This spring I started seeds of a long, red, Italian radish variety called ‘Candela di Fuoco.’ They did well enough considering the strange weather that season — I ate the crunchy roots and sautéed the greens.
When two stragglers bolted in the heat, I let them go and ate their flowers. The plants continued to grow all through the summer, forming into wild masses of tentacled branches, bitter leaves, pretty flowers, and seedpods. These too were edible, and we ate them fresh and crunchy straight off of the plant and in salads until they became hard, mature, and unpalatable.
Here’s a homemade holiday gift from the garden that there is still time to make. It took me about an hour and a half to make the caramel slab and I’ll probably be cutting and packaging individual caramels until the second coming, but it will have been worth it. To say that these are gorgeous and addictive is an understatement. The best way to savour them is to put one in your mouth and let it melt slowly. They’re buttery, sweet, and salty with just enough lavender and a taste of honey. I can’t get these packaged, wrapped, and out of here fast enough because I CAN’T STOP EATING THEM.
It was bought impulsively; one of those corner market jobs that catches your fancy from out of the corner of your eye. And it did, and I did, while walking home slightly inebriated from a decadent restaurant meal. (Worse things have happened under the influence of alcohol, I am sure.)
It shouldn’t have been outside in such cold weather, but that’s how they get you. And let’s face it, I can’t walk past a plant display without looking, no matter where it is and no matter the condition of the plants. And sometimes because of their condition.
“I will save you poor, mistreated plant!”
I always look. Always. And if I don’t stop to look, I at least scan. I am an expert scanner and can spot a diamond in the rough from across the street. I was reared on Midnight Madness Blue Light Special and have decades of thrift store shopping under the belt.
Like all corner market plants, the variety name is unknown. No tag or ID. Not meant to last. Enjoy it while it is in bloom and then toss it once the embarrassment of its ragged condition is enough to outweigh the guilt. Which is too bad really, since they are not terribly difficult to keep and can last decades, generations if you’re determined.
Here’s how to keep a Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) and even get it to rebloom:
I recently had an assortment of old film developed (recently being tonight) and one of those rolls contained photos that I took last January at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico.
‘Doone Valley,’ a variegated creeping thyme with a lemon scent/flavour is seen here growing in my Dry Bed in and around red semperivum and a Silver Brocade Artemisia (Artemisia stelleriana).
I’ve been growing thyme (Thymus spp.) for about as long as I’ve been gardening and I over that time I have tried every variety you can think of and in a multitude of widely varying growing conditions. From raised beds to hard, clay soil, and from big planter boxes to the tiniest pots, I have put this plant through its paces to see what it will withstand. I have grown it out in the blazing sun and tucked it underneath the shade of rose bushes. I have crammed it into tight spots between rocks, and pampered it with rich, nutritious compost.
I have never had thyme as full, bushy, and glorious as I do in this garden.