Surprise Pumpkins?!

If you follow our Instagram @dexterfarm2school, you probably heard that we have surprise squash (which we think now are pumpkins!) in the Three Sisters Garden. The pumpkins overwintered from the previous year and just sprung back up in the growing season unexpectedly. We are keeping an eye out for the squash bugs and are continuing to manage and mitigate them.

The Three Sisters Garden, which was constructed by one of the high school students as part of their IB project, housed squashes, beans and corn. The Three Sisters Garden was named after the Native American farming practice of growing these three crops together as they work harmoniously to support each other in the growing season. The corn stalks provide a way for the beans to climb, the beans fix nitrogen from the air into the soil to nutritionally support the corn and squash, and the squash provide ground cover to prevent weeds. A great example of companion planting! This agricultural technique has been practiced for centuries and throughout many Native American tribes including the Iroquois and Hopis. In addition, beans, squash and corn also complement each other in our own body’s nutritional needs – corn providing carbohydrates, beans providing protein and squash with vitamins and good oils from its seeds.

In the Kitchen-Garden Flex class, students learn about the history of the “Three Sisters” and Native American farming practices. We just love how the gardens can be a place of cross-curricular learning!

In other garden news, the pollinator raised concrete beds are completed and filled. Next up is to complete clearing out the old wooden beds for the new outdoor classroom space. The zinnias are still in bloom and are beautiful to look at if you ever are walking by! With these crazy torrential rains and humidity, our tomatoes were stricken with blight but fortunately the fruits are unaffected.

Weekly Recipe
“Magic Broccoli” adapted from Evan and Katelyn’s Youtube Channel

Okay, so you might be thinking, “Did she really just give me a recipe on how to stir fry broccoli?” Yes but hear me out!

I have to admit that was not a “vegetable person” prior to meeting my vegetarian boyfriend, my typical diet consisted of meat and carbs. I associated eating vegetables with just salads. I’m sure many of you can relate. In cooking more vegetarian meals, I had to find creative ways to incorporate vegetables into our home cooked meals so that I can trick myself into eating them (and actually enjoy it!).

Among those vegetables that I disliked was broccoli. As a kid, I grew up with steamed broccoli, which was fine but not something I necessarily enjoyed. Then here comes Evan and Katelyn’s video on “Magic Broccoli”. I was skeptical but their enthusiasm for their broccoli was contagious. I tried it and now love broccoli especially as a generous topping over pasta. It may seem simple but that’s the beauty of it!

Ingredients (serves 4, 10 minutes)

2 heads of broccoli
1-2 tablespoons of minced garlic
pinch of salt (I don’t use much personally)
tsp of olive oil
chili flakes (optional for non-spicy families)

1. Rinse the broccoli and cut them up into tiny florets (I really mean tiny and bite-sized). This increases the surface area so that you get a nice crispy bite.
2. Heat up olive oil or vegetable oil on medium high heat in a large frying pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan or else you will accidentally steam it. Feel free to split it into two batches.
3. Add broccoli and salt, stir occasionally until it starts turning crispy
4. Add minced garlic towards the end of the cooking process as you don’t want this to burn. Add chili flakes to your taste.
5. Serve!

Here’s the YouTube video for those of you who are curious (and it’s family friendly!) I cook it a little differently but really follows the same idea.


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