I have a deliciously crunchy, creamy, refreshing Cool Cucumber Couscous recipe coming up, with Feta cheese, lemon juice, and herbs. But first, I need to tell you why my garden is a glutton for punishment. Stay with me.
I approached gardening this year as I would a date in which I had no interest. I knew I should get out there, but also that I really didn’t feel like changing out of my sweatpants.
If this were a date, it’d be like I was forced out the door by a friend with my hair still in a ponytail and wearing an unwashed pair of jeans. I’d then proceed to drown myself in a bottle of wine and complain to the poor guy about my ex-boyfriend the entire time. What a jerk I’d be to my garden this year, I just knew it.
But you can’t blame me! Sure this is my fourth year gardening, but it’s my first year gardening while tending to a tiny human. This meant I wouldn’t have nearly a quarter of the time and energy to have it be productive by any means.
Or so I thought.
While it’s true that I have even less time to garden, I discovered that – wouldyoufreakingbelieveit – my garden sort of thrives on neglect. To my surprise, this is the most productive year my garden has had ever – EVER! I’m still scratching my head. I can literally count on one hand the amount of times I actually dragged the hose up there to water it. What the what?!
So all these years I’ve been an overbearing, over-watering garden gnome when all it really wanted was to be left alone? Apparently, yep. And it was my lesson that sometimes things work out for the best when you just let them be. If we’re still using the poor blind date analogy, it’d be like the guy was sort of charmed by my antics. Or maybe just felt sorry for me and thought he’d do me a solid by sticking it out through dessert. Either way, LOOK!
I mean, look at those healthy squash plants! The stems are so sturdy, large and thick that they remind me of those “crazy straws” and I just want to drink out of them. These photos are from a few weeks ago, and since then I had to pull just about all of the zucchini plants because I still got hit with those nasty vine borers, but I actually was still collecting zucchini from them just a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never had zucchini in August!
While this is still baffling, there were two factors I did different this year: 1) I got out there and sprayed my DIY organic pesticide whenever I could, and 2) I purchased my transplants from a local organic farm this year – Windcrest Farm – vs. getting them from Lowe’s. WHAT. A. DIFFERENCE.
I’m also still getting lots of tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers…
…which is what led me to the Cucumber Couscous Recipe (below).
And then there’s the “ladybug habitat”. I took the almighty Martha’s advice and created a ladybug habitat, which was said to be the perfect house for ladybugs. Why would I do this, you ask? Because I think they’re pretty? I do, but that’s not why. Martha tells me they prey on aphids, which are those nasty little insects that ravage all your plants. So the equation goes: ladybugs eat aphids, so aphids don’t eat plants, and you get to eat your fruits and veggies.
But what she failed to tell me, was how to actually invite the ladybugs to move in once you build them their dream home. Do you hold an open house? Decorate, put up signs, hoping that maybe on the way back from their morning latte they catch wind of it and come visit on a whim? Do you treat them like hit men, meeting them in a dark alley to “assign” them the job of “whacking” the aphids? Do you just plead desperately while putting out a ‘vacancy’ sign? I am sure they can see me coming at night.
LADYBUG 1: Be cool, man; here she comes.
LADYBUG 2: Crap. Don’t make any eye contact. She’s gonna invite us over.
LADYBUG 1: Is that – yep, that’s a BIG glass of wine tonight. Drinking already. Must’ve had a rough day.
LADYBUG 2: Shit. Hide behind this leaf. Maybe she didn’t see us.
Maybe they felt sorry for me (or maybe I just picked the right pattern for the drapes), but whatever I did WORKED, because – lo and behold – I spotted 3 lady bugs within the past 2 days, and guess what? NO MORE APHIDS!
Back to the cucumbers. The amount my plants have produced this year inspired this cool cucumber couscous recipe. I am a huge fan of couscous because it takes, like, 10 minutes to make, and everything else in this recipe is no-cook, so there you go. You’re welcome.
Cool Cucumber Couscous with Lemon and Feta
- 1 ¼ cup plain couscous (preferably organic)
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 1 medium-sized cucumber
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2/3 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. While the water is boiling, roughly chop your cucumber and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, ground pepper, and crumbled feta. When the water has reached a boil, add the couscous, remove from heat right away, and cover. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then remove the cover, and fluff with a fork.
Once couscous has cooled slightly, add to bowl, and mix until everything is combined.
Bonus meal for babies (10+ month): omit the salt (or simply add it after removing baby’s portion), and grate the cucumber instead of chopping. Pull baby’s highchair up to the table and enjoy a family meal!