All posts in category “In the Garden”

  • The Canadian Food Experience Project: Five garden weeds to put on your plate

    My garden is barely a postage stamp.

    Right now, it’s mostly a barren swath of soil, home to a clematis that keeps hitting the snooze button on the growing season and some early rising rhubarb that’s up but barely at ’em.

    I love it, though, for the gifts that it provides. Sure, I feel grateful when the herbs and vegetables I plant each year grow and thrive and reward me weeks and months later for what little effort I put into their upkeep.

    It’s the surprise gifts that I love more, though. The ones I don’t plant.

    The weeds.

    Yes, what other gardeners despise and work out the day’s frustrations by pulling, I take delight in letting grow. I don’t fret about these herbaceous squatters competing  with perennials who have seniority in my plot or annuals who lease prime real estate for a season. The reason is simple. Most of the weeds in my tiny plot are edible. They pack a health kick and more flavour than some of those invited guests we go to great lengths to make comfortable. I’m looking at you green leaf lettuce.

    Ever since the province imposed a cosmetic pesticide ban in 2008, lawns and gardens everywhere have become virtual salad bars. They’re filled with roots, leaves and blooms that had been all but banished from existence by those poison-carting tanker trucks  homeowners once hired to spray weeds into oblivion. And for that we should be grateful.

    Some food security advocates lobby for insect farming to feed the world. I say we should eat more weeds. They’re plentiful and effortless to grow, so why not take advantage of what’s on offer? Just forage for edible weeds where you know the ground isn’t contaminated (your backyard is a safe bet) and refer to a field guide to help you identify plants.

    Here are five common garden weeds that we should be putting on our plates instead of the compost heap:
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    Category In the Garden, In the Wild

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  • Peach Tree
  • Weeding and Eating: The Great Purslane Giveaway returns

    My name is Tiffany and I am a weedaholic.

    There’s a reason for that, not the least of which is they taste good. But when you’re purslane, not only are you pleasing to the palette, you’re super healthy, so the benefits of dining on this garden gift are seemingly endless.

    It is the misunderstood superfood, often landing in the compost heaps of annoyed gardeners when it should be landing on dinner plates, given it has more omega-3 fatty acids than just about any other edible plant. These are fatty acids that are good for heart health.

    Antioxidants? Purslane is packed with them. Vitamin A to help keep you seeing clearly? Purslane has nearly every other leafy green vegetable beat.
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    Category In the Garden, In the Wild

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  • Peach Tree
  • Saving basil seed: A Nufar-ious plot

    I’m really not trying to grow the most pathetic basil plant ever, despite what this looks like.

    I’m engaging in Operation: Saving Basil Seed. After all, my basil plant just spent the past two months providing me with the biggest, most pungent leaves I’ve ever seen, smelled and tasted.

    They were the star of pestos, the supporting actor in caprese salad, made cameos in roasted tomato sauce. And I want to harness that amazing-ness for seasons to come.

    My Nufar basil is actually brimming with life, even if it looks nearly drained of vitality. It’s packed into those brown, dried bits, in the form of seeds. Future generations of Nufar basil.

    It’s a variety of this quintessentially summer herb that I bought on an impulse, withholding hope for it only because I find basil a bit fickle to grow.

    It doesn’t grow because I water it too much. It doesn’t grow because I don’t water it enough. It turns to seed before barely giving me a leaf.

    Basil | Seed Saving

    But not Nufar basil, once bushy with leaves the size of my palm, and now picked to a lanky, lean shell of its former self. It kept growing all summer and giving me the best basil I’ve ever had.

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    Category In the Garden

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  • Peach Tree
  • A cup of sunshine: lemon verbena tea

    Lemon verbena.

    Herbs weren’t what I most looked forward to growing when I embarked on my summer of yard sharing.

    Tomatoes — lots of tomatoes — peppers, cucumbers and melons, those sun worshiping veggies that my shady, half a postage stamp of a yard eschews, were what I longed to harvest in my plot of sun-drenched borrowed earth.

    And while I’ve loved being able to head just down the road to pick a tomato whenever I’ve needed, wanted or was left no choice by Mother Nature but to harvest them, I’ve discovered it’s actually an herb I planted on whim that I love more this summer.

    It’s lemon verbena.

    Not much to look at, lemon verbena — I’ll call it LV — isn’t what you’d call a beauty. It’s appearance is pragmatic with those spiky green leaves. Perfect for photosynthesizing, not so much for admiring.

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    Category In the Garden, Uncategorized

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