Sunday, February 05, 2012

Greens - Phases of Growth & Winter Snapshot

Inflection Point

With lengthening days and unusually abundant winter sunshine, the greens in our yard grow actively again! No longer do I sparingly pick leaves, carefully allocating the non-renewable resource over the weeks of winter gloom. We enter a period of daily growth in the yard evenly balanced with how much we can eat each day. Soon we'll enter the crazy exponential phase of growth where we can't possibly eat it all, and we'll start replacing some of the weedy greens with more deliberate summer staple crops. As we eliminate the greens further out in the yard, we'll turn our attention more and more to the two new dedicated beds of perennial greens I organized over the last couple of months. These beds, of about 100 square feet total, currently lie in the shade of the house, so are growing more slowly than the rest of the yard. In another month they should have enough sunlight to begin vigorous growth, and the shadier conditions will help them through the summer.

Right now, since each leaf is small to tiny and I have to pick a thousand leaves to fill a bowl, harvesting takes me about 5 minutes per ounce.  That will change soon as leaves get larger, overall growth gets denser, and I spend less time wiping off dirt splashed onto leaves from the ground.

Current Greens Harvests

Roughly in descending order of bulk, we're currently harvesting:

Salad Greens

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Wintercress (Barbarea verna)
  • Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum)
  • Woodland chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris)
  • Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum)
  • Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
  • French sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
  • Scorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica)
  • Allium tops (garlic chives, elephant garlic, egyptian walking onion, bunching onion, other unknown species)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Earth chestnut (Bunium bulbocastanum)
  • Popweed (Cardamine something or other)
  • Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinale)
  • Unknown mint
  • Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
  • ground cover bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana)
  • Zebra mallow (Malva sylvestris mauritiana)
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • Siberian miner's lettuce (Montia sibirica)
  • Hen and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum)
Stinging Nettle

Cooking Greens

In addition to using most of the same greens as for salads, we're harvesting (again in descending order of bulk):
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
  • Tree collard
  • Clove root leaves (Geum urbanum)
  • Radish leaves
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Beet leaves

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