Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DST Anyone? No? Me neither!

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s Market,  As you may well know daylight savings time went into effect at 2:00am on Sunday and it is a source of considerable irritation to pretty much everyone. What you don’t know is that it is a myth that it helped farmers use more daylight to perform their tasks. This myth comes from the idea that by getting up earlier somehow you’re getting extra daytime when in fact the number of hours in a given day is give or take the same with adjustments for winter/summer seasons. It’s clearly as much a myth as the old world war two myth that carrots help your eyesight. For note the carrots myth was created by the British military as misinformation to fool the axis powers into not noticing that the British were using radar to find targets. I’ll go out on a limb and say that daylight savings time should be dumped as it literally serves no purpose and any real energy use savings are so tiny that it can’t even be touted as an ecologically useful yearly habit.

But of course this LITFM episode is not about the uselessness of DST, but rather we have a continuing topic of edible weeds, and a rare picture and as if that were not enough we also have a picture of what will be coming to market soon.  But first the main topic, todays subject is a weed that I would imagine everyone who reads this has seen and is very familiar with. It only emerges in the spring and fall once the temperatures tend to top off at about 50-60 degrees and can survive frosts, and winter weather with ease. If you go out and look at any recently disturbed patch of soil or in your planters it is surely growing there.  “Ok so what is this edible weed?” you no doubt want to ask. Well look below for a example

Stellaria media – Common Chickweed
This common garden plant is considered an annual, as it only persists in the cold season but falls apart rapidly during the warm seasons.  There are a few species of chickweed out there with varied edibility standards so this information only pertains to common chickweed.  Common chickweed can be eaten simply by picking the small leaves for use in salad in any amount. The foliage is mild in taste and can be used to effectively counter-balance more pungent leaf greens.  As a pot herb, you would want to cook this one more gently then something like spinach, usually 2-5 minutes at a full boil will suffice and common flavoring additives it needs are butter, a bit of your preferred spices and salt and some chopped onion. Fortunately chickweed has no known poisonous lookalikes, and the entire grouping of true chickweed plants. For note the chickweeds are in the Caryophyllaceae family which is best known for its most famous species the Carnations.

Asarum virginicum - Heartleaf Wild Ginger
This leads to the current photograph of note the flower pictured above is from a perennial cutting of a Wild Ginger plant. Wild gingers are a true wild flower that you plant in a partial-to almost full shade area with decent moisture and forget about. But before you say it, it is not the flower that makes this species special but the evergreen variegated leaves. The leaves are an intense deep green with a silvery-white heart-shaped variegation. Overall a group of these plants forms a nice ground cover that is both exotic looking and well-behaved. It should be said that the wild gingers resemble hardy cyclamen until the bloom and for several months I had the pictures specimen mislabeled until it bloomed just this week. I know the bloom isn’t exactly a show-stopper but it is interesting, and it serves as a biology lesson because you have to ask just what sort of pollinator this flower is intended to attract. My bet is on a beetle or ants as the flowers are very low to the ground and may resemble carrion.

 I get that the angle of this shot is odd but you can see all the current spring crops at once.
We at LITFM are pleased to announce the first spring crops for the market; some of them will be familiar to you, Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce, Rouge D’hiver Romaine, Lacinato/Dinosaur Kale, Rosso Di Chioggia Radicchio and, Northern Lights Swiss Chard. In the background you can see the seed starting kits and in them is some good stuff, exotic salad greens and snow peas so sit tight, more of the good stuff is yet to come. Barring bad weather this weekend I plan to bring some of the above listed cold-season crops to market due to your requests. For note most of them were moved up from the cell packs I started them in roughly a week ago.
For those who have not heard, the Fayetteville City Market occurs on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM, in all but the absolute worst weather. The market is located on 325 Franklin Street in the front and rear parking lot of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The market is a year-round affair unofficially but our official season kicks off in April so stay tuned for the announcement of the market’s big spring celebration. Either way we’re open for business.

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