Maybe we did need need to wear scarves and layers of wool to keep warm while planting Cornelian cherry and hawthorn trees on this mid-May day, but the asparagus is undeterred.
These purple-topped little darlings were planted from crowns buried in a deep furrow last spring. As tempting as they may be, the experts say to wait until the third year of growth to begin harvesting. So wait we will.
Asparagus isn’t the only perennial vegetation in the food pantry garden. The yarrow seems as pleased as can be to have taken up residence near a dwarf apple tree.
These elegant feathery leaves of Achillea millefolium grace lawns, fields and road sides and there’s good reason to invite this plant into gardens of all sorts. A poultice of the leaves stops bleeding, a time honored use of a plant that lives up to its common names including herbal militaris, soldier’s wound wort, nosebleed plant, and sanguinary. The bitter flowers aid digestion, ease cramping, allay fevers, and tame inflammation. Those flowers start to bloom in early to mid-summer and can stick around through late autumn. They attract the fascinating parasitic wasps who lay their eggs inside common garden troublemakers like cabbage worms and aphids. As the eggs hatch, they eat their prey from the inside out, incidentally ridding the gardener of some of their troubles.
French garden sorrel has returned as well.
Tart and tasty, this perennial green owes its tanginess in part to high concentrations of oxalic acid, the same stuff that makes beet greens and Swiss chard leave your teeth feeling funny. A smidgen added to salads is tasty, and cooking this green into a verdant soup dramatically reduces its oxalic acid content.
Oh and the garlic, of course, the garlic.
It seems to know what it’s doing. Mulched liberally with Herb McPhail’s generously donated old hay, it makes the garden feel alive even on the chilliest days.