I’ve been working on our patio for a few months now trying to make it more functional and enjoyable. It’s a narrow area that wraps along two sides of our house and much different than the half-acre of hillside we tended at our former house. At first, the idea of having so much less to manage outside was attractive because we were busy with our jobs and moving closer to the ocean and a beautiful seaside community that would inspire us to get out more and enjoy weekends full of sun and fun. But I’m a gardener — I always have been. And as much as the weather is often quite gorgeous here, I’m content to spend time outside digging in the dirt. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been very easy for the past few years.
A former owner had planters installed on the patio and made less than smart choices about what was planted in them, so now, several are completely root bound. Old flagstone capping has loosened from the planter walls, much of it cracked or broken completely. The fence, although beloved by my cats for its great scratching post qualities, was more a termite high rise. Tearing it down took little thought.
I’ve always kept pots of annuals and herbs, and for the first time two years ago, began growing tomatoes in pots. About a year ago, I put together a small herb box as well. This year, one of the tomato pots has become a salad greens pot. It may not seem like much, but I can tell you the snails would be quite upset if I ever got rid of the little herb box. And this year, they’ve truly enjoyed picking out all but one variety of salad green from the new pot. Who knew snails had such discriminating palates — erm — radula?
Even though my patio is small by suburban yard standards here, I could squeeze the few things I enjoy harvesting in an even smaller space such as a balcony if I had to. In other words, it doesn’t take much to grow a few of your own veggies and or herbs. I’d enjoy planting even more among the roses and succulents I’m currently planting in the newly filled, capped, and painted planters, but until those plants are established, adding anything edible to them isn’t advisable and may never be. Hence, the pots I have are a great idea because I can move them around according to the seasons and sunlight.
My tomato plants are sporting grape-sized fruit, but the idea frying tiny green tomatoes isn’t as appealing to me as plucking some of the salad greens, a few leaves of the perennial bloody sorrel that continues to thrive, some wild arugula, and purple basil.
Perfect for a wrap with a bit of left over chicken and, if the patio was finished, a nice lunch outside with a good book. All in due time.
Are you a gardener? Do you have an outside space to relax in when the weather is pleasant?
Chicken Wrap with Spicy Greens
wraps or flour tortillas
2-3 oz. chicken per wrap, cooked
smashed green olives
red onions, thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
fresh lemon juice
honey mustard Dijon
salt and pepper to taste
Spread the mustard over the wrap. Toss the greens in a bit of olive oil and squirt of fresh lemon juice. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Place a good hand full of the greens on the wrap and top with the remaining ingredients. Tightly roll and split to share or save half for later. It’s filling!
- I mixed a couple of packages of salad greens seeds to sprinkle in the pot and they sprouted and began to grow pretty quickly. It didn’t take long to realize the snails had left only one kind of green which I thought was Green Leaf Lettuce. Boy was I wrong. It was arugula — which I love — but it was incredibly spicy. Far more spicy than the wild arugula (which is much smaller with thin leaves and grows like a perennial). Definitely an unexpectedly spicy, but yummy wrap!
- I like wraps in general, but rarely if ever make them for myself. I see them at parties or meetings loaded with cream cheese and sliced into spirals. I guess that constitutes a wrap in its pre-sliced state, right? I bought some low-carb , almost fat-free whole grain wraps (Toufayan Bakeries) and was surprised to find they were actually tasty. Since I made this wrap, I’ve been scrambling eggs and wrapping them up with tomatoes and basil. Clearly, they’re growing on me.
- Use any kind of salad greens and herbs for a wrap like this, but go heavy on the greens. I thought of it as a way to eat salad without a plate and it worked.
- I had the chicken left over from the previous night’s dinner, so it was perfect for this.
- Adding the rest of the ingredients is fun. Just use what you enjoy.
- About the sorrel: It’s specifically Bloody Sorrel or Red Dock, an herb which comes from the Mediterranean region and used both medicinally and in cooking. Some sources will say that it’s purely ornamental and that eating it will cause stomach discomfort. I’ve never had that problem. Overall, sorrel has a strong taste without the metallic characteristic that spinach often has, and with a bit of a tang. It’s not bitter or sharp tasting. To prepare it, I remove the red veins and central stem and discard. I cook it for soup with spinach and also use it in salads. Greens like bloody sorrel and spinach contain oxalic acid which interferes with the absorption of the calcium in those foods. If cooked, this no longer happens. Read more about foods containing oxalic acid here.
- My sorrel is planted in a small herb box. It enjoys sun for half the day — mostly in the afternoon. On hot days, it’s prone to extreme wilting unless it’s been watered that morning. It perks back up out of direct sunlight. New leaves are very tender and great for something like this wrap. Like most plants, the older, larger leaves are more coarse and tough. Keep an eye on it, as snails and slugs enjoy it quite a bit.
Patio Project Progress:
Essentially, we’re freshening things up out back to make it more attractive and pleasant to spend time in. Although we’re working primarily on the planters, at some point, we need to replace the fence for privacy since we’re in such close proximity to our neighbors on both sides.