Saturday, April 7, 2012

April's Fool


Ah April! You know that Spring is finally here when April comes round. No matter that the latest weather reports announce snow and sleet, April is when definite signs of springs are unmistakable: the crocuses are up; the constant hammering of rain washes away the dusty grime left behind by the melting snow; and green buds are sprouting in trees, on the ground and every other nook and cranny.

Spring has had a definite foothold in Southern England for over a month now, but I can feel it in my bones that she is also making her presence known in the rest of the Northern hemisphere. Despite April being at the tail end of the 'hunger gap', there are a few things to look forward to, even if the fields and gardens are not yet in production mode.


Sprouts
For those of you who have caught the sprouting bug, sprouting in a jar might be old hat -and frankly, a little blah come April- but there is an alternate way of growing sprouts at home that not only produces tastier and healthier tidbits, but will satisfy the urge to dig of any land-less gardener: sprouting in soil opens up a whole new world, as certain seeds -basil, roquette, and sunflower- do not grow well in jars. Also, while more expensive seeds, such brassicas, tend to develop little flavour in jars, soil-grown sprouts take completely new dimensions when given a few extra days of growth and sun. Peas and beans are reliable jar-sprouters, yet when grown in a pot and allowed to reach the leaf-stage, they become a welcome addition to salads as they can be eaten raw. 

Wild Things
Get out of the house! If the ground is dry enough to trample on, there will be things growing that can be picked for eating. Depending on where you live, April can have a bounty on offer to the forager: dandelion greens or flowers; nettles; wild garlic and leeks; mint and other aromatic herbs. 
You will need a guide to find what you are looking for, or a knowledgeable person to point out the edibles. In any case, you should get out of the house, air yourself out, and get a new perspective on the world around you.

Peas and Broad Beans
No, I haven't become delusional: I am very much aware that it is much too early for peas and fava beans for most of Canada, but April does conjure up images of fresh peas and favas to shell. In North America, April's peas and beans are in season in California, Texas and the Virginias; in Europe peas and broad beans travel from field in Sicily and Spain.
Keep an eye open for fresh chick peas: they are a completely different experience from the dried stuff, and are only available for a short period of time. The Canadian crop will only make a short appearance in late-August.

Rhubarb
April is full of promises, though it often does not pan out. However, one reliable crop in April is rhubarb. Although I am an ocean away from my old garden, I know that my rhubarb plants have broken ground, and will offer up their brilliant stalks by month's end. For these alone, I would fall head over heels for April: I dream of rhubarb fools, jams, compotes, and so much more...



Bon app'!





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