Fresh harvests of salad greens,herbs,scallions and even a few spears of asparagus have increasingly supplied our table from the unheated hoop house over the past few weeks. Spinach and lettuces planted in February and March now pump out new leaves for regular picking. Despite bolting early,the overwintered arugula and mache have still been tender enough to harvest repeatedly.
Daylight hours now compare in length to late August,offering the plants more light every day. As the plants form larger leaves,they collect even more solar energy so growth takes off exponentially. If you haven’t planted any of the cool weather crops yet,don’t wait. Get them in the ground now to take advantage of the long days and good growing conditions.
By now,you won’t need a hoop house or other plant protection gear to harvest from the garden. The hardiest perennial herbs and vegetables have now emerged —chives,lovage,sage,oregano, mint,multiplying onions —with new growth full of fresh flavor. If you managed to protect and overwinter the cold tolerant annual and biennial herbs like parsley,cilantro and chervil,their fresh new leaves make for good nibbling right in the garden and at the table,if you can get them there!
Then come the real treats of the season —the wild spring harvests. Wild leeks (ramps) top my list of favorites. Their relatively long harvest period overlaps with fiddleheads and the elusive morels that are not quite ready around here yet,but coming soon. As with all woodland edibles, take care not to over-harvest. A little here,a little there and a lot left behind. In clearings you can find dandelion greens and the small leaves and flowers of violets that add nice color and flavor to salads. If you’re unsure of what these plants look like,here’s a foraging site that can help.