gabriola garden

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Yams, Yarrow, and Paprika

Stumbled across a blog by a South Carolina lady, and she had a story about yams. Ironically, I was peeling a large bowlful of yams at the time for supper, so it all became even more interesting. It seems that a visionary chemist went down to Mexico and discovered that you can extract a substance from yams that can then be transformed into birth control pills! How is that for nature’s bounty?

While Sara tends her flowers and our faithful dog, Max, looks on, I fiddle around with my vegetables. They are nothing to speak of yet, but I went into my picture archives from previous years and found a few veggie shots you might enjoy. Our prize-winning zucchini earned its ribbon by being the fastest vegetable on wheels at the local fair!

For our green beans, we usually build a bamboo frame to run on, and I found this great shot from two years ago. It usually doesn’t fill up like that until August. We’re just putting the string in between the bamboo poles for the plants to climb onto.

Our tomatoes are slow in ripening, but once they do, they are certifiably succulent and a hit with every salad. I couldn’t find a picture of the yams, but they’re not ready to be dug up until fall. Ditto the potatoes. My wife makes a killer yam casserole (which is what we’re having tonight, with store-bought yams). She lays a layer of yam slices, a layer of peeled and sliced golden delicious apples, sprinkles parmesan cheese over the layers, and drowns the whole dish in melted butter. Season to taste.

My ancestors came from Hungary, so I grew up eating food seasoned with liberal amounts of paprika. Turns out the Magyars didn’t invent paprika, which is a red powder made from ground sweet or hot chile peppers. Capsicum annuum actually originated in Mexico 2,000 years ago and Columbus brought the pepper seeds to Europe. The Magyars, knowing a good thing when they taste it, made it their own. Every October there is a Paprika Festival in the Hungarian town of Kalocsa in the south of that middle European country.

I grow hot Hungarian peppers, and also sweet yellow peppers. If the peppers are green and you leave them on the vine in the sun, they’ll turn red. I also grow some red varieties. We cook with them and Sara turns the remainder into tangy pepper jelly, great with sandwiches.

My vegetables, just like Sara’s flowers, benefit greatly from the 100% organic nutrients provided by Advanced Nutrients. I also spray with inoculants, such as Scorpion Juice, in order to ward off pathogens. Sara’s roses perked up immediately after being treated with this wonderful solution.

Another plant that grows in our garden is yarrow. Native to British Columbia, this perennial aromatic herb has been used as medicine by the native peoples of the Pacific coast since time immemorial. The Haida used it as a poultice, the Tsimshian as a sore throat gargle. Other uses for the yarrow were as a childbirth medicine, a bronchitis medication, a cure for colds and measles, to get rid of headaches and to purify the blood.

Before your skeptical side scoffs at all this, just remember that aspirin came from the bark of a tree and that the lowly yam gave us the birth control pill. We have much to learn from our native brethren.

I notice that whenever our dog Max is having stomach problems, he chews on certain grasses on our daily walk. Yet when I try to feed him lettuce, he leaves it in his bowl. Animals know instinctively what’s good for them. Somewhere along the line the human species has forgotten these truths.

Our organically grown vegetables will not only keep us healthy but they’ll help us lose weight this summer. And who among us wouldn’t be better off my shedding a few pounds?

posted by Tim at 3:50 PM


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