The Greens of Spring

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bowl of Home Grown Color
...And so it begins. My favorite garden season followed by my most treasured garden season. Spring and summer are a delight for gardeners like myself. These seasons bring a bounty of delectable, mouthwatering, homegrown produce like what you see pictured to your right.

Every last morsel in that bright yellow bowl came straight from the raised beds in the Bird Back 40. It hasn't been amended with anything purchased at a Farmer's Market, or our nearby Safeway or Raleys/Bel-Air. Not that I'm a critic of our local produce suppliers. It's just that -- well -- when's the last time you purchased a purple radish the size of a golf ball or larger at your local store?

Selection of Radishes and Asparagus Spears
I'm fortunate in that the wife that is Venus can grow one mean and mighty radish. She can turn an ordinary French Breakfast radish into a French Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. One might think a radish this size would have the fine taste of wood. Nope....

This is prime fresh greens season in the Bird Back 40 -- though if this blast of heat keeps up it will probably end as quickly as it started. Lettuce tends to bolt -- and quickly -- when our famous Sacramento furnace heats up. So -- enjoy it while you can because the season will be gone before you know it.

2012 Lettuce Crop-Bird Back 40
We're fortunate this year in that the starter plants were delivered to use courtesy of the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. These starters were unlike anything I've seen before or since and have grown rapidly since Venus set them into the ground a little over a month ago. They have grown to the point where we can enjoy fresh greens and radishes nearly every night of the week.

The only thing that's missing? Why! Fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes of course!

Of all the varieties that we have growing in the Bird Back 40 this year -- I suppose I'm partial to the red leaf. It's unlike any red leaf lettuce I've ever seen before. Most lettuce varieties that are billed as "red leaf" have a touch of green in them -- usually at the base of each leaf. But not this variety. It's a straight, dark, wine-red, glossy color from start to finish.

Developing Head of Lettuce
I'm not sure if I'm sold on the look or taste, but both are darn good.

Home grown lettuce is unlike anything you're going to find in local stores. It's not packed with water like the standard, iceberg lettuce heads (my favorite for taco salad dishes). It's a little more dense. It's a little more dry. And it's a lot more tasty. You didn't think lettuce had a taste? Try home-grown lettuce. It's incredible.

I suppose the same is true with the radishes that are now spring from the soil with abundance. That round, red globe in the market produce section does indeed look like a radish. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the kind of snap-to-attention taste that a purple, pink or yellow Easter Egg radish has.

Venus' Used and Abused Salad Spinner
I suppose what I'm trying to tell you here is that this isn't just a salad. You can find an ordinary salad just about anywhere. Nope, this is better described as an experience. And our spring experience is just getting started, provided the blast-furnace of summer doesn't snap on a little too early.

It's spring. Time for a salad or two.