I love April because the spring bulbs are blooming – first snowdrops, then the blue scilla and crocuses, followed by the yellow daffodils, and finally the multicolored tulips. You can’t eat them, but they sure give a lift to the heart after the bleak days to winter.
Joined to this riot of color at the ground level, the delicate red mist of the flowering swamp maples sweeps across the treetops in our neighborhood, followed by the greeny yellow of the weeping willows. Now the white blossoms of serviceberry and bush cherry are getting ready to pop.
In our vegetable garden, the kale plants that overwintered in the low hoop houses are rapidly leafing out (right). They survived despite subzero cold and being buried by heavy snows, which collapsed the hoops on their heads. Those plants are tough! This spring harvest of Russian Kale is our first big crop every year.
On Sunday afternoon, I harvested greens for my dinner. In addition to kale, I wandered around the yard picking shoots of chives, lovage, sorrel, nettles, dandelion leaves, ramps and a puny tatsoi plant that barely made it through the winter.
I also harvested a few horseradish leaves and added them to the mix. This horseradish is descended from the horseradish that my great-grandfather John Johnstone “Deacon” Greenough grew at his farm in Old Deerfield. He pickled and bottled it, and marketed it as Green-O Horseradish, with the motto, “A Sure Cure for Frivolity.”
What a tasty stir fry these spring greens made, sauteed in olive oil, with a drop of toasted sesame oil, a squirt of agave nectar, some tamari and a sprinkle of rice vinegar. I served the stir-fried greens in little walnut-sized mounds on top of crackers spread with the goat cheese I bought at the All Things Local market in Amherst. Delicious!
Another recent purchase at All Things Local was a bag of organic sweet potatoes. I cut these in half lengthwise and set them in shallow pans of potting soil. Lo and behold, after many failures at getting sweet potatoes to sprout, these guys have formed the beginnings of vines (as shown in photo). I hope to use these to grow some sweet potatoes of my own this year.
And speaking of plant propagation, I have many little horseradish plants coming up in the middle of one of our garden paths (shown in photo, with lovage in foreground). I would be happy to give you a plant to grow in some moist corner of your garden. Get in touch by making a comment and we’ll arrange a time to dig you up a horseradish plant.
Another of my great-grandfather’s marketing jingles went something like this:
If a boy likes a girl, that’s his business.
If a girl likes a boy, that’s her business.
If they both like horseradish, that’s my business!