The Older Brother takes a quick walk in the garden

Hi Fatheads.

One of the comments on my last post (from Pamela) had a YouTube link of a young student demonstrating the difference when trying to sprout sweet potatoes (the “regular” ones wouldn’t sprout, the store bought “Organic” ones generated some weak growth, while the locally sourced tubers did quite well), along with the note that “Of course, growing your own is best, but some of us don’t have that luxury.”

I pretty much agree with both parts of her statement. I give pretty wide interpretation to the “don’t have that luxury” part. I think there’s a tendency to think of that meaning not having a large enough plot or enough time to tend to a full garden. But I think not having the luxury can also mean that if you want a tomato or strawberries in November, you’re not going to find that in your garden or the local Farmers’ Market. I assume if you’re here, we tend to agree that eating seasonally is best, but sometimes you just want those strawberries.

I also think that having access to a decent Farmers’ Market is the same as having that luxury. If a local producer is raising the food without chemicals, GMO seed, or other weirdness, there’s no magic missing compared to a strawberry grown in my own back yard. Odds are, it’s going to be better and more diverse, because they’re doing it as a vocation.

Without going into a full out rant, I’m also not enamored of the “Organic” label. It encompasses a lot of bureaucracy, paperwork, and expense that don’t have any positive relationship to the quality of the certified products. I know there are a lot of wonderful people who’ve jumped through those hoops, but there are also a lot who produce great food who can’t or won’t. There’s a grassroots alternative called “Certified Naturally Grown” that’s independent of the sundry government agencies that tend to help Big Food take over these certifications. Enough about that.

Okay, back to that first proposition — growing your own. I’ve kept a few “Square Foot Garden” style beds in the back yard the last couple of years. In the Midwest this year, between the cool temperatures and plenty of rain, if you couldn’t grow a garden, it’s just not in the cards for you!

I thought I’d share a couple of pictures. I’ve never grown potatoes before, because you normally “hill” them. Some people grow them in containers, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. However, out at Linda’s, where we build the compost pile with thrown-out produce, we had a number of light wooden crates that had been filled with green beans. I snatched a few of those, put about a dozen seed potato pieces in the bottom of each one, then covered them with some of that compost. As the plants took off, I kept adding compost until the boxes were full. This is what they looked like after the plants died back…


Harvesting was simply a matter of dragging the box over to a spot in the yard I wanted to dump some compost, then turning the box over and “rooting” out the potatoes.


Those are from one of the boxes. Not a huge haul, but I was pretty encouraged since it was my first try.  Then they go in the basement to cure for a couple of weeks. The dirt stays on until they’re ready to cook. So, I assume do all of the probiotics!

I also had a great turnout with some Brussels Sprouts.

If you don’t think you like Brussels Sprouts, you’ve probably never had them roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Once some of the leaves start to turn a little black, that means the sugars are caramelizing.

My spaghetti squash turned out really good, too.  Yeah, that’s old nylons they’re hanging in.  No, not mine. Growing them vertically gives you a bigger harvest than letting them sprawl across the ground, and helps reduce access for the bugs. There’s still some peppers hiding out behind the squash.

Like I said, it was easy to grow veggies this year — even if you didn’t mean to. These cherry tomatoes “volunteered” and are growing right up in the middle of where my strawberries were earlier in the season.


It feels nice to see real food you’ve grown as Fall starts to ramp up. Having some success this year will inspire me this winter while I’m buying too many different kinds of veggies from the Seed Savers catalog.  That’s okay, we’ve got a really good Farmers’ Market, so people that know what they’re doing  can always bail me out, while I can still enjoy occasionally eating straight out of the garden.


The Older Brother


22 thoughts on “The Older Brother takes a quick walk in the garden

  1. Watsong

    I was wondering what your thoughts are about the “Insulin Index” and “Satiety Scoring”.

    According to the table, potatoes appear to be the most hunger satisfying food on Earth!

    Also, taking one protein example, the table shows that beef can apparently produce a higher insulin response than white pasta, porridge, and All-Bran. What are your views on this, given that it goes against what was taught about insulin response in the movie ‘Fat Head’?

    1. Tom Naughton

      [Tom replying here.] I’ll jump in on that one because I’ve answered it before. Meat raises insulin, and that’s good. Insulin is required to move amino acids into cells. If you want to build or maintain muscle, you’d better hope insulin is there and doing its job.

