Our Edible Landscape’s Response to COVID-19
Sheltering in place has been a time of quiet solitude and reflection for me. My precious 91-year-old mother is being cared for by the staff in her memory care facility and I’m not allowed to visit at this time. (We are so grateful for their compassion and the care she receives from each one of them). Our children and grandchildren send “face time” hugs and kisses but we are missing the warmth of their sweet touch.
For me, the one familiar and unchanging experience is time spent in the garden. Early in the morning, with clippers in hand and a basket in my arm, the gathering begins. Late winter and into spring we’ve seen record high amounts of rain followed by temperatures dipping into the 30’s then soaring up into the mid 90’s. Somehow, this unusual weather has blessed our plants with the nourishment needed to grow and flourish. The garden has graced with a bounty of flavorful herbs and greens.
Since the mid l980’s I’ve been smitten with herbs. Growing them is one of my simple pleasures. From sun to part sun, dappled shade to deep shade, over 20 different kinds of herbs make a seasonal appearance in my garden and in the edible landscape at Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills. A few of the evergreens stay throughout the year while perennials come and go as they choose. Annuals fill in the gaps with seasonal color and interesting flavors.
This year as we started the gentle transition of winter into spring, wonderful things began happening in the garden. Sleepy little lettuce plants opened their heads with delicate green foliage to use in our spring salads. French tarragon, Mexican mint marigold and Italian oregano made a colorful statement from their country of origin. Alliums grew by inches, almost daily. The garden was ready to embrace the season.
At Raincatcher’s garden and in my garden at home, I’ve been using the harvest of the season to create “bundles of joy” for my family and friends. Always careful to wear gloves and a face mask, if the garden is ready to share, I’m prepared to snip away. Look at each of these three bundles and see if you can identify the herbs and greens in each one. Everything you see is edible!
Note: These delightful little bundles should be shared with instructions to use soon after harvesting. Remember, leaves don’t like to be under water. So, keep everything fresh and snip from the top down.
Included are a few favorite recipes but here are some suggestions for using more herbs in your daily meal planning:
Nasturtiums: leaves for pesto and flowers for butter, cookies, jams, salads, and tea sandwiches
Borage: lovely blue blossoms as a garnish for cakes, salads and syrups
Rosemary: breads, cakes, cookies and soups
Arugula: leaves and blossoms in salads; leaves for pesto
Dill: breads, frittatas and fish
Calendula: flower petals for cornbread, cakes, cookies, quiche
Scented geraniums: leaves for flavoring sugar, cakes, flowers and leaves for whipped cream
Curly parsley: parsley soup (recipe included), salads
Fennel fronds: salads and soups
Spearmint: tea, lemonade, brownies and in watermelon salad
Salad burnet: creamy dips and salads
German chamomile blossoms: tea and garnish for cakes and cookies, syrups
Cutting celery: creamy dips and young, tender leaves in salads
Marjoram: Italian foods like lasagna and pasta dishes
French sorrel: soups and as a wrap for oven roasted salmon
Watercress: leaves and blossoms for salads
Lemon verbena: breads, cakes, custards, sorbets and in iced tea, water or lemonade
Thyme: butters, soups, cookies and gougers
And now for those recipes: