Excuse me while I gush over my fava beans. They are one of the first plants to emerge in the spring and they also happen to be one of the most interesting. As they grow, favas assume an architectural yet almost prehistoric looking structure. You would hardly know they were a bean. Yet these are the original beans of the Old World, the so-called broad bean. We love to smash them with peas and Romano cheese and smear them on bruschetta.
The peas are coming up. There's a long row of them in a bed where I plan to plant mostly beans this year. As they get taller, I will drive wooden stakes into the ground and tie string to give the peas something to hang on to with their little tendrils.
The leaf lettuces have all germinated, along with the radishes and all of our brassica greens: arugula, mizuna, tat soi and mustard. We are seeing the first signs of the new Swiss Chard as well as beets. Carrots take long time to germinate and we are still waiting to see the parsnips and burdock emerge.
Some weeks ago I planted seed trays with four heirloom varieties of tomatoes: Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Dr. Carolyn (a golden cherry tomato) and Roma. They've already been moved into larger pots and are towering over the bell peppers and eggplants. We have a few broccoli plants and kohlrabi, as well as many little parsley, cilantro, dill and chervil. They will be strategically placed in the garden so that we have a steady supply of fresh herbs. The cilantro will bolt quickly, of course. That's one herb that doesn't take very well to our hot summers here in the District of Columbia and needs to be planted repeatedly.
And for the first time we've planted onions from seeds. In the past, we always started our onions from small sets, but they never seemed to get very large. Every day lately I've been carrying the trays of onion plants outside for sun, but it's been a cool and often dreary spring this year. (Great for the spinach, another favorite that's quick to bolt in the heat.) We've seen frequent rain and wind. We should be transplanting the onions soon.
This is one of those traditional times when the garden isn't yielding much in the way of ingredients for our kitchen. But there is great hope and lots to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, we are still eating last year's pickles.