Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Multi-cultural morsels in my garden

The years go round and round; seasons come and go; garden pickings wax and wane, as does the moon and slowly I edge towards growing more of the things that make me smile. For some people, growing potatoes is a buzz. For others its English spinach or French radishes with their white tips. There is nothing that makes me smile more when they appear, self-sown in winter, than miners' lettuce and shungiku.

image This year's crop of miners' lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) has been the best I have ever grown.... well, it grew itself; I really had nothing to do with it except the odd sprinkle of water in my little hot house. It is not necessary to grow it indoors here but I will continue to have some indoors as its merry, almost heart-shaped, vivid green leaves were bigger and more succulent than any I have grown previously, anywhere else.

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And now, as the leaves change to circular and the delicate flower stalks erupt from the centre of the leaves, it cascades over the brick wall edging in the hot house and looks like fairyland. I am still picking bits and pieces for salads but soon it will be stringy and too coarse to be be nice. I find the seeds too fiddly to find and save so I will let it self-sow and look forward to the first indication of it regenerating next winter.

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image Shungiku (Chrysanthemum coronarium) is otherwise called edible chrysanthemum. Popular in Japan, it originates from the Mediterranean and has none of the flavours of many other Asian greens. Rather it is .... well, more delicate, more European in flavour. The pretty, greyish, chrysanthemum leaves can be picked for salads or thrown into hot dishes at the last moment but, although the petals are fine to eat, the whole flowers are shockingly strong!

image Here I found some growing better at a friend's recently, than at my place, and evidently it has been lush and magnificent all winter even in the worst frosts. I will collect the seeds of her's and sow them myself next year and look forward to many months of pickings when most people seem to be living only silver beet and kale. Nice as those are, and I do so love various kales especially, as well as most Asian greens, its nice to have these little treats in your garden; things that you are never quite sure of and which give such delight when they succeed.

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