Monday, April 10, 2006

First Harvest

Because we haven't bought a house here yet (we're renting), my garden this year will be in pots. I spent Saturday planting my container garden: I've planted snow peas seeds, lettuce (both seeds and from transplants), mache (from seed), and a whole bunch of herb transplants -- rosemary, basil, marjoram, thyme, parsley, and fennel.

Although I'm just getting started, I've already taken my first harvest from the yard: wild violets. The yard is covered with them, and since we don't use any synthetic products on our lawn they are edible.

The flowers don't have much of a distinctive taste, but they are beautiful and they make an ordinary salad seem like something exotic. The leaves have a very mild, fresh taste and are not the least bit bitter. The dark green leaves and the purple flowers contrast nicely with the yellow-green hearts of butter lettuce or romaine. When I served our salads on Sunday, I think this is the first time in 9 years of marriage that Doug was stunned by the food's presentation -- hey, I'm usually making casserole or some other "gloppy" stuff.

No special preparation is required: just pick, rinse, and eat. Sunday was such a beautiful day that I was looking for any excuse to be outside, so I probably spent 1/2 hour to an hour picking violets. I was surprised how well the leaves and flowers held up after sitting in the sun for that long. I put them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator until dinner, then I dried them in the salad spinner before using them. I refrigerated the leftovers in the salad spinner, and they still look fresh today, two days later. On the other hand, the dandelion flowers I picked the same day (they're edible too, but that's another post) began to close up within an hour, even in water.

I have read on the Web that violets are high in vitamin C, and very high in vitamin A: half a cup of leaves contains well more than a whole day's supply (so don't overdo it).