13 June 2010

In the Kitchen Garden, Part 3: Cycling

Onion in early flower, June 2010

I go out into my friend's kitchen garden several times a day to water or to gather herbs or greens to add to a dish, and have to go back inside for my camera because I keep seeing something new to photograph. It is a rather small space and is geared mostly to late-winter and early-spring produce, yet the life that carries on in there is quite lively, all the more so when viewed up close. The onion flower above burst out of its papery cocoon during my visit last weekend, and this weekend some of the tiny (1/4-inch) flowers have begun to open.

The gone-to-seed chard plant at left (top) seems to be home to many ladybugs, and the cilantro plant below, one of many I also photographed last weekend, is beginning to "fruit" and will soon bear ripe, fragrant coriander seeds. I can almost smell the yummy hand-ground curry that's sure to come; as for the rest of the herbs and greens going to seed -- chard, kale, spinach, and lettuce -- they will reseed themselves and provide a wonderful fall-winter crop of fresh greens just when everything else has wound down or frozen. I do have my own (very) small kitchen garden; I had to start from scratch two years ago but now have some really nice sage, rosemary, and mint stands that have withstood two rough winters, along with some perpetually reseeding cilantro. This spring I've added thyme, oregano, lemon balm, and lavender (perennials) along with basil (annual, but I hope it reseeds itself like the cilantro does). Greens are currently out of reach, however, because I have no woodworking skills to make the requisite cold frames, which are a big part of what makes my friend's kitchen garden so prolific for all but the very coldest six weeks of winter. This winter, though, I see more green in my future...

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