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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May Harvest: Herbs, Chives, Live Freshness

An ode to French Sorrel, Chives and Lamb's Quarters - what a mix of plants to have around, what a delight in the kitchen - and so easy going in the garden. Chives (really, Garlic Chives in this case) are sweet, tangy, with garlic taste and lovely pink flowers - the plant spreads easily, forming fragrant "lawn" of sorts, not suitable for walking but with the similar appearance of succulent green color. Pink flowers taste great with sauteed vegetables and in salads, and are adored by bees and other pollinators. Omelets, soups, vegetable medley - chives are there all summer long!
French Sorrel is a perennial herb, very cold hardy. It expects fair amount of water, and no doubt, it will spread in some situations though is easy contained in semi-arid climate to a cultivated (watered) spot. It likes some coolness as well, as it will bolt otherwise. Leaves are sour, almost stingy in their strong taste that becomes most pleasant in sorrel soup. The soup is summer delight - served cold, with crumbles of cooked egg, and some home-made yogurt - another complete permaculture meal at our farm (i.e. we can produce all ingredients). Recipe is as follows: Boil some water (or use frozen  stock) and cook one or two quartered potatoes. Add fresh onion, chopped and sauteed, and a large bowl of clean sorrel leaves, chopped if you wish. Sorrel will shrink to a very small volume so don't worry about overdoing it. Cook for a few more minutes. Chill and serve. A sprinkle of cheese, sourcream, yogurt, or garlic chive flowers will add to the flavors.
Sorrel cooked by itself can be frozen in glass for use later in season, as soup starter.
Lamb's Quarters is a weedy kind of annual, there are wild and cultivated varieties - the latter have much larger and thicker leaves, easier to harvest. The plant reseeds itself, a valuable (though annoying) quality - depends on where it comes up in the garden, it is either a bother or a gift!
It's other name is Poor Man's Spinach, it grows so well and so tall, and is so productive that it deserves the name of Rich Man's Spinach instead. Not so good frozen, it can be admired all summer long with sauteed veggies, though it is overproductive, that it makes good chicken and goat feed supplement! You get a handfull of leaves for dinner and the rest is enjoyed by the poultry. Not bad.
Happy planting.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May Harvest: Stinging Nettle - Permaculture Plant of the Week

An aggressive tall ground cover, a plant that makes many people wonder why grow it in the first place, it stings indeed quite strongly - this is a favorite in a permaculture food forest! If planted in a well selected spot where it can spread without negatively affecting gardener's comfort, this plant produces heavily, grows without many demands and puts its incredible life force into dark green foliage that is ready to harvest in mid Spring.