May 2014: here’s what’s growing

The first week of May in Spokane  (USDA zone 5 and sometimes 4) might not seem a great time for foraging in the garden.

Not so!

Cold season greens are plentiful and delicious–more so than in the hotter months in fact.  If you want to sample some, here is how to go about it.


A bit earlier this year I started some vegetables in the cold frames located near the chicken coop by the Odell House garage.


This is the one by the porch.  To the center left is a plant I planted and promptly forgot what it was.  The leaves are delicious, and I got a clue from a Japanese guest who looked at it and said “Turnip”

Yes, it is Hinona Kabu, described by the Kitazawa Seed Company

“A unique, long, thin, mild-flavored turnip that has a red top, and the bottom two thirds are white. It measures 1.5″ wide and up to 12” long. This traditional Japanese vegetable or dento yasai originated in the Shiga prefecture in the 1470’s. Used to make sakura zuke or cherry blossom pickle.

Other sources say its greens are delicious, (which they are) and we may get some of these:


IF I quit treating it like mustard greens. . .

In the meantime, as I drastically over crowded it:


Pulling some up by the roots and using it young would be just fine.  Good in eggs.

(I went out and pulled one up (instead of molesting the leaves as I had been doing,) and darned if it isn’t developing into a miniature pink and white turnip, which tastes–in this case and age–a lot like a mild radish–who knew?)

Another Kitazawa offering which I really like is also located in the opposite cold frame–and in the straw bale garden.


Early Mibuna–spinach mustard.  This is a “cut and come again” crop.  You just snip it off an inch or so from the base and it regrows.  Help yourself.

“This traditional Japanese green vegetable, dento yasai, is cultivated in Mibu, Kyoto prefecture. An early open pollinated variety, this vigorous grower produces a dense cluster of long, narrow, rounded, dark green leaves. The delicious leaves have a mild mustard flavor. Cut for baby leaves as early as 21 days. This variety is cold tolerant. It is very similar to mizuna green.”

Planted toward the rear of this box are Kyoto Red carrots–they won’t be ready for a while.

Another great leaf vegetable is Upland Cress and I like it so much I have multiple spots planted.


Here with a new group of chives between patches and onions in the foreground for later.

A good description from the blog
“For the simplest preparation, use upland cress the same way you would watercress. Left raw, the leaves can be chopped and mixed into a sald, tucked into a sandwich, or strewn over broiled fish as a garnish. Use a food processor to blend a handful of upland cress with a cup of Greek yogurt and a garlic clove or two for a lively accompaniment to grilled meats (I also love this as a spread on turkey sandwiches). Take note that the green’s spicy bite may be too much for those with a more delicate palate.)”


It is also “cut and come again” you just snip some off–it really is spicy sort of like horseradish.  Good in eggs.

And here is one you’ll recognize.


Swiss chard. This variety either rainbow or peppermint–though it does not taste like that for sure.  You harvest it by plucking off leaves at the base, leaving the plant four or five to keep going.  Good in eggs.


Here is another offering you’ll find familiar–and one that I have almost (almost) quit growing as other greens are so much more productive.  Spinach.


You can see it in the foreground in front of more chard.  It is also harvested by breaking off individual leaves.

And last, over by the driveway off Poplar Street, there are some strawberries planted (long way off producing anything) with some cold season Cole.   (Purchased as starts from Blue Moon and called “Oriental Cole.”)  Its leaves taste a lot like Napa Cabbage–and guess what?  Also good in eggs



Outside the cold frames and bales there is a large patch of Oregano to the left of the hose coupling on the west face of the house.


Just to the right (out of view) is a stand of chives.  You guesses it, a fine additive to eggs. . . .

We use no chemicals in the yard or garden but compost, organic lawn food or fish emulsion fertilizer.  As always, wash your produce–but really feel free to help yourselves.

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