First Green Spring Salad

I’m trying to learn a little Spanish to make our expeditions to Latin America more fun and in the process I learned that the Spanish word for spring, the season, is primavera which literally means “first green.” So appropriate. I had my first green salad from the garden the other day and it was so satisfying.

I went to the fridge with the intention of using up the last of the salad mix we’d purchased at the farmers market a while back (a while back) and found it was past its best-by date, to put it delicately. Fortunately, the rain that we’ve been having off and on had broken for a change and the sun was out so I went up to the garden to see if I could find something to put in a salad.

Butterhead

Yay! Green! This is the baby butterhead lettuce, which I like to call Baby Butthead.  I had sown it rather thickly so I took the opportunity to take out a few whole plants. I want some to get big enough to make some wraps.

Black Dinosaur Kale

Black kale. This stuff looked so dark and beautiful against the…

Oakleaf

Green Oakleaf lettuce.

Red Russian Kale

There’s also red Russian kale. You may have noticed the flea beetle damage on the kales. This is nothing compared to what they do to arugula. I think they’re past the stage of being really vulnerable and a few holes don’t bother me. I just make sure to rinse well.

Spinach

There was also plenty of spinach. I picked baby leaves and the larger ones from the plants I overwintered. You can see the volunteer dill that has sprung up in the spinach bed. I picked a bunch of that to mix in, too. I’ve discovered how adding a pinch of a fresh herb really brightens up a salad.

I picked and picked into the little bucket I had brought, gently snugging the leaves down as I went. When I got home I started unpacking and washing it all and discovered I’d harvested way more than I thought. I did three salad spinner loads of mixed greens and three of the spinach! So far I’ve had two, very good and fresh big salads and soba noodles with steamed spinach. I’ve got enough for at least one more big salad, several sandwich toppings and I think tonight’s dinner will be a spinach frittata. The leafy goodness is here and I’m going to chow it down every chance I get!

What’s coming out of your garden and into your salad bowl that you’re excited about this season?

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The 2014 Garden Has Begun!

The temperature got up to a toasty 4°F/-21°C this morning so I went for a walk up to the garden and I’m glad to report it’s well on its way for 2014.

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What? You don’t believe me? Here, I’ll make it easier to see.

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See? A few crops are already in place and nicely protected by this deep blanket of snow and the straw beneath it. When it warms up again this spring the plants will begin to grow again and I’ll have a jump on the season. While it’s normal for me to plant garlic in the fall, I tried a couple of new things this year.

Last spring when I was planting other things, I kept coming across spinach plants that had survived the winter and were growing new leaves. The same was true for some onions and shallots that I missed harvesting. This fall, instead of ripping out all the spinach to work in organic matter like I usually do, I just harvested the leaves that were left and then mulched them with a thick layer of straw.

The onions are another kind of experiment. When I had harvested all the large onions I left the smaller ones to grow some more. When the time came to sow a cover crop of buckwheat, they really hadn’t put on enough size to make them worth keeping, but I pulled them anyway. I dried and cured them along with the rest and stored them in the basement. Then it occurred to me that I could try planting them again when it got cold, just like the garlic so I did. Some straw mulch was put down as insurance against a dry winter without enough snow cover. I can’t wait to see if they survive and grow again this year.