How it grows on May 7, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

In the garden today, my garlic and onions are about knee high, the radishes are plumping up, and we should have our first taste of this season's crop of strawberries on or about... tomorrow! My mouth waters at the mere thought of it.

The first edibles from this year's garden turned out to be chives and mustard greens. We've been making good use of the chives; I love them on a baked or grilled potato or mixed into a potato salad.

Mustard Greens, Red Giant

The mustard greens are another story; those are taking a bit of getting used to. Eaten raw, they're so sharp and peppery that I can just about feel the optical nerves of my eyeballs tying into a knot in the back of my head, just before my sinus cavities get blasted out. It sounds like I'm exaggerating, I know, but really, these greens pack a punch -- almost like horseradish -- and they have that kind of effect on me. I've found that cooking the leaves tames the spiciness, and that's the way I prefer to eat them. I usually chop a few leaves, boil them in water for a few minutes, and then stir them into pasta. They're good that way.

Culinary qualities aside, I've discovered that the Red Giant mustard greens make a beautiful visual addition to the garden in the early spring when not much else is going on. I planted these from seed in my community garden plot last July, transplanted them to our new home last October, and they really started taking off in February. Now they're bolting to seed, which I plan to collect for a new crop of mustards in the fall.


Blogger Brie Dodson said...

Ahh, mustard greens. I can clearly recall being punished in first grade for insisting that mustard was not only a condiment, but also a plant. ;-) I lived in an East Texas college town where my family had moved after owning a house with a large garden. The student teacher who punished me came from Dallas and had evidently never seen a mustard seed, plant, or green in her life. Sorry to say my punishment stood.

Mustard greens will taste pretty darn good if you just keep cooking them. Get a couple of pieces of bacon going, and wilt some onions. Then put in the mustard greens, maybe also a ham hock if you have one (in which case forget the bacon - wilt the onions in saved bacon grease instead) and don't worry about how long the pot stays on the stove. Everything will smooth out. ;-)

Mustard greens are still nothing like turnip greens, though. I do hope you are growing turnips! (And will try a few of them raw - when they are small and young, they taste wonderful.)

8:57 PM  
Blogger Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

I love my mustard, but my kids won't eat it. They do love the less spicy swiss chard.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Carol Michel said...

Your garden sounds like it is really taking off. Strawberries already?

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

7:24 AM  
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8:11 AM  
Blogger lawremc said...

I'm with Brie. Mustard greens are definitely enhanced with cooking with some type of pork. At our house we always combine mustard greens with turnips to add some zip to them.

Next year---watch out for several pests that love mustard greens but will attach other veggies as well. Check out this on vegetable weevils from my colleague's blog (Heart of Dixie Gardener)
Those weevils had hosted on collards and turnips from last fall and were wiping out new tomato transplants this spring.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try the mustard greens on a roast beef sandwich with provolone. YUM!

Chives were my first edibles also. But my strawberries are just beginning to flower.

Your beds looks great. Makes me want to go home and clean up my garden. :)

12:15 PM  
Blogger David (Snappy) said...

Cool,I have Mustard Greens growing and I wandered how to eat them.I picked off some baby leaves today and they have a lovely taste.I thought they would be lettuce like, but their flavour is quite distinct.I made Cat try some too.You're Strawberrys look yummy.I only have a few flowers on my plants.Roll on July!

6:11 PM  
Blogger Ed Bruske said...

Good for you, Christa, collecting the seed. I may be that far along next year.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Tira said...

I love the baby mustard greens mixed in salads, they are also great in fresh, not fried (what Americans call Vietnamese style) spring rolls.
Well the sinus clearing is a good thing, there are studies that suggest the rise in cancers and other ailments in the West are partly because with wealth we have moved away from bitter and pungent tasting vegetables to only sweet tasting fruits and vegetables.
When I was a child in Trinidad cancer was very uncommon among the Indian population, who then ate lots of mustard greens, Asian radish (mooli), bitter melon, chili, tumeric etc. I actually didn't like those vegetables as a child, but now they are a delicacy among adults.

5:17 AM  

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