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Harvest Monday – April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011

It’s been a week for salads – I’m getting a pretty steady supply from the windowsills now. I finished up the what I hope will be the last head of store-bought lettuce on Wednesday, spiced up with herbs and arugula from the balcony.

chives, parsley, bog sage, trailing rosemary, small-leaf basil, arugula

The chives, arugula and part of the parsley went into the salad, the rest of the parsley, the basil, the rosemary and sage into the pasta sauce.

On Thursday, back to homegrown salad:

On Friday, I picked some dandelion leaves at the teeny-tiny village train station (gotta love train stations that are nothing more than a bike rack, a shelter to wait in, one gravel platform and a grass-and-wildflower-covered slope!)

and also tossed them in a salad. It brought back childhood memories, because dandelion was the second wildflower I learned was edible (after daisies), and when I was in primary school, I often picked some in the yard and told my mother to make me a salad with them. I found I don’t really like dandelion, though.

I also picked some more strawberry leaves for my berry-leaf herbal tea – the strawberry patch has to be my favourite part about the teeny-tiny village train station!

On Saturday, I did not have a salad for a change. Instead I picked some chickweed (Stellaria media) around the bike rack at my small-town train station. I’d forgotten to put my plastic bags back into my rucksack on Friday, after unpacking the dandelions and strawberry leaves (I originally put them in so I wouldn’t always have to get new bags when buying vegetables or fruit at the store, but they now do double duty as gathering bags and gloves for picking nettles.), so I had to drop the chickweed directly into my bike basket. I wonder what people thought of the basket full of ‘weeds’ when I left it on my bike while I dashed into the store for some milk and butter…

Cleaning all this chickweed (150g after cleaning – before, it was almost 200g) took quite some time, but actually cooking it was quick – I chopped and sautéed a small onion, tossed in the washed and roughly chopped chickweed and a ridiculous amount of garlic (I love garlic!) and let it cook while I fried eggs and potatoes, stirred in a spoonful of Crème fraiche and a bit of salt, and sat down to eat:

There was actually twice as much of the chickweed - I just couldn't fit it all on the plate!

Fried eggs, potatoes and spinach was one of our regular meals when I was growing up. I never understood why other children hated spinach – I always liked it. It was only after I’d eaten fresh spinach that I realized the frozen cream spinach actually looks extremely disgusting, and doesn’t taste that great, either. And fresh spinach is hard to get – probably also expensive, but I haven’t seen any since I started buying my own groceries, and thus paying attention to the price, so I don’t know. Not that it matters – whatever it costs, chickweed is cheaper! And it tastes good, too.

And it always makes me laugh, remembering a story from my childhood – when I was little, just learning to talk, we lived in a tiny house with a garden, with chickweed growing in it. We didn’t know it was edible, then, or even what it was called – so I dubbed it ‘edge sardine’! The ‘edge’ came from the fact that it grew along the edges of the vegetable beds, but ‘sardine’?! No-one knows why… probably I’d just heard the word somewhere and liked it, without knowing what it meant.

That name stuck around for a long time – even after I’d learned to talk properly, even after I’d learned to read, read plant books and learned the proper name, whenever I mentioned chickweed to my parents (who don’t know nearly as many plants as me – I was frequently the one to teach them names instead of the other way round!), I’d add, ‘you know, the edge sardines.’

Anyway.

On Sunday, my mother and the Clown Brother came over for lunch. I hid a couple of eggs for them, as the Clown Brother still gets a kick out of finding them, then we had eggs, bread with butter and garden cress, radishes and a large bowl of salad for lunch:

Yummy salad – with homegrown lettuce, arugula, chives, parsley, basil and viola flowers. I’d meant to add nasturtium leaves, too, but forgot about them.

Bread with cress:

Radishes:

Did you know radishes wear funny hats?

Trying to sum up what I’ve harvested and foraged so far this year, trying to figure out how much money I’ve saved so far… doesn’t always work, because I don’t always know what things cost at the store. If I don’t know the price, it is because I’ve never bought it yet.

Lettuce: the equivalent of about 1.5 heads – money saved: € 1.60

Radishes: the equivalent of one bundle – money saved: € 0.80

Chickweed: about 300g

Dandelions: one handful

Garden cress: lots! – money saved: at least € 7.90

Chives: the equivalent of at least 3 bundles

Parsley: the equivalent of at least 3 bundles

Arugula: four handfuls

Other herbs: lots of rosemary, some thyme and bog sage – can’t be bought fresh at the store

Dandelions: one handful

Tea herbs for drying: the equivalent of one box of teabags– money saved: € 3.00

Tea herbs for fresh use: the equivalent of one box of teabags – money saved: € 3.00

Total: € 16.30 plus the stuff I don’t know prices for – must check the next time I go shopping!

Oh, and does it count as a harvest if some of the houseplants I grow were big enough to sell? Because in that case, I also ‘harvested’ three Begonia corallinas, four Begonia boweraes and one Aloe vera.

***

Well, this has turned into a rather monstrously long post – but it’s just so exciting to be growing my own food again! Even if I still don’t have a garden, just having my own balcony to clutter up with veggies and herbs is so great!

Head over to ‘Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other people are harvesting!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2011 23:05

    I didn’t realize that chickweed was edible until this year. I have to say it’s not my favorite green. Maybe because I always saw it as a pesky weed. We like garlic here too – the more the better. You have a lovely mix edibles harvested!

    • April 26, 2011 20:35

      I’ve known about it for a while, but never got around to trying it until this year. I’ve tried some other stuff, to0, but chickweed is the only one I liked. Ground elder, for example, is far too celery-ish for my taste. 😉

  2. April 26, 2011 06:11

    Beautiful salad you have there.

  3. April 26, 2011 15:05

    I grew up loving spinach too. But it was the frozen from the store kind. Not the creamed stuff, I’m not a fan of creamed spinach. But then my two favorite veggies were spinach and brussels sprouts. Those are normally reviled by kids. I guess I’m just strange. I still don’t like cauliflower though. I’ll stick to broccoli (which I hated as a kid, but love now).

    Beautiful and lovely harvests. It reminds me that I don’t have my johnny-jump-ups in this garden yet. I’ll have to plant some as I loved having their pretty little flowers all over the place. And good for salads too.

    • April 26, 2011 20:37

      Brussels sprouts were also among my favourites – we didn’t get them often, though.

  4. April 26, 2011 21:30

    You really harvested a lot from a train station and a balcony! And saved quite some money – congratulations. I tried chickweed (raw), but didn’t like it. Now I’m searching for some purslane, have you ever tried it? Greetings from a fellow Austrian!

    • April 26, 2011 22:29

      No, haven’t gotten around to trying purslane yet – I only found out it’s edible after my parents sold their house and garden, which had lots of purslane. And now I don’t know any places it’s growing.
      And yay for fellow Austrians! And also a balcony gardener, I see! I’d ask where you’re from, but since I’m not planning to post where I’m from, I won’t. 🙂

  5. April 28, 2011 16:52

    Looks like you had a great lunch.

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