Wednesday, May 12, 2010
What’s growing in your garden?
Only one month to go until the Montavilla Market rings the first bell of the season. I’m already looking forward to saying hello to familiar faces and meeting new vendors and filling my basket with good stuff. In the meantime, I visit our raised beds on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis to see if the seedlings have gotten any bigger overnight. Last season, we figured out that by adding PVC hoops and heavy-gauge plastic over our raised beds that we could extend our growing season. And perhaps more importantly we could keep the squirrels and cats from making a mess of the neatly ordered rows of seeds. The greenhouse effect in practical, useful application. The soil stays warm, the air stays moist, and the result is happy radishes and salad greens in early April. These are the things that keep me happy in spring and help build anticipation until I can ride down to the farmer’s market to fill my bags with a variety of vegetables that I could only dream of growing in my backyard.
A couple of weeks ago, I harvested my first bunch of radishes - Cherry Belles and French Breakfast. As with the first harvest, many of them only got a quick rinse and were eaten directly from the radish top, enjoying the crisp, fresh flavor. But with subsequent weeks, I will save them to be sliced up in salads, grated and added to slaws for a peppery bite.
For those of you who like to get every last bit of usefulness out of your garden, there are even recipes for using the radish greens, though I can’t admit to doing anything but adding them to the compost pile:
Radish Top Soup
6 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onions or leeks
8 cups loosely packed radish leaves
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
6 cups liquid (water, chicken stock)
1/2 cup cream (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan, add onions or leeks, and cook until golden, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in radish tops, cover pan, and cook over low heat until wilted, 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook potatoes until soft in liquid along with 1 teaspoon salt. Combine with radish tops and broth, and cook, covered, for 5 minutes to mingle flavors. Puree finely in a food processor. Add cream if desired. Season to taste with butter, salt and pepper.
So what is growing in your garden this spring? Or what are you looking forward to buying at the first week of the Montavilla Farmer’s Market?