About a year ago I took a couple evenings and replaced part of the confinement fence with several large cedar-and-metal troughs I made. The long-term plan was to have a place where we could grow things not allowed under our property restrictions. At the time, we were mid-way through a two-year spar with La Nina, a weather pattern of above-normal precipitation, below-normal temperature, and frequent lengthy crying jags. Once the planters were completed, they lay fallow for a few weeks until we planted them with flowers that struggled through a wet, almost sunless summer.
This spring, all forecasts predicted the breakup of the La Nina patterns and we planted the Hanging Gardens of Sammamish in late March: radishes, carrots, broccoli and celery. Cabbages, some spinach and some parsley, along with the Rainbow chard which somehow outwilled the long ugly winter. In mid-April we sowed about 56 sugar snap pea seeds, not for the peapods themselves but to shear the young vines, to be eaten sauteed like a green. If you have never had snap pea vines: YUM. Do this…though not if you’d prefer to have the pods.
In early May the local news media reported ‘La Nina is finally over!’ We Northwesterners emerged from multi-year hibernation in our regional uniform of shorts, polar fleece, and sandals with wool socks, and all promptly lost our sunglasses and damaged our mole-like rods and cones. After about three pretty nice weeks of springish weather, our vegetable ‘garden’ looked lush and potentially even prolific. Then we Re-Nina’d for a month (so far) and the first Vertical Farm was a neutral-ish success at best, sadly. The earliest radishes formed tough skins when overnight temperatures again dropped into the low forties, the cabbages developed too slowly, my wife forgot we planted celery and harvested the tops as parsley. Whoopadoo…but actually quite tasty. Note to self.
This is Spring Harvest Week, as temperatures are alleged to be turning toward warm and some of the slow starters, having skipped the being a vegetable part, are now beginning to bolt to flower and seed. The broccoli made several small but very sweet florets, which my daughter ate enthusiastically, and the later radishes remain tender and are so much fun to eat when Daddy says you only have to wipe them off on your shirt. The kale was a delicious and sophisticated bacon delivery system, and the actual parsley flavorful in a way it never is from the grocer. With warmer temperatures but only a few hours of direct sun, I am sure from here we will have better luck with flowers and foliage than summer vegetables, so the Aerial Forest Farm is closed for the season. Our other Spring Harvest was two Meyer lemons from the indoor tree I gave my wife for Valentine’s a year ago…I McGuyver’d them into two delicious cocktails, with which we drank a toast to the homesteading of our land, out of view of revenuers and regulators, and in cheerful memorial of the hundreds of slugs who dive into those little cups of cheap beer I have sunk into the soil below the gardens.
For the Official Spring Sandwich of A Thistle in my Sensitive Area you will need:
1 fresh, high quality baguette (Poilane if you are in Paris, freshly baked if you are not), several freshly harvested radishes (Cherry Belle, Rainbow, Watermelon, or Red Grocery Store do nicely) Butter (preferably European style, unsalted) Sea salt (ideally, Fleur de Sel, but NOT Morton’s table–too salty and no texture)
Slice your baguette, lengthwise. Generously butter both sides-this is a radish sandwich, so you don’t need to worry about calories or fat. Slice the radishes and lay in a visually appealing pattern on the bread. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Serve with a crisp, chilled Rose of Sancerre or similar dry spring-y rose, because even though I am generally the answer to Qui es muy macho, I still deserve nice things. Follow with a stick of Buffalo Pepperoni from Fischer Meats in Issaquah, because ‘Vegetarian Meal’ is just another name for ‘Side Dish.’ Enjoy!
All photos by Corene Caley, this time around!