The Glory of Dandelions

May 22, 2017

 

Now that warmth and sunshine are finally with us, everything is bursting into bloom and chores around the garden become more urgent.

 

Don’t wait to plant all vegetable seeds and seedlings, except beans, pumpkins and cucumbers, which benefit from warmer soil temperatures. The Farmer’s Almanac advises that beets, broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks, lettuce, onion, parsnip, peas, potatoes, radish, spinach, swiss chard, even tomatoes should all be planted by now. Just make sure to water morning and evening in warm weather to keep seedlings moist. Beets and carrots are especially susceptible to drying out.

 

I have already harvested some rhubarb, sorrel is in full leaf, excellent for sorrel soup, and for the first time ever I have tasted the glory of a delicious dandelion salad! Pick them small and young, discard the flowers and wash thoroughly. Mixed with a vinaigrette dressing (red wine vinegar with olive oil, salt and pepper) add garlic roasted for 40 minutes in the oven, heat in a small pan and pour over the dandelions with a little added goat cheese or gorganzola  – a feast fit for a king.

 

In my herb garden, I have planted nasturtium and zinnia, sunflowers, borage, coriander and dill (the latter two reseed year after year) as well as calendula to mix pretty, edible flowers with mesclun greens for stunningly beautiful summer salads.

 

I’ve also bought and planted tarragon, basil, lemongrass and mint in pots near the house, and have a thriving bunch of chives that reappear year after year. The wisteria on the terrace was pruned back to two buds on each branch in early April and I am hoping for a mass of bloom in the next couple of weeks. Most of the fruit trees are in bloom and most of the shrubs are showing signs of life – even the lilac that were pruned hard in the fall have persevered and leaves are now appearing on what I feared were dead branches, much to my relief!

 

Time also to top dress, with two inches of manure or compost, all those flower beds that also need weeding and a sprinkling of Pro-Gro fertilizer. For some of the best seedlings of both flowers and vegetables I highly recommend Stoneset Farm on the River Road in Brooklin (first left after crossing over the bridge from Sedgwick). Clara has a real talent for raising seedlings to a healthy size, without over-fertilizing and I am never disappointed. Open every Saturday and Sunday through June I suggest going soon for the best selection.

 

Julie Wang

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