Diabetes Diet: Growing Organic Vegetables & What to Avoid in Gardening
Vegetables are going to be expensive this summer. And because vegetables, especially above-ground vegetables like greens, broccoli, and cauliflower, are the mainstay of a healthy diabetic diet, everyone who is able should have a vegetable garden this summer.
I've just finished cutting back the old canes on my raspberry bushes (and have a couple of jagged scratches across my face where a belligerent raspberry cane attacked me without provocation), and now I'm planning my vegetable garden.
Hmm. What should I plant this year?
Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I loved succotash. I always wanted to plant some, but I could never find any succotash seeds. Whenever I asked at the garden store, the clerks would roll on the floor laughing.
I assumed that was because succotash seeds were so popular they sold out on the first day of spring, so I kept coming in earlier every year, but I was never able to find any.
One year, after the clerk picked himself off the floor and got his breath back, he asked if I liked tofu. I said yes. So he suggested that I plant tofu plants instead of the succotash. I asked if that was difficult.
He said the tofu plants grow quite strong, as they have to in order to hold up the heavy white squares of tofu. But then he warned me about the tofu shucker I'd have to buy to harvest the crop.
"What's that?" I asked.
Gasping for breath, the man explained that the tofu grows with a heavy husk to protect the delicate white tofu. It's as tough as coconut, and in order to get it off you have to buy a tofu shucker. He said the store was all out of them at the moment, but if I'd leave a $500 deposit (cash), he'd order one for me.
It seemed like a lot of work, so I decided not to grow tofu that year, and I left the store, wondering why the other clerks were all shrieking, "Tofu shucker!" and gasping for breath.
Another treat I enjoy now that I have diabetes is sugarfree bread-and-butter pickles. Now, I'm no dope, and I know pickles don't grow on trees. I think they grow on bushes. I've found pickling cucumber seeds, but I still can't seem to find the sugarfree pickling cucumber kind. Why do I have such a problem finding seeds?
Sometimes I don't know why I bother to plant a garden anyway. I always have visions of bushel baskets filled with healthy produce, but then can't find the seeds I want, and the only thing I'm really good at growing is weeds.
One year I planted leeks, and as I was weeding what looked like grass out of the leek bed, I wondered why all the grass was growing in such a straight line. Later, someone told me that leeks look like grass when they come up. Oops.
Another time I thought I was being terribly clever when I planted my snow peas at the edge of the garden, right next to the fence that keeps the sheep and goats out, so the snow pea plants would climb up the fence. They did. But I never got any snow peas and wondered why, until one day I noticed the sheep eating all the snow peas that were so conveniently growing up the fence. Oops.
I spent a lot on strawberry plants, and after three years, my total harvest was half of an unripe berry. The chipmunks always got there first.
One year I bought a lot of sample seed packets for Asian greens. The sample sizes are cheap, and it's difficult to control oneself. I planted aromatic mitsuba, red shiso, green shiso, tong ho, red orach, and hon tsai tsai. I also planted sesame, epazote, fenugreek, psyllium, and safflower. I decided to skip the woad, jojoba, osha, and pimpernel, at least for that year.
Miracle of miracles, all the greens I planted came up. And grew. There was just one problem: What do you do with red shiso and hon tsai tsai? I know you can use sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, and safflower oil. But how about the leaves? What do you do with them?
Anyone have a recipe for sautéed tong ho with epazote sauce? I sure didn't, so most of those greens ended up as gourmet treats for slugs.
Maybe I should just give up and follow the suggestion of a man in the audience at a meeting on Preserving Farmland. "I don't know why everyone is so concerned about preserving farmland," he said. "I can get all the food I want at the grocery store."