31 May Garden vegetables boost nutrition
I don’t know about you, but I find it challenging some days to eat all the vegetables I ought to. I “strive for five” a day, and yet I sometimes fall short.
Luckily, garden vegetables seem to make it easier. After going to the trouble of growing them, it would be such a waste not to eat them. And some are perennials that come up year after year.
The trick, I’ve learned, is to go to the vegetable patch every day to see what’s available. We’ve been eating kale that overwintered. The plants are all going to seed, but the new growth is surprisingly tender. We even have some Swiss chard that managed to overwinter.
Asparagus season is well underway. As a perennial crop, it needs extra careful attention to keep out weeds and grass. It also likes a dose of lime every few years, and plenty of compost – some spread before the harvest, and some spread after.
It’s possible to grow fiddleheads in your garden. Be sure you buy Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris); it has a deep groove running up the front of the stem. Always consult a good guide. Soak the fiddleheads in water, rub off the papery brown covering, and boil for 15 minutes or steam for 20 minutes. Do not eat them raw!
Rhubarb is another perennial crop. Most people use the red stems as if it were a fruit, adding a bit of sugar or honey to soften the tart taste. Tough old stems can be boiled with water and then strained for a nutritious drink.
You can always grow extra early greens such as lettuce, spinach, bok choy and arugula with the use of a cold frame. Set out the frame a week or two early, to warm up the soil, and then plant seeds or set out transplants.
Lovage, a perennial herb, is in rapid growth mode, and it’s great in soups and stews to add a celery-like flavor. I throw in half a dozen branches for a small meal. A clump of lovage will gradually grow wider, but it is easy to control with digging.
You might also find some self-seeded dill or cilantro.
If you have Japanese knotweed, you can cut off the tender growing tips and toss them into a stir-fry. Some folks enjoy the cooked young leaves of dandelions, but once they flower the leaves are not as tasty.
Check out your garden to see what’s growing, and here is some information about Ostrich fern.