I'm also pleased to see that most of my hardy greens that were planted in a cold frame last fall have survived quite well despite several really severe drops in temperature over the past few weeks. I can hardly wait for that first pick of super early greens!
Last year as an experiment I set up a hot bed (using fresh chicken manure) in an old tractor tire I'd found washed up on the beach. It was more or less intended just for fun but I was amazed by the regular and sizeable harvest of early greens it supplied for weeks. I was totally impressed and certainly plan to do that again as soon as the snow clears. I'm rather fascinated by the concept of hot bedding. I like to think it's because our short growing season welcomes anything that will extend it, but in truth it might just be that I'm impatient to be playing in the dirt
jenni blackmore wrote:What were you able to harvest, Joseph? Do tell! I'm always on the look out for ways to extend my shoulder season crops. And surely you're in an area where Old Man Winter gets even more cantankerous than he does here - although he's looking pretty cranky again this morning.
I'm breeding a winter-hardy kale. I sent thousands of plants into winter. Maybe a hundred survived. They are already producing food two weeks after the snow melted. I'm feeling like it's important to be overwintering crops to give me super early harvests in the spring.
I wildcrafted 4 weeds that survived the winter in style: chickweed, which is new to me. Wild lettuce, and dandelion which I typically don't eat because they are so bitter. But first thing in the spring they are much milder. And mallow, which I really aught to start a breeding project for, cause it grows so well here, and stayed green all winter long.
Then my long-term favorite: Egyptian walking onions.
As always, I have plenty of garlic weeds, and tons of sunroot weeds. I included some of those.
The turnips that were planted in late fall survived, They provided roots and greens.
I experimented with overwintering spinach. I got it into the ground late, but there was still some ready to harvest.
And I sat on the lawn and ate violet flowers, and I had tilled under a cabbage last fall, which was still good this spring, so munched on that while I was weeding.
Kale certainly is amazing in it's resilience. I have some that got left out in the open and it will look totally dead yet perk right up again the minute the temperatures rise. The only thing I've found to be at least as, and perhaps even more resilient is Mache (a.k.a. corn salad) but it has the downside of being much slower to grow. Very tasty though.
I certainly share your appreciation of Egyptian or Walking onions and can't understand why they are not much more popular than they are. I have a habit of raving on about them and almost always have bulbils to give away, but I still find the general response is tepid at best. Maybe they sound just too good to be true - and they're such neat looking and interesting plants when they start to 'walk'.
I was curious about your mention of sunroots - might they be what I call Jersusalem Artichokes or Sunchokes? And one more question (sorry, but I'm curious as a cat when it comes to gardening) What are garlic weeds?
I grow a lot of garlic, and don't always get all of it harvested, so there are plenty of volunteers from year to year. I have not managed to successfully eradicate the garlic weeds from any location where I have previously grown it. So I harvest the plants in early spring as "Garlic scallions". At that point, the whole plant is essentially edible.
I think that I'd like to try sauteed violets.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:When I started selling Jerusalem Artichokes at the farmer's market, they had a horrible image problem. People would say, "I don't like artichokes". Aargh!!! They are not the same thing, or even similar. And I can't sell sun-chokes, because it is imprudent to choke the people that I am feeding. So I only call them sunroots, and if people press me hard for an alternate name, I'll only say, "They are the root of a sunflower."
The French name I believe is Girasoles (soft g) which might sound more upmarket and appealing!
re earlier posts, dandelions I find much less bitter if soaked for a while. My favourite winter salad though is corn salad as Jenni says, actually this is one of my most favourite plants for all sorts of reasons, but it has over wintered here although it does take a bit of picking over to get the grotty leaves out from the nice ones. It is so wonderfully mild in flavour. I've got land cress still looking very hale and hearty but it is just too hot and peppery for a salad for me.
Also, have you ever tried Sunchoke pate? It is totally delicious and highly nutritious. It's strange how people are turned off by their name - even though they are written up Larousse Gastronomique. They can also be called 'girasol' which is a name I rather like because it refers to the flower and its habit of turning to follow the path of the sun.
Also, I notice you are located in the Midlands - I was brought up in Manchester but now I live on a very small island just east of Halifax Nova Scotia