Last weekend I did my annual Memorial Day phenology photo shoot in the garden. Phenology is the science of tracking when, for example, the daffodils first bloom in a certain location. It’s becoming a very important science for documenting climate change.
Beginning gardeners are often disappointed by how long it takes to finally have something to eat — tomatoes and peppers don’t produce much until late July, if you’re lucky. So what are some things we can grow that will give us early eats? Look to edible perennials in the landscape, my friends. Let’s take a tour of some of the goodness we’re already enjoying in late May in Minnesota.
Asparagus and strawberries. The asparagus seeded out a couple weeks ago — the plants are finally mature enough that next year we should be able to harvest some. Boy, it’s been a long wait. Strawberries should be ripe in 7-10 days, and new anti-rabbit netting seems to be helping.
Dill. It’s needed thinning several times anyway, so I’ve been adding the tiny plants to salads and dressings. Dill is not technically a perennial, but it re-seeds itself. In great numbers. Plant it once and you’ll always have it. Everywhere.
Lettuce and radishes! YES! We need to eat these up as fast as we can because the forecast for this week is hot.
Left to right: oregano, garlic, and chives (dying tulips in the background). Chives were one of the first things that came up when the snow cleared out — we’ve been eating them since late April. I’ve also dried some oregano. Garlic scapes will pop up in the next two weeks.
Chive flowers, which are also an interesting addition to salads. I prefer to eat them before they open, though. It’s a texture issue.
The kids with their first harvest of lettuce and radishes from their gardens (in the background). I’ve read that involving kids with gardening can encourage them to eat more vegetables, but seeing it with my own eyes has been freaking awesome. My almost-4-year-olds, picking radishes, brushing off the dirt, and eating them while jumping on their trampolines. Strange but fun.