This recipe came about on a weekend afternoon as I was puttering around in the garden weeding and thinning out crops that were too closely planted. Radishes were the main culprit. I don’t plant them in rows or in a dedicated space for that matter. Instead, I pop the seeds into gaps here, there, and everywhere. And then I forget where I planted them. Days later I plant some more. Or the squirrels dig them up and shift them too close to other plants. Or, like last year, I allow the crop to go rogue and now, in the spring, I find myself with loads of closely-packed plants.
But this is not a problem, because while the roots may be small, there are handfuls of lush greens that can be wilted, roasted, or fried. This is something I did not understand with my first unsuccessful attempts at growing radishes years ago. While the roots can be tricky if the soil is too dry or shallow, the prickly, hairy greens are very edible when cooked. In fact, they’re delicious!
We’re hitting that magical time of the season when a growing portion of our meals are gleaned from the garden. I enjoy moving around the space, snipping bits of this and that from here and there. I have edibles tucked in everywhere. There are lettuce seedlings in every bed, except the dry one. They would not fair well there.
Yesterday’s lunch, a simple salad (Except the eggs. No chickens here. Le sigh. Oh, and the cheese.) came from the garden.
Here’s my process:
- Photo Top Left: ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce. This is the same lettuce that miraculously overwintered. I dug up the seedlings and planted them here and there.
- Photo Top Right: Harvesting assorted edible greens. These include: Two types of spinach, bloody dock, chive flowers, viola flowers, French Sorrel, pea shoots, curly parsley, violet leaves, another type of lettuce (I forget), curly cress, ‘Green Wave’ mustard, mizuna, ‘Red Frills’ mizuna, spring onion, lemon balm, mint, and borage seedlings. These are just a few examples of salad fixins you can grow.
- Photo Bottom Left: Easy dressing done right in the bowl. Just add your greens and toss. Olive oil, a dash of Balsamic vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped chive blossoms and parsley.
- Photo Bottom Right: And eat. With boiled eggs and asparagus. Enjoyed with a kefir milk smoothie.
Recently, our meals have been peppered with ingredients gleaned from the gardens; however, today’s lunch is the first that is all garden grown.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Chive Blossoms: A hardy perennial that has been growing for about a decade in a big container on the roof.
- Lemon Balm: Eat the fresh leaves in the spring. This is a hardy perennial that self seeds all over the community garden.
- Parsley: From the roof.
- Pansy petals: Also from the roof.
- Three types of lettuce: All of which self-seeded in various containers on the roof. I didn’t have to do a thing, although I did transplant a few to the community garden plot.
- ‘Egyptian Walking Onion’: Just the greens.
- Borage sprouts: I got this idea from Julianna, who brought a salad to our Saturday afternoon transplant trade/potluck that included borage from her garden. Borage self-seeds like nobody’s business and is coming up like mad right now. why not use the tender, fresh sprouts rather than tossing them in the compost? The first set of true leaves are prickly but the cotyledon leaves are smooth, with a fresh cucumbery taste.
- Baby kale
- Purple Mizuna: More on this soon. This is my new favourite edible!
- Assorted mustard greens
- Violet leaves and flowers: I have a small patch over at the community garden that is going to expand this year once I add the three additional varieties I have acquired this spring. Eat the young, new leaves and the flowers.
- Bloody Dock: If you’d like to know more, I wrote an article on spring greens including bloody dock, for Garden Making magazine.
For identification purposes, here’s what the borage seedlings look like. You can also identify them by their cucumber scent. The seedling in the top left corner is anise-hyssop. You can eat that too.
I came up with this idea while on assignment for Budget Living magazine. The idea was approved but sadly the magazine folded shortly thereafter and I was never able to see this concept to fruition.
The editor had asked me to come up with something for wedding season, a request that kind of made me laugh inside at the time because here is where I admit something that will either horrify and alienate a percentage of my readers and/or limit my future potential revenue stream: I don’t care for weddings.
I know they’re really just big, fancy parties but even big, fancy parties are a bit too ostentatious for my taste. I like to have fun, just not when that fun comes at the expense of truly enjoying myself or you know, spending money I don’t have. And the pressure. Weddings are so rife with pressure. The warnings are numerous. This is the most important day of your life, they scream. So it HAD BETTER be perfect! I’ve experienced a lot of drama at weddings over this false premise. During my one and only (never AGAIN) poorly executed maid-of-honor appointment I had to talk the bride off several proverbial ledges over what I thought were inconsequential details like, say, the colour of the fabric that the ring pillow would be made from. It HAD to match perfectly, don’t you see? Except the thing is, it did match perfectly.
If you’re looking for a hardy herb that will produce a harvest all season-long, and can withstand just about anything you can throw at it then look no further than chives. I’ve been growing this wash basin of chives for so many years I can’t for the life of me recall where I got the tub or the plant. All I know is that it is one of the few perennial herbs that I can count on to withstand an inconsistent and sometimes bitter winter in a container and additionally be the first plant up and providing garnishes for early spring soups.
Every spring I try and find a new way to fill in the gaps left by the plants that don’t have the fortitude of chives and give the planter a place of prominence as the first pretty thing to look at out on the rooftop deck. This particular planting received a lot of positive attention this spring so I thought I’d share it with you.
I use just about ever part of the plant. The early buds and fully open chive blossoms taste great in salads or steeped in vinegar to make a salad dressing.