat 'by-products' as fertilizer for anything you want to eat.

amarkonmywall said...

Touche. I've just sent you a bit of lab humor.

Floridacracker said...

You are right. I stop that practice a week before harvest.

I got it and it was cute!

Octohawk said...

Love this post! And I love quickly sauteed greens as opposed to "boiled in the pot with a hamhock until they are brown and gooey" ones. My collards are doing terribly this year, but I think it was my choice of pot. I had much better luck with the chard.. until the chickens found it.