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Super early greens  RSS feed

 
jenni blackmore
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We had a typical spring storm last night - (a typical east coast of Nova Scotia welcome for the first day of spring!) - that's left us with a couple of inches of slushy wet snow Even so, all my kale and tat soi seeds that were planted inside are well sprouted along with a mix I call 'Mizugula' simply because I wasn't careful enough to separate my arugula and mizuna when saving seed. Not such a terrible mistake as it turns out because neither plant fights for dominance and they seem to grow quite happily together.

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
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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jenni blackmore wrote:I can hardly wait for that first pick of super early greens!


I know what you mean. My first picking (of enough for a meal) was today. Hyper-exciting time of year!

 
jenni blackmore
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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.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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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.


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Violets
 
jenni blackmore
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The picture of your violets had me sighing with longing - the thought of you sitting among them, nibbling away, had me smiling from ear to ear as I imagined your ears growing long and 'rabbitty'!

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?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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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."

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.

 
Hester Winterbourne
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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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.
 
jenni blackmore
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You can 'sugar' violets and I do have a hazy memory of one of my ancient British 'aunties' having them as the definitive touch on delicately iced cakes. She also used to carry a small tin containing tiny, lavender-colored sweeties called Palma violets which she would dole out, not very generously. at the rate of one per visit

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.
 
jenni blackmore
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Hi Hester! I notice that you also mentioned the alternate name girasol (re sunchokes) so I thought you might also be interested in an alternate name for corn salad which is Rapunzel. I believe it is German in origin and is thought to be the inspiration for the Grimm's Brother fairy tale of the same name. Apparently it was the plant the unfortunate girls father was 'stealing' from the sorceress's garden.

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
 
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