Friday, April 30, 2010

Land of the Giants

It's that time of year, the transition between winter and spring, or even between spring and summer. Turn your back on the garden and suddenly things have grown to brobdignagian proportions!

The weed-grass in my fence bed has gotten quite tall, cornflowers have sprung up out of nowhere, and the Red Giant Mustard is living up to its name. Those leaves are 18 inches long and as wide as your hand from fingertips to wrist!

Other vegetables of unusual size include a giant chiogga beet, larger than a softball, which we vanquished for dinner tonight. It was still beautifully sweet and tender, and had not gotten even a tiny bit woody. That's one of the great features of chiogga, another reason why it's remained a treasured heirloom for so long. We'd missed this one beet amongst the cabbages and it just kept growing!

Astute readers will note that if the beet is larger than a softball, the cabbage is not particularly large, and they're correct. I plucked the smallest of the savoy cabbages to steam tonight for dinner, leaving the larger siblings in the garden. While beautiful and ruffly, they taste strongly of mustard, which is not a plus in my opinion. Fortunately, my spouse likes them! Here is one of the larger cabbages, ready to pick this weekend before it decides to bolt.

The various herb planters and beds are overflowing with new, tender shoots. Time to do a spring pruning! I'll dry some, freeze some, and have given some away-- I made up herb bundles to include with the Friday "Sunnyvale Cares" donation via the Charles Street Gardens, and dropped them off, along with a couple of huge heads of lettuce.

From left to right, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm, golden sage and oregano shoots, winter savory, and marjoram. Hoo boy do I have marjoram. I have to keep it from taking over the pathway every spring and summer. My friend Stephany is going to teach me to make little herb baskets that you can weave together with some of the long spriggy herbs like oregano and marjoram. Once they dry, they make cute gifts and they're practical: drop one in a pot of soup!

Finally we leave the land of the giants and see a little tomato just getting going for the season. Aunt Ruby's German Green is my favorite non-red tomato. It's a true green, with green inside and a color that lightens as it ripens. It's creamy, low-acid, and smooth-- a tomato you'd love to put on a sandwich but don't kid yourself, you are going to eat it while gardening. So few of these ever make it indoors at our house! Grow big and strong, little A.R.G.G., we are counting on you for sun-warmed garden snacks.