Seeds, Round 1

We’ve learned firsthand that not all plants are long for this world (RIP basil & corn salad).  A couple of weeks ago, we transplanted our first crop of seedlings to the outdoor raised beds (minus the tomatoes, they remain inside til we’re sure it’s warm enough – per our research and all of our friends’ suggestions.)  This means that we pushed peas, hot peppers, bok choy, spinach, basil, mache verte, and radishes out of the nest.  Here are a bunch of them just before they went into the ground:

The planter furthest from the house we left most empty (for tomatoes) and put a row of basil on the end (because it makes sense to keep the tomato and the basil together, gastronomically speaking).  The middle planter got mache verte, baby bok choy, and spinach (in that order).  The planter closest to the house holds hot peppers and radishes (in the front) and a row of peas (in the back).

I’m sad to report that the mache verte and the basil did not make it 😦  Both wilted and disappeared (almost as if the plants had never been there).  The spinach is struggling.  The peppers are not flourishing, but they seem ok.  The peas are making a come-back.  And the baby bok choy and radishes are the real winners – they’re doing great!

4.28 radishes looking great:

4.28, questionable spinach:

4.28, baby bok choy:

Peas, peppers, 4.28:

So that is, in a nutshell, where the seeds from round 1 stand.

The tomatoes remain inside.  I’ve noticed that the Brandywine tomatoes seem to be having the hardest time – so we started a few more from seed a couple of weeks ago (just to be on the safe side).

The tomatoes:

Also outside, the cilantro.  The cilantro used to look like this:

And now looks like this (at the top – the smaller plants in the front are chammomile):

Lastly, the sunflowers… which used to look like this:

Now look like this!:

Also, the nasturtium, which I’d all but given up on… finally sprouted.  I must have planted them outside just over a month ago.  Just this week I FINALLY saw them emerge.  I had no idea flowers could take so long to sprout.  I’m really happy (they’re one of my favorite flowers!) that it looks like we’ll be seeing their happy orange faces in the space between our raised beds.  Success.

I planted these because they’re pretty… but it bears mentioning that they are another edible in the garden.  Oftentimes people find the bulk of the plant too bitter, and so stick with only the petals – but they can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen.

One website (www.herbalgardens.com) shared the following recipes:

Stuffed Nasturtium Flowers

Mix 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 2 Tablespoons finely minced chives or other herbs of your choice. Stuff the mixture into nasturtium flowers and place on a tray that has been lined with nasturtium leaves. Serve at room temperature.
Nasturtium Vinegar

1 cup nasturtium leaves, flowers, and buds

1 pint champagne or white wine vinegar

Place the ingredients in a clean clear glass jar or bottle. Tightly seal. Let sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Place a new nasturtium in the finished bottle for decoration, but you should make sure the vinegar always covers the flowers or they will mold. Makes 1 pint vinegar to use in salads, sauces and flavoring in other dishes.
Nasturtium Lemon Butter

This lovely butter has a mild lemon/pepper flavor and a colorful appearance. It is wonderful on fish, chicken and vegetables. This is also great on those small party breads, pumpernickel especially.

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened

1-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (according to taste)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons finely chopped nasturtium blossoms

Mix all of the ingredients well until smooth and well blended. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Makes 3/4 cup flavored butter.
Pickled Nasturtium Seeds

Use green nasturtium seeds, and in picking retain a short length of stem on each. Lay the seeds in cold salted water for two days (two tablespoons salt to one quart water), then place them in cold water for another day. Drain well and place the seeds in a glass jar, cover with vinegar heated to the boiling point, and close the jar tightly. In a few days the seeds will be ready to use. They are an excellent substitute for capers.

I’ve also seen them in stir fry, cooked with pasta, or used as a garnish in a variety of ways. (Particularly lovely: on top of a cupcake)

And then I stumbled upon this recipe for nasturtium mayonnaise (I wonder if the mayonnaise-only store that just opened in my old ‘hood is going to have this!…. yes, a mayo-only store… WTF).

