Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ten Days

Again I need to find time to make updates on the blog (my written journal is a little more updated). What a difference 10 days can are a few pictures of the garden ten days apart from May 5 and May 16. I know, today is the 21 - so I'm still behind!

[Below] The daffodils have bloomed and now there are seed pods standing in the place of flowers. I never knew how interesting these pods looked.

[Below] You can click to get a little bit larger images...most tulips have been bright and are now fading. Other plants are getting larger to take their place later in the summer.

[Below] On the 5th, peas were just poking up above the soil...not much to see.

[Below] Just over a week later they are very visible. It won't be long before they start putting on a lot more height.

[Below] New raspberry plants are sending up some shoots and starting to fill out some canes from last year...

[Below] A few days of sun and the leaves are really filling out the plants. I am looking forward to harvesting some berries this year.

[Below] Two varieties of rhubarb were just filling out on the 5th...

[Below] Now they are starting to bulk up some stems...won't be long for a harvest.

[Below] Okay this pair is a bit different. These are lettuce seedlings that were direct sown.

[Above: A spinach seedling in the lower left, pea shoots, mixed leaf lettuces, and a few scattered radishes.]

[Below] Here are plants that have been transplanted rather than direct seeded. The lettuce can be harvested now.

[Above: There is butterhead and green ice lettuce, curled kale, kohlrabi, and clover in this picture.]

Ten days can hold quite a bit of growth and activity in a garden!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Edibles

(Common Evening-Primrose)

Spring is coming along well here....I have a couple of updates waiting, starting with this one. In a previous post, I mentioned my research into "wild edibles" in our yard starting with the common day-lily. I have now had the chance to try a few more from the list. It's really been interesting so far...and so many can be found well before the first domestic vegetables.

As you may tell from the top image, the main focus this time was the common evening-primrose. The old image below is the day-lily can spot the old evening primrose stalks in the front.

(Bed with primrose stalks and day-lily shoots)

Photos from last year show the mature plants.

The plant of interest is the early spring specimen. From my trusty field guide, I find that the young leaves can be used in salads or as a cooked green. As the description said - they are a bit peppery. They were not really bitter for me used fresh. The leaves are hairy, so the texture is a bit different.

(Common Evening-Primrose Top)

Another edible part is the cooked first-year is said the fall and early spring are the best times to harvest as they can become "quite peppery". I tried the cooked root, plain but it really was strong. It would likely be improved by using it as part of a dish and following the procedure of using 2-3 changes of water (I didn't want to go through the trouble - but should have for a better experience).

(Common Evening-Primrose Root)

So a little summary based on the guide book and an online article:

Early Spring: Tender leaves, cooked or in salad
Early Spring: First year roots, cooked
Summer-Fall: Flowers
Fall: Seeds, crack and add to baking
Late Fall: First year roots, cooked
(Peppery flavor can be reduced by using multiple changes of water in cooking.)

I have been making some Spring salads with various greens. Here is a common plantain. The young leaves (Early Spring) are used in salads or cooked. Older leaves will get stringy -- you can see the fibers in the leaf veins. They don't seem too invasive and are also medicinal for cuts and stings. Here is a nice YouTube video by "Eat the Weeds" Green Deane.

(Common Plantain)

It seems most people are familiar with dandelions. I have been mixing in some of the greens in salads as well. I notice that plants that grow in shadier places have much less bitter leaves. Dandelions have quite a list of edible uses: Salad leaves in Early Spring, Flower buds (like the one below) can be boiled or pickled, Flowers Spring to Late Summer can be cooked as fritters or used to make wine, and Early Spring and Fall roots can be roasted and used like coffee. (Dandelion Video: He can't get them to grow in his yard!)

(Dandelion Rosette)

There are much better sources of this information than here, but since this is what I am learning in the garden I will write about it. It seems that weeding can now be harvesting :-)

PS: While I am linking videos, here is the day-lily video.