      What meat doesn’t do (unlike pasta, cereal, etc.) is spike blood sugar, so we don’t end up with the damage caused by repeated glucose spikes — e.g., the insulin resistance cells develop to protect themselves from a toxic glucose overload. Also, when we go on a low-carb diet, we don’t typically replace pasta ounce for ounce with meat. People can easily consume 400 carbs per day, but almost nobody can choke down 400 grams of protein per day. Instead, we restrict carbs and replace most of those calories with more calories from fat — which doesn’t spike insulin. So a lower-carb diet as adopted by most people is a lower-insulin diet as well.

      And now, back to my sort-of vacation. — TN

  2. rick

    Hey Older Brother, good post.

    I used to love (and actually still do) Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil. But then had them deep fried in pork fat. Wow!

  3. Linda

    Hi again Older Brother,

    I had to look closely at a couple of your pictures to make sure you hadn’t sneaked into my brother’s garden. He does what he calls his movable compost heaps in a simply huge garden. All year long, as he drives around here and there and spots bags of leaves people have raked and put out for the trash, he stops and picks them up. So, he not only composts all kitchen waste, but he uses leaves (mostly oak) and grass clippings on top of the kitchen compost. This is done in piles here and there in his garden which is simply huge. He has systematically been building the soil in this garden for about six years, all with compost.

    The thing in your pictures that reminded me so much of my brother’s operation was the volunteer tomatoes. Everywhere in my brother’s garden you will find a volunteer of one sort or another, because he doesn’t use pesticides. If he finds a critter on something he does away with the critter by hand and tosses the ruined veggie onto the nearest compost pile. Voila! Volunteers! It’s great fun to see what we’ll be picking off compost piles next!

    1. The Older Brother Post author

      I just don’t think food gets any more “real” than that, plus that’s “real” recycling to boot.

      The idea that we send massive trucks around our suburban neighborhoods to pick up “yard waste,” then trundle off to a huge “recycling center,” to compost it and then haul it back is just a politically correct form of insanity.

      If your brother sold some of his goods to a neighbor, and inadvertently called them “organic,” he’d be a felon; meanwhile, people flock to buy organic food that’s been shipped thousands of miles that may have been treated with pesticides. Again, I’m not against Organic per se, or some of the truly dedicated people who participate in the program. I am against people thinking that “buying Organic” is automatically a more nutritious, responsible choice.


  4. robert

    Very commendable, growing your own food. But the choice of plants…

    You do know that you’re breeding a weapon of mass-taste-bud-destruction right in your garden: Brussels sprouts. The olfactory horror of these is only dwarfed by Cilantro (coriander greens). It must be a big conspiracy: first destroy people’s taste-buds with these vile plants and then you can sell them absolutely anything.

    Death to Cilantro!

    1. The Older Brother Post author

      I wasn’t a big fan of Brussels sprouts until we tried roasting them. Once most of the outer leaves have started to blacken, they really lose the bitterness.

      I’m totally with you on the Cilantro, though. I don’t know why we’re worrying about the whole ISIS thing when that stuff IS ALREADY OVER HERE!


      1. The Older Brother Post author

        Not generally a huge salsa fan, but I can tolerate cilantro in it. I think The Oldest Kid (mother of the grandkids) puts it in her guacamole, and that’s killer good.

        The Older Brother

  5. Linda

    I have to chime in again- re: Brussels sprouts. My brother and I call our father “George” (as in George Bush) because he won’t eat broccoli or Brussels sprouts. I should say wouldn’t on the Brussels sprouts- until I chopped up thick cut bacon and sauteed them in bacon and bacon fat till they got a little brown on the outside leaves. Now I cook extra, because he eats so much! People who don’t like them just aren’t cooking them correctly!

    1. Jim Butler

      As an addition to that, when you take them off the heat, toss some crumbled blue cheese or gorganzola on top and toss lightly as it melts 🙂

  6. Chris Buck

    Roasted is the only way I eat Brussels Sprouts. I prefer to cook them on a charcoal grill in small cast iron serving pans, with olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper. Small one are best.

  7. Pingback: We Accidentally Grew Some Food! | UnMedicate

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