08 April 2014

G is for Gardens: The Long Winter is Over! (I Think)

It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth,
to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.
~ Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.

f gardening is art, then my canvas is in desperate need of new paints and brushstrokes. 

Contrary to what you may think, I don’t resent the long winter we've had, I really don’t!  

First of all, I look forward to the coming humidity and high temperatures as much as I looked forward to having my wisdom teeth yanked out of my jaws.

But now my farmer/gardener fingers are getting itchy.  

To play in the dirt.  To plant some seeds.  To enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes from the caress of delicious black soil over bare feet and work-stained hands.  To feel a light, warm spring breeze.  To listen and coo to the birds that dance and sing around the bird bath.

To grow my own herbs, vegetables, and fruit and eat with the seasons.

G is for Gardens
The only other activity that gives me greater joy than playing in the dirt of my garden is writing.  So I garden and then write about it.  I write in my garden, beside it, looking down from my home office at it.

Best of both worlds.

Sunday, I planted the first seeds: the Calendula flower.  Which to my surprise, is also known as the common marigold, or pot marigold. Wiki says 

Image credit: Wikipedia
Pot marigold florets are considered edible. They are often used to add color to salads, or added to dishes as a garnish and in lieu of saffron. The leaves are edible but are often not palatable. They have a history of use as a potherb and in salads.
Flowers were used in ancient Greek, Roman, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures as a medicinal herb as well as a dye for fabrics, foods and cosmetics.[3] Many of these uses persist today. They are also used to make oil that protects the skin.
So I did some more digging. (See what I did there?) And found out that the marigolds I planted last year and that saved copious seeds from are known as French marigolds:

Image credit: Wikipedia
Used mainly as an edging plant on herbaceous borders, it is a low-growing plant with flowers of blended red and yellow in most varieties. French marigolds are commonly planted in butterfly gardens as a nectar source.
Medicinally, many cultures use infusions from dried leaves or florets

Note the difference: Calendula is edible; the French marigold apparently is not.  Maybe I should make a sign for my garden that says that.

How Green Does Your Garden Grow?
I do blame Old Man Winter for preventing me from planting my precious Sugar Snaps.  I may still try to plant some anyway for the sweet pea shoots ~ they make a delicious salad.

Speaking of salad, I have already planned out my greens for the year.  They don’t all start with G…actually, none of them do, but they are all greens:

Argula ~ last year, this took off like a doped up runner.  The package says to resow throughout the season, but I never had to.  I would cut some leaves for dinner, and almost the next day, a new batch would spring up.

Collards ~ no self-respecting Southern garden would go without growing collards.  Granted, we almost make it nutritionally neutral by cooking them in bacon fat.  Still awesome.  And still counts as a green.  That is all.

Endive ~ have never planted this, so we’ll see what comes up. Literally.

Kale ~ I love kale.  That is all.  I planted some last year and it never sprouted.  So will try again this year.

Spinach ~ Dad loved Popeye and would always remind us kids that we needed to eat our spinach to grow strong like Popeye.  And then he would flex his bicep (which actually was impressive) and we would roll our eyes and say we didn’t want muscles like that.  Today, I love spinach ~ it’s full of calcium and protein.  Especially good for those of us who are dairy intolerant.

Watercress ~ I’m still searching for seeds for this.  It used to grow wild in the cow pasture out back, but I haven’t seen it lately.  Makes great tea sandwiches.

The great thing about most greens, they like cooler weather.  So when that last frost shows up in May (you think I’m kidding ~ this is Virginia, people!), I won’t have to worry too much.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What greens are you planting?  What are you favorite greens to eat?  If you would like some French marigold seeds (organic and non-GMO), comment below and then email me your mailing address.

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