Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter Greens: Getting Spiky About Spring

Welcome, Weekend Herb Blogging readers!

Not only are winter greens easy and fun to grow, they like to surprise you now and then by deciding that Spring must be here. With all the recent (relatively) warmer rain, some of my asian stir-fry greens seem to have decided to Go For It and see about flowering. Hmm, can you spot the joi choi who is thinking it's Spring?

Fortunately for us, these flower spikes are not only quirkily charming, but are also a special, nutrient-packed treat. Eat flowers? Isn't that just for fancy salads and goat cheese? Nope! For instance, most of us have eaten this edible flower, broccoli!

Broccoli has many tasty cousins to enjoy. There's Italian broccoli raab, and a number of friendly flower spikes that often go by the name Chinese broccoli but which can be anything from flowering choi to various mustards. Here's some tsatsoi that has decided to reach for the sky.

Along with the cultivated greens, we have some tasty stir-frying options mixed among our cover crops. The early flower clusters of culinary seed mustard, such as this lovely example in my side tomato bed, can be snipped and added to other greens, or tossed daringly in a cream sauce over pasta. Yum!

It's not only little Ralphie's mom in Rabbit Hill, always making peavine soup, who can appreciate winter peas extravagant growth habits. The tender tops, not yet in flower, are delicious steamed or gently toss-cooked in light olive oil, with or without matchstick ginger and a little garlic.

Plant some extra peas to snip periodically for the table, or just snip bits here and there for a special treat-- not too much if you want a good crop of pea pods. I think I still have some slack left on the main pea-patch. Thinning them out a bit also helps prevent powdery mildew when the weather gets warmer, but it's not going to be warm enough for that for quite a while yet!


Blogger Crafty Gardener said...

How lovely to grow winter greens ... not where I live though. I rely on the grocery store for my greens at this time of the year.

3:55 AM PST  
Blogger Anna Haight said...

Wow! I could sure learn something from you! I've just dipped my toes in this summer growing some things in containers on my deck. I've added you to my Bay Area blogroll. Thanks for participating in WHB.

12:46 PM PST  
Blogger Kalyn said...

Your greens do look wonderful. Sigh, all my garden is buried in snow.

7:11 PM PST  
Blogger Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

We have had some kale decide to turn red and go to seed before we transplanted it out of the sprouting tray in the greenhouse. Crazy plants.


7:55 PM PST  
Blogger Laurie Constantino said...

That tatsoi looks amazingly healthy and delicious. I can hardly wait until the next growing season!

1:15 AM PST  
Blogger Gardening for Fun said...

Your broccoli looks great. What's underneath it? It's interesting looking. I plan on growing some bok choy this spring. I hope they do well. Your peas look yummy too!

8:21 PM PST  
Blogger Strata said...

Thanks for all the kind words!

Gardening for Fun, that's cilantro growing around underneath the broccoli. I scatter seed in the fall and after we've had a week or two of rain it comes up. Nice to have it at the same time that avocados are ripe-- I adore cilantro-full guacamole.

12:24 PM PST  

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