It’s March. Happy New Year! At least, March was the beginning of the New Year until September 2,1752. On that Wednesday night England, along with it’s American colonies, went to bed as usual and awoke the next morning to Thursday, September 13!
The reason? Great Britain had finally decided to replace the calendar created by Julius Caesar seventeen hundred years earlier with the much more accurate calendar the rest of Europe had been using for 170 years! Introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582, the modern calendar was designed to correct a miscalculation on the Julian calendar that resulted in an 11 day gap between the calendar dates and the seasons. It also moved New Year’s Day from the beginning of the growing season to January 1, the beginning of the legal year.
Nonetheless, gardeners still know the real beginning of the New Year is when our plants show signs of new growth and the gardening season begins. So, Happy New Year! May it be a lush and productive one with bumper crops of all your favorite plants.
Lawns, bulbs and hardy perennial herbs are often the first to show signs of renewed growth. As the lawn turns from brown to soft, fuzzy green take a thoughtful look at it. Do you see clover, violets, dandelions, johnny jump-ups and ajuga stretching their leaves? If so, you have an herbal lawn! Years ago people were happy when the grassy areas around their dwellings flowered. Poets wrote of the “flowery mead” and how delightful it was to have swatches of pink, purple, lavender, blue and yellow sweeping through the spring carpet of green.
This year celebrate the herbs mingling with the grass. Let them bloom instead of mowing them down or digging them out.
Many people are discovering the joys of allowing the lawn to flower in April and May. The color delights the eye. It’s a relief to give up the battle to have only grass, plus herbal plants actually contribute to the overall health of the soil as well as providing our important pollinators with early flowers.
If you have an organic lawn and allow it to flower, you can also have a delicious spring harvest of tender dandelion greens, violet leaves and johnny-jump-up and violet flowers for spring salads and garnishes.
When the summer heats up and the grass goes into it’s natural dormant state, the green leaves of the herbal plants will carry on until cooler weather returns and the browned-out grass greens up again.
Try it, you might like it!
SPRING HERB PESTOS
Almost any leafy, edible plant can be made into a pesto. We usually associate pesto with basil, but the word “pesto” actually comes from
the word pestle, the pounding piece of a mortar and pestle. Before food processors, mortar and pestles were used to make pastes and sauces. The spring season is too early for fresh basil pesto, but definitely not for mint, arugula, chive or garlic mustard pesto.
If you grow a culinary mint such as apple, orange or English curly mint, try the following. It’s delicious and easy.
To make an arugula, chive or garlic mustard pesto simply replace the cup of mint with a cup of another herb.
— Mint Pesto–
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh parsley, curly or flat
1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese
1- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive
1/4 cup walnuts
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine mint, parsley, garlic, cheese and nuts in the blender or food processor. Process to mix. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Continue to process until a smooth puree is formed. Taste. Add salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.
Pack the finished pesto in 1/2 pint canning jars, plastic containers or ice cube trays. Use the rubber spatula to scrape the last bits of pesto from the blender or food processor. Label the containers and freeze.