And my most favorite moment of gardening…
We’ve started peppers and eggplants (three varieties of each), Thai Red Roselle, ground cherries, red celery, blue hyssop, red cabbage and an herb called wild dagga (which we’ve grown before for ornamental value; it’s a great Halloween plant).
(Lupinus mutabilis) The Tarwi Lupine is another one of the “lost”foods of the Incas. Originally cultivated only in the high andes, Tarwi is a plant supremely adapted to the stress of high altitudes-it can take drought, cold and wind and still be very productive. Nowadays agronomists and gardeners are taking a look at Tarwi for growing in other places other than the high mountains. In Denmark and Northern Europe it is being trialed as a new pulse crop. The beautiful white seeds are choc full of fats and proteins. Tarwi has been cultivated/domesticated for probably close to 2000 years. The seeds themselves cannot just be eaten without a little simple preparation. The seeds contain alkaloids that are bitter, fortunately they are quite easy to remove just by soaking and rinsing them over a few days period. In the past this noble crop of the Andes was known only by the poor indigenous peoples, today thanks to modern systems for rinsing large quantities of seeds it is now a “chic” food of the Urban wealthy. Our own friend john Glavis is raising Tarwi with great success on the California coast north of San Francisco. The seeds offered here are from select Peruvian strains tracked down by Joe. They need a long growing season but really like cool weather too, so the Pacific Northwest coast is a great place to try them, everyone else could just give them a shot and save any seeds produced to select them to adapt to new climates. (from the Baker Creek website)
I’m largely showing these pictures to prove how simple it is to start a garden. Dirt in containers of your choosing (that long clear thing is a box that a poster came in!) and a few seed packets is all you need. Then put the cups in a windowsill that gets some sun, keep them moist and in a few days you will have little plants! We’ve advanced a bit from just a windowsill and now have a wooden box that can sit atop a dresser or desk and two grow lights clip onto it.
Our windows are pretty drafty so the extra heat from the grow lights is important when it is still pretty cold out.
For way more details and information about seed starting check out my glogging friend Maria at Sweet Domesticity for some Seed Starting Q & A!
Persimmons are best enjoyed just on the cusp of rotten. It is a fine, fine line, one that probably reflects why you do not see persimmons at the grocery store. Unripe, they are hideous and offensively inedible. Overripe they are, well, rotten. But just before rotten they have a complex orange flavor that is slightly medicinal and weirdly artificial-tasting. They taste exactly like those cheap plastic sleeves of flavored ice (the orange flavor).
Normally we taste a few and let the rest fall to the ground and rot (plus the deer eat them). In a perfect world, we’d make preserves and sauces and other delicacies with complex flavor profiles by adding some calyxes of roselle. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Persimmons have a higher calling. They are meteorologists.
The past few years we have enjoyed the tradition of cutting into a persimmon seed to see what the winter will be like. A fork means it will be a mild winter, a spoon means lots of snow and a knife means cold winter winds will blow.
I love winter, and snow is just so much fun and the more snow, the more wintering-garden pests will be killed off. I don’t really care what the weather will be in winter. Snow, no snow, cold, warm. It’s kind of like whatever, I’ll enjoy what I get. The weather changes drastically about every twelve hours in Missouri so I wouldn’t exactly buy a season pass to Hidden Valley on the sight of a spoon. I just think it is really fun to see the spoon, fork or knife (and we truly have seen all three!) in the persimmon seeds.
Note: If you do try and cut a persimmon seed be VERY careful. They are tough seeds so use a sharp knife and be very careful.
As for the upcoming 2014-2015 Winter? To be announced! The Spy collected a (specially chosen) persimmon seed for us to find out. Forecast coming soon!