Garden Gifts...

I'm taking a break from recording my 1000 gifts during March and April, and might resume in May, although I'm not sure yet.  (Hoping to post a picture a day in the month of May...clever, huh?  Not my idea.)  The break comes mostly because I did not get the guide sheets printed in time, so by the 10th of the month when I had to backtrack and record over 30 gifts, I decided to wait.  Not that I couldn't actually COME UP with 30 gifts, mind you, but I AM a firstborn, and I DO tend towards methodical ways of doing things, and I would prefer to actually have the gifts remembered on each given day, and I COULD NOT remember back to each day to think of gifts for that particular day, thus...I decided to wait.  (Our Pastor spoke directly to ME from the pulpit recently...although no one else BUT ME knew, when he said as Presbyterians we often have the attitude of, "If I can't do it THE RIGHT way, I'm NOT going to do it AT ALL."  Ahem...does your Pastor ever speak directly to you?  Yeah...they think we don't realize they have ALL our houses and phones bugged... ;-))

I have however been taking a LOT more pictures lately (read = I need an external hard drive for the next gift-giving holiday!) and often they are of things that I see as gifts.  It's also fun to explore this world through the eyes of a 2 year old, which I try to do on a regular basis.  My neighbors could tell you that it is not uncommon to see me on the ground in my yard, often kneeling or lying down taking pictures of random plants and bugs.  But, then again, there's probably NOT a lot that surprises my neighbors anymore...

So anyway...onto the gifts -- I don't have a ton of time for blogging (read = that I'm willing to devote to blogging) lately, so this is a heavy picture post.  Feel free to step away from the computer for a few minutes (read = hours...days...) while they all load. :-)

Rosemary - used since 500 B.C., rosemary is native to the Mediterranean area (where it grows wild) but is now cultivated throughout Europe and the US.  This mint-family member's silver-green, needle-shaped leaves are highly aromatic and their flavor hints of both lemon and pine.

Chives - related to the onion and leek, this fragrant herb has slender, vivid green, hollow stems.  Chives have a mild onion flavor and are available fresh year-round.  Chives are a good source of vitamin A and also contain a fair amount of potassium and calcium.

Lavender - a relative of mint, this aromatic plant has violet flowers and green or pale gray leaves, both of which lend their bitter pungency to salads.  The leaves may also be used to make herb tea.

C discovered these and called me over to see -- you can imagine how delighted she was at such a tiny spider web.  Compared to the blades of grass and small clovers, you can get an idea of the size.

We acquired 3 rose bushes when we bought our house 5 years ago, and I know little more now than I did then with regard to growing them.  They do pretty well on their own, but I know I could help them do better.  I tend to focus more on the edible plants...the ones we LIKE to eat, that is.  I have been served a salad with rose petals in it and I did taste them.  Apparently, I need to start using epsom salt in my gardening...

Still working on convincing the rabbits that THIS is for them...

Summer squash are high in vitamins A and C as well as niacin.

Corn - the peak season for fresh corn is May through September.  As soon as it's picked, the corn's sugar immediately begins its gradual conversion to starch which, in turn, lessens the corn's natural sweetness.

Tomato - a member of the nightshade family, fruit of a vine native to South America.  Some tomato advocates claimed the fruit has aphrodisiac powers, and in fact, the French called them pommes d'amour, "love apples."  It wasn't until the 1900's that the tomato gained some measure of popularity in the US.  Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and contain appreciable amounts of vitamins A and B, potassium, iron and phosphorus.  

Spinach - originating in the Middle East, spinach was being grown in Spain during the 8th century, and the Spaniards are the ones who eventually brought it to the US.  It is a rich source of iron as well as of vitamins A and C

Lettuce - all lettuce is low calorie and most of it is rich in calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.  Keep in mind that the darker green leaves contain the most nutrients.

Strawberry - 16th century author William Butler wrote this tribute to the strawberry: "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did."  Red, juicy and conically shaped, the strawberry is a member of the rose family and has grown wild for centuries in both the Americas and Europe.  The Romans valued the fruit for its reputed therapeutic powers for everything from loose teeth to gastritis.  Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and also provide some potassium and iron.

Lettuce -- see above...

Green Bean - a long, slender green pod with small seeds inside, the entire pod is edible.  Green Beans have a fair amount of vitamins A and C.

Parsley - In ancient times parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness - though proof of their efficacy in that capacity is scarce.  Today, this slightly peppery, fresh-flavored herb is more commonly used as a flavoring and garnish.  Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Basil - called the "royal herb" by ancient Greeks, this annual is a member of the mint family.  Fresh basil has a pungent flavor that some describe as a cross between licorice and cloves.  It's a key herb in Mediterranean cooking, essential to the delicious Italian pesto, and is becoming more and more popular in American cuisine.  

 All of these most entertaining and educational blips can be found in one of my favorite food books EVER.  (And, just in case you were wondering, I think we're pretty well covered on getting our vitamins A and C.)
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Angie said...

Just saw on the news that the strawberries are in early this year at Scott's and they are the best they've been in years. Big, plump, and sweet!!! Know where I'm headed this weekend :)

brite said...

Beautiful plants, Mandi! I love seeing what's in your garden, and I'm a little jealous of your warm weather. We had snow today, so it was another day of covering the strawberries.

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