Despite having grown up in farm country, I’ve never been much of a gardener. I have whatever the opposite of a green thumb is—a purple pinky?
I lay claim to the dubious distinction of having once killed a spider plant. Nothing can kill those things…except for me. I figure it was either a case of extreme neglect or the little guy overheard me barking at a telemarketer who called my home at dinnertime. That could make anything wither.
But, as my husband is fond of teasing me, I am a farmers market groupie. So last month I attended the Small Farm Summit at Hofstra University with many of my farmer friends.
It was edifying to learn that many edible plants grow in the wild on Long Island. I trundled off on a group nature walk with The Natural Nurse at the event. She assured us that dandelion greens have a place at the table, as she munched on some Japanese knotweed.
I remain wary of the flavor of dandelion greens due to an early, BAD experience—but I might sprinkle in some dandelion petals.
Back at home, I set about concocting a “local” salad. I nabbed some woodland sorrel—a weed that I grew up calling “shamrock.”
I snipped off two tiny sprigs of mint—that stuff grows all over Sag Harbor.
I’ll even throw in some rose petals when they come out. Someone who lived on our property many years ago left a legacy of rootstock roses—small and white.
In addition to the weeds growing in the cracks in the pavement around my home, I had a few garden successes to add to the bowl.
My store-bought pansies are thriving—I threw in a bunch of their colorful blossoms.
I was sorely tempted to throw in a pea shoot or two because they’re so fun to munch on when they’re young and tender. But of the many peas I planted this season only two “shot.” I figured I better leave those two alone and pray for peas.
You can plant peas and some varieties of beans several times throughout the season because they grow so quickly. It’d be nice to have some pea plants for shoots and some for peas…when I dream, I dream big.
We’ve had oregano growing outdoors for several years—so some of that went in. I wouldn’t think of putting in any of the other hardy survivor in our herb patch—the sage. My husband hates it—unless it’s a hint on a finely-roasted turkey.
My big successes this season are chives and mustard greens. I bought a chive plant from Regina at the Fair Foods Market at Bay Burger and—thanks to the rain we’ve had—it’s still with us three weeks on. The shocker is our homegrown mustard greens. They came up!
To round out my seasonal tossed salad I relied on the pros and threw in half a bag of organic Spring Radish Mesclun Mix from Bette & Dale’s Farm on the Bridgehampton Turnpike.
Then I drained a can of black olives and threw them on. Long Island—meet California!
I mixed up an Italian dressing with Wolffer’s rosé vinegar and olive oil and it was a party in my mouth. Husband liked it too—I just had to assure him that I’d rinsed everything twice.
Would that life could be gathered up and mixed around in a bowl, dressed up and chowed down…