Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It has begun!

Welcome back to the first spring episode of Lost In the Farmer’s Market. In case you missed the memo Friday is the first official day of spring, and with it the temperatures and weather should level out just a bit making gardening a bit easier. Today I’ve got the first surefire sign of spring in the test gardens. In our first photograph we have the first spring-blooming shrub at the test garden which is a rabbit eye Blueberry. Blueberries are some of the most reliable indicators of spring because they always bloom within the same time period regardless of how cold the winter was. Additionally rabbit eyes are more native to the region and thus once established are reliable and heavy producers of larger than average berries.

Let’s just say the pollinators are going to love this.

But with that talk of spring we have the spring weeds, and our main topic. In the last two episodes we spoke of weeds that were perfectly edible. This week the weed in question is the plant pictured below.

Henbit – lamium amplexicaule
For those of you out there who are plant Latin aficionados, the first name ‘Lamium’ means this plant is related to the dead nettles and by extension is a member of the mint family. It has square stems that are hollow, and bears light fuzz on the stems and leaves. This cool-season weed emerges in mid-late spring and may persist into the heat of summer and may be found in plant containers and in shady areas well into the dog days of August. Otherwise much like chickweed, Henbit will appear and disappear than reappear from seed once cool weather returns in fall. Being a member of the mint family it does produce nectar for pollinators and has a somewhat attractive lavender-purple flower.

Hey there henbit, just hanging around?
Now what do you do with henbit? Well it’s edible and you can harvest the young leaves and shoots in spring. You can combine it with other greens in a salad, where it will add texture and color and a minty-flavor. As a pot herb you can collect up to 4 cups of shoots and leaves, cover them with water and boil for 10 minutes. Separately melt 3 tablespoons of butter, add a teaspoon of curry powder, 2 whole cloves and 1/4th teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir the mix and then add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for another minute until you get a smooth consistency. AT this point you can add 3/4th cup of Sour Cream, or parmesan cheese to taste. Lastly you should simmer the final mixture for about 15 minutes very gently. What you end up with is a sort of ‘creamed spinach’ sort of dish that goes well with rice and chicken. The last time I made this, I served the henbit-crème inside of a ‘bowl’ made of the rice with chicken on the side. I also substituted Cajun seasonings for the curry powder.

As always, this weekend we have another Fayetteville City Market, and it is the first of spring 2015. The market runs from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and is located on 325 Franklin Street in the front and back parking lots of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. This week I’ll have soup kits, but also the first of the new spring product.

-Swiss Chard
-Parris Island Lettuce
-Rouge D’Hiver Lettuce
-Rosso di Chioggia Radicchio
-Dinosaur Kale

So the weather is supposed to be decent on Saturday and hopefully I’ll get to see you at the market. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for next weeks ‘edible weed’.

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