Friday, April 15, 2011

Gone to Seed

Technically, the winter crops should all be out of the garden and the beds prepared for the summer crops that will soon be seeded or leafed out as seedlings in a greenhouse somewhere. Well, I'm not exactly there. Some summer crops and flowers - Brandywines, morning glories, cardinal climber, cucumbers, and calendula - are sun-bathing on our balcony even as I type, and working up their strength for a summer of fun at the farm or on our back balcony as a green curtain.

The beds, though, are not prepared. I struggle during each seasonal transition to remove plants from the garden that are technically still producing and healthy.The farmers encourage me to do so to ensure crops are started in a timely manner, and because they think about my garden like a miniature farm. I think about it like a garden, hence, the garden still houses a handful of winter vegetables: broccoli producing side shoots now; kale going like mad; hearty leaves of swiss chard; and mizuna and komatsuna nearly as tall as me and in flower.

And what magnificent blooms they are, I must say! Their scent is utterly extraordinary - reminiscent of lilacs but more subtle- and their bright yellow is charming. The farmer's shake their heads at me and passersby do a bit more than hint that these greens are too big to eat, but I still keep them. (The leaves and flowers are quite edible, actually, although the lower leaves aren't overly attractive.) Despite the pressure to remove them, what's got me really dragging my garden gloves is the sight of so many bees and insects working amongst them. I've never seen so many in my garden, and I'm delighted. I'm even considering planting more of these vegetables elsewhere and letting them go to seed to keep those pollinators happy. And to enjoy a few more small bites of some of our favorite greens in salads, too.


dragonwood said...

Yes! I love this Joan! I'm with you - I sacrifice the space to leave a few things to their full lifecycle. People shouldn't both be bemoaning the demise of the bees, and then disposing of and trimming away the flowers that could sustain them. Good for you. I also like saving my own seed, and seeing what comes up on its own from the plants I've left to their own devices. Love your blog, as always!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Many thanks, Dragonwood! One of my goals for this year (of a long list, of course) is to start learning to save my own seeds. I've really no idea what I'm doing, but that's never stopped me before. These blooms are about done, so I'll be able to clear the row shortly. I don't think the seed will be worth collecting, though, as I'm betting they're F-1's. A friend has told me of an heirloom seed company, so I'm going to see if I can track some of those down. Challenging but fun, I'm sure.