Kunta Kenta’s Garden Surprise

by Kitchen Ladies

KG 7

Getting fresh vegetables “South of the Border” is a constant challenge – the locals in our tiny fishing village of La Ventana consider a can of corn and a head of iceberg sufficient to fulfilling nutritional needs. Being Ex Pats – used to endless supermarket aisles packed-full of luscious fruits and vegetables – we craved more, so Kent’s “back beach garden” was born.

Since there is no Mexican mail order or  “that quick trip to Whole Foods,” the seeds needed to be thought out well in advance. Fortunately we had some friends in California willing to mule some down in their already overpacked truck. Once we had our hands on those coveted seeds we employed the local handyman, Santiago, to help with soil knowledge and construction. Many people thought we were building a guest casita, but it turned out to be just some mini walls to tame the hurricane like winds, and discourage the roaming cattle, when we forget to close the gate.

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Attila, the Rag Doll kitty keeping watch incognito in the garden

Due to our super busy schedule of surfing, fishing and kiting, we thought that it would be a good idea to let Santiago do the planting as well. Santiago, who doesn’t speak a lick of English, took our manila envelope filled with an array of seeds from Burpee and began planting.

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A few weeks later we peeked into our little garden and were pleasantly surprised with the blooming process. There were green, leafy heads bobbing in tidy rows everywhere. The only problem was that we didn’t know what they were, since we ignored the cardinal rule of labeling. We figured that with more maturity, the identity of our bounty would be revealed.

After a few more weeks, we could, with confidence, greet our butter lettuce, chives, tomatoes, and broccoli, but one plant had us stumped. Instead of our favorite arugula, we had this monster leaf with red stalks taking over a large plot in our dainty garden. Being mostly salad eaters, we tasted the leaves and weren’t entirely stoked with their rough texture.

It took a visit to Google and a neighbor’s house to find out what we had cultivated.  Now instead of lamenting our lack of arugula, we are giving thanks to our surprise guest – the mighty Red Stem Chard. We don’t know where it came from, since we never bought Chard seeds, but we are now happy to be acquainted. It has opened our minds and mouths to many new, healthy, Chard-inspired recipes. A most yummy surprise indeed!

~ Cynbad (sister, aunt and guest blogger)

kunta Collage

When Kent is not in his garden, you can find him fishing on his SUP board in the morning and kiteboarding in the afternoon.