Thursday August 21, 2014

Garden walk hints at spring arrival


I think we can start believing that spring has arrived! How welcome it is to be able to see patches of grass appearing in our yards! I took a solitary stroll through the garden the other day, not the same walk anymore without Toby checking the signs of spring with me. But still, it did my sad heart good to see that spring is marching closer; the air smells different now, and I could even see the green bergenia leaves and Jacob’s ladder in the perennial patch!  Spring will be so good for all of us!

Remember how you and I made a pact that we would try new fresh fruits or veggies when we go shopping? I’d like to tell you about something we bought recently: not something new, but something that we haven’t bought in ages.  And what a delight it was! Head into the produce aisle where the cabbage is, and look for napa cabbage.

Have you ever tried it? Napa cabbage is a member of the brassica family which includes all those flavorful, delicious and healthy plants like regular cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. I did a little homework, and I read that napa cabbage is also called “celery cabbage”, but I have also seen it labelled “Chinese cabbage”. It is similar in color to regular cabbage, but the head is more oblong in shape, and the leaves are much softer and less densely packed than regular cabbage.

The name “celery cabbage” is very appropriate, because the flavor of napa cabbage is mild and crunchy. It is a staple ingredient in Asian cooking. Mom always used to make delicious slaw with napa cabbage, and when I prepared it the other day; I made a variation of waldorf salad, omitting the celery and grapes and using napa cabbage, apple, and walnuts with mayonnaise. It was yummy! You can also shred it finely and toss it into soups or stews, or make a type of spring roll using the leaves. You’ll find that whether you use it in salads or hot dishes, it is a tasty vegetable you will want to add to your kitchen repertoire. Give it a try!

As gardeners, we can grow napa cabbage in our gardens. I was looking in one of the seed catalogues and I saw a variety called “Minuet” which is listed at 48 days.  There were no planting instructions but I would guess that we would grow it the same way as regular cabbage. We can start the seeds indoors; I read somewhere that a good guideline is to plant them out when they have three leaves, and danger of severe frost is past.  Brassicas like cooler temperatures, so they are not as delicate as some other transplants.

Remember, gardeners, that the next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street.  Our special guest will be Karen Leis talking to us about vermiculture and composting with worms.  I know it will be an interesting and educational evening: please join us!  But please note the date, Thursday, April 24.  

I found a quote from a poet named May Sarton; though I am unfamiliar with her work, I love this quote that she said about gardening: “Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.” To me it reflects not only truth about actual gardening, but also speaks of the healing quality for our spirits as we work with plants and watch things grow.

Keith and I wish you a blessed, joyful Easter: may this time of new life bring peace and happiness to your heart!



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