Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Asian Greens 2014

Spring is an amazing time of year in Central Washington. Never before have I lived a place where you can both snowboard through fresh powder and sow seeds in your garden during the same day. We are fortunate to have spring come early in our part of the world.  Although it may feel like a long winter to some, where I grew up the weather is still dipping below zero. I consider our almost guaranteed mild weather a gift from above and I relish the songs of the red winged blackbirds and robins who confirm my belief that winter is indeed over.
If you have not already started a few seedlings, now is the time to do it. Already at the farm, trays are filling up with starts....onions, shallots, leeks, basil, broccoli, celeriac, peppers and kohlrabi. Soon cabbage, tomatoes and eggplant will be added to the list. The high tunnels are planted to the brim with greens; little cotyledons already poking up above the dark soil.
For those of you who are living down valley, you can begin to plant your spring garden any day now. Many vegetables thrive in the cool of spring. Some of my favorites are the Asian greens. With a multitude of varieties to choose from and outstanding flavor and versatility, Asian greens are one of the underappreciated gems of the spring garden. They are fast to mature, take up very little space (compared to tomatoes or corn) and are easy to grow, making them a good choice for beginner gardeners. They are also forgiving at harvest time. These greens can be harvested at a baby size for salads or can be allowed to mature for stir fries. In Asia, these plants are typically not even harvested until they have begun to flower (when their nutrient content is at its peak). What this means for the home gardener is that you really can’t go wrong. No matter the size, these plants will remain edible and will not bitter (although the flavor changes with size). Since they are fast to mature and can tolerate cooler weather, the gardener can sow these greens early in the season, harvest  as needed and then use the  same garden space later on for warmer weather crops.

This year, embrace the spring vegetable gardening season whole-heartedly and free yourself from the bane of wilted grocery store produce. Allow yourself to experiment with something different...you might find a new favorite food.

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