Nasturtium Mayonnaise
makes 8 servings as a sauce for fish
T his recipe is the perfect compliment to chilled summer salmon, or any fish, fresh off the grill. Also makes a great spread for tea sandwiches, or any sandwich needing some zip.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. finely minced garlic
2 tsp. coarsely chopped capers
1/3 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. chopped nasturtium leaves

 

Combine all ingredients. Keep chilled until ready to use.

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Mâche “Verte de Cambrai”

This little leafy green was a little trickier to research than most.  It goes by many, many names (kind of like Val Kilmer in the last movie I can remember him in: “The Saint”):  Corn Salad aka Mâche Verte aka Mâche Verte a Coeur aka Lamb’s Lettuce aka Lamb’s Tongue aka probably several other things.  There are several varieties of this green, too.  Even just by looking at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I see three:  Corn Salad Dutch, Mâche Verte a Coeur, and Mâche Verte d’Etampes.  And wikipedia lists the following pseudonyms:  Lewiston cornsalad, lamb’s lettuce, fetticus, field salad, mâche, feldsalat, nut lettuce and rapunzel.

Nut Lettuce.

I ordered these seeds last fall, planning to plant them this year, not knowing what Corn Salad was.  I knew I wanted to grow a variety of greens in the garden, and the pictures on the seed packets looked lush, made the plant appear cute and compact, and described the plant as hearty and the flavor as nutty and mild.

Fast forward to March of this year when, dining at Blue Hill at Stone Barns for my brithday, I tasted Mâche for the first time – not knowing that I already had seeds at home, waiting to be planted.  They were served to us as part of our first course, which included several fresh vegetables from the garden, raw and lightly seasoned.  The Mâche was delicious.  The leaves were tender and tiny, yet somehow meaty and very soft.  The taste was mild, but flavorful and, across an 8-course tasting menu, the little Lamb’s Lettuce was stand-out and totally memorable.  I went home thinking “I have to grow this in the garden.”  When I finally started researching, I realized that I had already planned to.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns was an awesome place to eat just prior to starting up the garden for this season.  Before the meal, we were able to wander through their on-site greenhouse and visit some of their resident livestock (the pigs were huge!).  It was inspiring.  And the dishes celebrate the fresh, unadultered flavors of the ingredients – particularly the vegetables – and that really got me excited to grow and eat my own.


Of course, our little planters pale by comparison to the Stone Barns greenhouse (above), but it cannot hurt to dream.

And though I don’t want pigs (above), or certainly not pigs THIS big. I do still want goats. So, all in all, the Stone Barns people are living the life I want – more or less.

“Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pasture, as well as other local farms, Blue Hill at Stone Barns highlights the abundant resources of the Hudson Valley. There are no menus at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Instead, guests are presented with a list of over a hundred ingredients, updated daily, which contains the best offerings from the field and market.” –Blue Hill at Stone Barns

As for our own Mâche, we transplated four to the outdoor planters last weekend, of which I think one is going to make it.  Here he is:


But we direct sowed some seeds along with the transplants, so we’ll see if some of them take off outside – and we started another crop inside, just to cross our i’s and dot our t’s. Right now there is a second wave of corn salad seeds growing in our set-up:

It’s tough to say why they don’t seem to have survived the transplanting. Maybe the soil has been too dry (despite our best watering efforts), maybe they didn’t have enough light when they were just sprouts, maybe they weren’t acclimated to the cooler temperature enough… who knows? We are learning as we go and hopefully we’ll get some viable corn salad plants out of this when all is said and done.

Some more info. about Corn Salad (Lamb’s Lettuce!):

First, we will want to gather it before it flowers.

Second, it has  including three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, B9, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Corn salad was originally foraged by European peasants, but then the royal gardener of King Louis XIV, de la Quintinie got wind of it and decided that it was a food fit for everyone.

Corn salad grows wild in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.[5] In Europe and Asia it is a common weed in cultivated land and waste spaces. In North America it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized on both the eastern and western seaboards. – Wikipedia