I bought this plant Claytonia nevadensis, also known as Sierra Spring Beauty, a few weeks ago on a trip to Lost Horizons, a nursery located in the town of Acton. The plant is endemic to California, growing along rocky streams high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
I bought the plant hoping it is edible like others within the genus (sometimes called Montia). Unfortunately, there isn’t much information about this species available and I haven’t found proof either way. The mystery continues, although I ate a leaf recently so… On the positive side of things, I haven’t come across a poisonous claytonia, so there is still hope. And I am neither sick nor dead. That too.
I do not recommend or condone this method of identification.
Edible or not, buying this plant has opened my eyes to a whole new world of claytonias. I have grown the most common types and have identified them growing wild in parks on trips to California, but I had no idea there were so many different species — some much more beautiful and intriguing than c. perfoliata aka ‘Miner’s Lettuce’.
The education I sometimes glean from the acquisition of a single plant and the new worlds it can open up still surprises me. Worth the insane $9 price tag.
On the flip side of things, I’m a bit concerned about my ability to keep this little gem alive. It grows in very free draining soil or scree, alongside flowing mountain streams. Clearly these are not the conditions at my community garden plot. So for the time being, I’m keeping it in a pot until I can figure something out.
Recently, our meals have been peppered with ingredients gleaned from the gardens; however, today’s lunch is the first that is all garden grown.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Chive Blossoms: A hardy perennial that has been growing for about a decade in a big container on the roof.
- Lemon Balm: Eat the fresh leaves in the spring. This is a hardy perennial that self seeds all over the community garden.
- Parsley: From the roof.
- Pansy petals: Also from the roof.
- Three types of lettuce: All of which self-seeded in various containers on the roof. I didn’t have to do a thing, although I did transplant a few to the community garden plot.
- ‘Egyptian Walking Onion’: Just the greens.
- Borage sprouts: I got this idea from Julianna, who brought a salad to our Saturday afternoon transplant trade/potluck that included borage from her garden. Borage self-seeds like nobody’s business and is coming up like mad right now. why not use the tender, fresh sprouts rather than tossing them in the compost? The first set of true leaves are prickly but the cotyledon leaves are smooth, with a fresh cucumbery taste.
- Baby kale
- Purple Mizuna: More on this soon. This is my new favourite edible!
- Assorted mustard greens
- Violet leaves and flowers: I have a small patch over at the community garden that is going to expand this year once I add the three additional varieties I have acquired this spring. Eat the young, new leaves and the flowers.
- Bloody Dock: If you’d like to know more, I wrote an article on spring greens including bloody dock, for Garden Making magazine.
For identification purposes, here’s what the borage seedlings look like. You can also identify them by their cucumber scent. The seedling in the top left corner is anise-hyssop. You can eat that too.
You want a food post today. I can feel it. I had every intention to post a photo of something edible that I am growing this year but then photos of this creamy, soft daffodil came up, and how much longer can I talk about daffodils when they are so very nearly on the way out?
The daffodils are fleeting. I have found myself jumping between favorites as they have rolled out their blooms. This is the one I currently favor.
I love it here, paired with Artemisia vulgaris ‘Oriental Limelight’.
Well done Mr. Parker. Well done.
Update: You’ll notice that I got the variety wrong. I don’t believe ‘Avalon’ is a miniature, and I didn’t realize these qualified as a miniature. Time passes since a picture is taken and you forget about size unless they’re really tiny like these guys.
This year, for a myriad of reasons, I have rapidly expanded my succulent collection, most especially sempervivums, which I just can’t seem to stop myself from buying. I bought and/or acquired by other means 25 new semps this year alone in addition to a few other related succulents, many of which are hardy and some that aren’t.
Despite the sudden influx of plants I have been growing semps (aka hens and chicks) for years. They are most likely one of the very first non-edibles I grew. Just about everyone starts with them and for good reason: the plants are virtually unkillable and require almost no care. Every beginner gardener should begin here.
What’s different this year is that I have begun to collect orostachys and rosalaria, two closely related, hardy succulents that I have never grown before. Both plants look a lot like sempervivums and are grown under very similar conditions. Most literature says they can tolerate very cold conditions but I am not convinced that some of these stranger varieties are as hardy as semps. The plants come in paler colours and have a slightly softer look about them. As a result, I didn’t want to throw them in among the semps but instead had decided to give them their own space to be showcased. I had a sudden brain wave one afternoon last week when I realized that I had just the perfect pot, a vintage, emerald green dish that I have never had much luck with. Having begun life as a dish meant to hold candy or trinkets it is shallow and only suited to diminutive plants with shallow roots that can also take a bit of drought.
Top Photo from Left to Right: Orostachys minuta, Rosularia rechingeri (turkestanica), Orostachys ‘Jade Mountain’, Orostachys ‘NYBG’.
To prepare the pot for growing, I drilled a couple of 1/2″ holes in the bottom with a masonry bit meant for drilling into terracotta or brick. I used very sandy, gritty soil — a potting mix meant for growing cactus is perfect. I top-dressed after planting with tufa chips, a very light-weight rock that is often used in growing alpine plants. I got a big ziploc baggie for $5 from Wrightman’s Alpines.
This is a sempervivum I potted up at the same time in a bonsai pot that has always been too shallow to grow anything else. I love this variety’s tight rosettes and mounding form. I can’t tell from the tag if it is called ‘Granide’ or ‘Grande.’ ‘Grande’ seems all wrong given that the plant is teeny, tiny.
Next weekend, we’re headed to Detroit for a joint book launch event for “Grow Great Grub” and graphic novel, “Sword of My Mouth.” Why is a food gardening book teaming up with a graphic novel about the apocalypse (and vice-versa) you ask? Well, as it happens, the story is set in Detroit and features urban agriculture pretty heavily. If you think it’s hard keeping the raccoons and squirrels away now, imagine trying to grow a tomato crop through a post-apocalyptic famine! Apologies in advance, but I don’t believe I can offer adequate advice or a homemade garlic spray that will effectively eradicate a plague of locusts. I can, however, take down a plague of aphids or currant worms.
Meanwhile, I have finally updated the homepages events sidebar as well as the events page on the Grow Great Grub website with confirmed up and coming events. More will be added as they are confirmed.
In the area of past events, I wanted to mention that You Grow Girl won the reader’s poll award for Best Farming or Gardening website in TreeHugger’s Best of Green Awards. Thank you so much for voting!
The site has also been nominated for two categories in the Mouse and Trowel Gardenblogging Awards: Best Photography and Best Writing.
Update: I forgot to mention that I will be doing a live chat on The Motherhood at 1pm EST today (Monday, May 10, 2010.) Bring your questions!