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What's ready for harvest in mid-April?What’s ready for harvest in mid-April?

Salad of mixed greens from hoop house

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. 

2 comments to What’s ready for harvest in mid-April?

  • Brad

    Hi Faith –

    Great blog! One topic I’ll be interested in,either here or a new blog entry at some point:once the greens start coming in from our CSA,what’s the best strategy for dealing with them and storing them? (Our unfortunate pattern is:get a bag of greens from the farm,jam it in the bottom of the fridge still in the bag,forget what’s in it,then remove it when it’s turned wilty and black.)

    I imagine there’s a better way? Any tips like:when to wash it? What kind of bags to store it in? Any pre-processing (cutting off stems etc) that makes storage and retrieval easier? If we had a procedure and supplies on hand (certain types of bags? with perforations?) then maybe we could discipline ourselves to take advantage of the fresh produce that is coming our way. Thanks for any tips!

    Brad

  • faith

    Good question,Brad! For salad greens like heads of lettuce or mixed baby greens,whether buying or harvesting in the garden,I recommend using a salad spinner both to wash and store the greens. As soon as I get them in the kitchen I fill the bowl of the spinner (or other large container) with fresh,cold water and wash the greens to both clean the leaves and refresh the still-living cells. Then transfer the leaves to the spinner basket and spin to remove the water.

    After the first spin,I usually toss the leaves around and spin again,emptying the water out of the bowl after each spin. Then I put the top back on and store the leaves in the spinner in fridge.The goal is to keep the leaves moist and aerated without water sitting on the leaves and rotting them. The basket in the spinner provides a near-ideal environment.

    If you have too little or too much to store in the spinner,here’s what you can do. After spinning,put the greens in a roomy plastic container or bag lined with a paper or cloth towel. The paper/cloth helps to provide an aerating barrier between the leaves and the plastic and keeps the greens in good condition whether the top is sealed tight or losely. The greens shown in the photo above were about 3 days old when I took the photo and were stored using this method.

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