Mary's Veggie Garden

April 26, 2010

A Seasonal Salad: Mid-April

Filed under: Gardening,Greens,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 3:05 pm
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April 23 I went to the garden with a camera and a colander to capture a salad. This is the result:

Mid-April Salad fresh from a N.Y. garden

Ingredients:

Mache or Corn Salad - bolting

Corn Salad or Mache (Valerianella locusta) – Corn salad is the first green I harvest each year. It is a low growing rosette with a very mild flavor. I have not detected the “nutty” flavor others describe. I harvest mache by cutting the plant off at the base.

I let 3 or 4 plants bolt each spring then dry in my garden. With sufficient moisture some of the seed from the bolted plants will sprout in the fall. The fall plants over-winter quite well with no effort from me. They don’t mind freezing rain or being buried under snow for weeks at a time. More seed sprouts very early in the spring.

Mache can be harvested during the winter and early spring. All the mache plants are bolting now, in mid April. The leaves are less tender and the plants are developing stems that get fibrous. The mache was much easier to clean a month ago, before it bolted.

When if first I planted mache salad in 2002 I was very disappointed with the results. I only got a few small plants that bolted quickly. Now I understand why: the timing of my planting was all wrong.

Common Chives

Common Chives: a few chopped spears add a mild onion flavor to any salad.

Sorrel adds a lemon flavor

Sorrel (Rumex acetosella): this lemon flavored perennial is up very early in the spring. One leaf is enough for 3 salads.

Plant sorrel in a place it can stay: it is difficult to move because of its long tap-root.  If you don’t remove the flower stalks when sorrel bolts, you may find new plants next year.

Red Giant Mustard - baby plants

Mustard greens (reds?): I let a few too many mustard plants go to seed last summer. I now have about 200 square feet of garden covered by baby mustard plants. Mustard leaves have a spicy hot flavor – similar to a hot radish.  At this size they are OK in a salad, but I don’t like the heat of bigger plants.

If you zoom in on the mustard picture, you’ll see tiny yellow specks on the red leaves. The specks are pollen, probably from our Norway maple trees.

Fall Planted Spinach in April

Spinach: I’ve not been very successful with planting spinach in the fall for early spring harvest.  Last year’s efforts yielded only 2 plants.

Lettuce - Self-Sown

Lettuce: Last year I let several lettuce plants bolt and spread their seed around the garden. Usually I don’t find these ‘wild’ plants until early May, but this year they are early.

Violets

Violets: these are the common violets growing all over my yard though the plants I harvest are inside my garden fence. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, with a very mild flavor. A few flowers make a nice finishing touch.

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