Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.
Everyone has heard the expression, “tastes like chicken”. It’s applied to many unusual meats—Rattlesnake comes to mind, or even Rabbit. In the vegetable world, the expression goes, “tastes like spinach”. Any time I hear or read someone explaining Amaranth, Lambsquarter, Orach, New Zealand Spinach, or even Claytonia, they say it tastes like spinach, or “cook like spinach”.
However, I’ve tasted all of these things and I don’t think any taste much like spinach. Amaranth is “gamey” to me, as much as a leaf can be gamey. Claytonia has other names, “Miners Lettuce” is a famous one, because technically it is a weed or “native plant” that miners ate to prevent scurvy, as it is high in vitamin C. It’s also called “Winter Purslane”—it actually IS in the Portulaca family, like tangy summer purslane, and it shares the fleshy, succulent leaves, but that’s about all. What it does provide is a tender, crunchy, juicy salad. And it’s pretty.
Many people wonder about onions. Green onions, spring onions, scallions, salad onions. Around here, we generally only find Spring Onions in the spring—for us, they are the missed-over summer bulbing onions, Allium cepa, that overwinter and come back in multiples in the spring. For some magical reason, if we leave a bulb onion (like Walla Walla or Torpedo) in the ground over the winter, the bulb will rot away, but the “basal plate” where the roots emerge will sprout several new onions in the spring. We count on that freakish, survivalist behavior to provide our loyal customers with tasty Spring Onions.
We deliberately plant Green Onions, also called a “bunching” onion or a “multiplier” onion, or a “Welsh Onion”, or Allium fistulosum, because one seed turns into a plant that will multiply into several distinct onion plants rather than forming a bulb. There are specific varieties for this purpose, and the family includes chives.
Interestingly (and Mike, as an onion-hater doesn’t get this), on our application form when we ask for favorite vegetables, ONIONS in some form appear on 80%. So, we try to make sure we have some form of onion each week. It’s a trick, because we really do depend on those overwintered spring onions for April and May. We plant yellow onion sets as early as possible to provide green onions for May and June, and possibly July. We start green onion seeds in the greenhouse to give us pretty, tender bunches of green onions throughout the summer. And we set out tens of thousands of onion transplants in May to provide those amazing Walla Walla and Torpedo onions from July-September, and Yellow Bulb onions for the fall. Today I planted an awful lot of Leeks, as well, which should get outside into the ground in June so that we have tasty leeks to get us through the winter. Leeks are the only freeze-hardy onion.