The trees still have no leaves, and some nights are still cold, close to freezing. The last of the snow has only recently melted, and in some areas there is still frost in the ground.
Crocus flowers are coming into bloom, and daffodils will soon follow. Even with these signs of spring it’s too early by weeks or months for garden veggies to be ready to eat.
But, there are a few things out there in the garden that are ready for eating now. And those are:
Chives. Only a few inches tall, they can be cut near to the ground, and new growth will soon follow. Finely chopped, chives are perfect to sprinkle onto green salads, omelets, sandwiches, stews, soups, and so on for fresh spring green color and some nutritional enhancement. They are perennial plants, and once planted will serve you for entire growing seasons for many years.
Perennial onions. As soon as the green tops start growing they can be harvested. If your crop is small, pick sparingly so that some of them can go to seed and renew the patch. Slice thinly, using the white bulb and all of the green top. The root end can be tucked back into the dirt in case it might like to grow a new top. Use perennial onions the same as chives, sprinkled on just about any entree or salad. They can be cooked; if you run out of the bulb type of onion, they are a fine substitute.
Upland cress. Upland cress has a wonderful and vibrant peppery flavor and can be grown like a weed. We let them seed themselves around the edges of garden rows, and throughout the salad garden. Pick a few leaves from each plant and mince them using a chef'’s knife. Upland cress is a delightful addition to a salad or a sandwich, and can be sprinkled on other foods as well.
Parsnips are another springtime food, pickable as soon as the frost lets go of them. Roasted whole, or cut into matchsticks and sautéed in butter, they have a wonderful and unique flavor and are a true sign of spring. Parsnips are a long-season grower. Plant seeds in late spring and leave the plants in the ground all through winter. If allowed to go to seed, they will self seed prolifically.
The earliest harvestables are a true joy after a long winter of relying on stored and supermarket fare. They are welcome additions to the leafy greens in the cold frames. -jmm