Different people see different things when they look at a garden. Some might see a mess or chaos or laziness or weeds. But when you fall in love with plants, you can see a garden the way you see someone you love. Instead of seeing a sleepy, messy haired, bad breathed person in the morning, if you love a person, you see someone you know you are going to love spending time with every day. You know all the little things about that person that charm you. You know the potential. You see the depth, the life, the secret wonders that no one else sees. This is my garden in early spring. You may see weeds, out-of-bounds flower beds, grass that should be trimmed; but I see life, the wonders of dandelions and violets that appear without being planted, experiments tried, ideas for the future and a place where I love to spend time. It’s my garden, and I love it!
Sometimes, when you have a passion for something, you are tempted to want more and more of it. A passion for flowers can lead to….well….too much money spent at the gardening center…for one thing! In this past summer’s garden, I tried to exercise some restraint. I planted only a couple different kinds of flowers and I didn’t bring large bouquets into the house. In fact, sometimes….I only brought in one. This is one of my pink zinnias, floated in a little Chinese sauce dish. One is nice, don’t you think? I can learn to be happy with one. 🙂
Spinach? You say you wouldn’t be caught dead eating it? Spinach has come a long way since our mothers tried to get us to eat the stuff out of the can! Of course, their mothers probably got to eat it fresh out of the garden, and unless you’ve tasted it fresh out of the garden, well….you haven’t REALLY tasted spinach.
It all started with Larry Cleverley’s early spring pop up market in Des Moines. He tweeted his location, and all of a sudden, I just had to drive down there. You know, you’ve been counting the days until the farmers market opens, and all of a sudden you have the opportunity to get a taste of one a couple of weeks before you expected!
I bought a large bag of this spinach, which Larry says had overwintered from last year. I stir-fried it in a little oil, just until it wilted, and then added salt. Oh man, I couldn’t even get it on the plate before I had eaten it half gone! And do you notice how this spinach looks different from the baby spinach leaves you see in the clam shell at the store? It turns out the term for these “wrinkled” leaves is savoyed, as in deep green savoyed leaves. For some reason, the texture of this spinach is so much more appealing to me than the flat clam shell leaves that stick together in a blob. Now the key to eating greens, I’ve found, is not making yourself eat too much of this good thing. Think of your greens almost as a garnish, two or three bite fulls. The rest of my bag of green delight went into a quiche.
And all of this finally brings me to Seed Savers Exchange and my dream of fall spinach in my own garden. As I was wandering around the Seed Savers demonstration gardens, I saw it…..dark green savoyed leaves! Yes…spinach! The variety is called America.
I bought a packet of seeds and dream every night of spinach omelets and wilted spinach with salt and maybe even some crumbled bacon. My only question now is when I should sow it for a fall crop and should I start it under my grow lights or direct sow outdoors. Any ideas fellow gardeners?
This is what I had for supper tonight! It was the second salad from the….our…garden! In the past, I’ve usually gardened alone. I like to disappear into the garden for “me time”. It’s my gift to myself. After the ISU Student Organic Farm moved north of Ames, I thought I would never garden again, but this year, a friend of Steven’s asked me if I wanted to join their garden. He had gardened alone too, not been as successful as he had hoped, so this year, it’s going to be a community effort. 🙂 After working for several hours at the garden today, I filled my McDonald’s iced tea cup with some mesclun mix, a few spinach leaves, some sweet basil and lemon basil, and 3 sprigs of parsley. It didn’t look like much in the cup, but on my plate it was beautiful…and delicious! I dressed it with olive oil, lime juice and garlic salt.