Beta vulgaris of the Chenopodiaceae family is a descendant of Sea Beet from the Mediterranean coast. It self-seeds in my garden with gay abandon and when they first pop their heads up, the baby red rainbow chard plants are as cute as a button. They are tough, grow quickly and look wonderful in rows in my veggie patch. The leaves are also quite delicious and full of million nutrients.
I found a bucket of old seeds in the shed. When I say old, I mean pushing a decade. But I’m an optimist, so I planted anything that should be planted in autumn, whispered an incantation over the veggie patch and crossed my fingers. The optimist in my failed to note what I planted where (thinking I would remember), thus several weeks later I’ve no idea what is in there. I think the first to raise their little green heads above the soil is a colony of dill, but only time will tell if that is correct. I’m ever hopeful that more tiny vegetables will emerge in the coming weeks.
The season is a strange one this year on many levels. The tomatoes are late and not very prolific, but the ones I have managed to coax into existence are quite delicious. Sweet, juicy, and zingy, the little red orbs hang like jewels from the dying branches. They shout their tiny victory over the weather in aesthetic defiance.
I pulled another giant broccoli plant from the veggie patch and launched it into the chicken yard this afternoon. There’s not a lot of green left in their domain and so I guess it’s not surprising that the chickens were happy to get a big plant, but it’s remarkable how enthusiastically they gobble up the leaves of brassicas, tails in the air and making happy chicken noises all the while.
These bright orange flowers going crazy in my veggie patch make me happy every time I look our the back windows. They seem to like the dreary weather. Perhaps they know that look even more bright and colourful when skies are grey. I think it is calendula, which has the added bonus of being edible. Calendula officinalis is commonly known as pot marigold and poor man’s saffron. You can throw it in a salad or rice or butter for colour and a little extra flavour or put it in a pot to make anti-inflammatory tea.
How does something giant manage to hide in the veggie patch? I did a little weeding and discovered the giant rhubarb in the corner, quietly pushing its inch-thick stalks skyward, the enormous leaves flapping gently on the ends. The new growth is incredible – a compressed mass of verdant energy ready to explode in slow motion, gently but persistently, into the world. I foresee rhubarb tarts in the making.