Exuberant rhubarb

drawing of rhubarb

Are you looking for the best time/result ratio? Vote for rhubarb! For non-gardeners and occasional gardeners alike, rhubarb is a godsend. Requiring no care and growing in mid-shade and cool soil, this hardy perennial thrives every year. These giant leaves can reach a span of up to two meters. They are supported by their scarlet-red stems or petioles, tending to green, and form a particularly beautiful decorative ensemble in June.

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Happy carrots, happy new year !

 

Carrots make you look and feel good, so why not start the year with them? By the way, do you know where they come from? The carrot, like many of our vegetables, comes from the East, its ancestors having been found in Eurasia, and more precisely in Afghanistan. Not very fleshy like its cousin, the parsnip, still very popular in Great Britain, the carrot came in all colors: from purple to pink, from yellow to orange or even white. But it wasn’t until the end of the 18th century, when white carrots were crossbred with red ones, that they strangely became orange instead of pink.

But how can you tell by its foliage what color it is under the soil ? There’s only one solution: pull out the root to identify it ! The carrot is in fact a taproot, because its root is unique, straight and tapered. If we didn’t harvest it in its first year, we’d see it blossom into magnificent white umbels, followed by seeds like any biennial plant. You would see it growing wild on our embankments, not to be confused with the poisonous hemlock.

But how can you tell from its outer foliage what color it is underground? There’s only one solution: pull out the root to identify it ! The carrot is in fact a taproot, because its root is unique, straight and tapered. If we didn’t harvest it in its first year, we’d see it blossom into magnificent white umbels, followed by seeds. Just as you’d see it growing wild on our embankments, not to be confused with the hemlock with its sinister reputation. This is characteristic of biennial plants. Continue reading “Happy carrots, happy new year !”

Plums of the childhood

Plums and plumtrees

Do you remember, during summer holidays in the countryside, coming back from the orchard, with a half-full basket of plums now, in your hand, and your mouth full of the other half? Yellow, golden, red-pigmented yellow, yellow with a hint of green, or blue with a hint of violet, the range of plum colors is very subtle. Continue reading “Plums of the childhood”

Hello spring, hello radishes!

When the nice days come back, we love their round and pink faces. Because in this period of transition between the winter vegetables and the first shoots of new vegetables, they taste as good as spring itself. Did you know that radishes do not belong to the root vegetable family? Known since antiquity, they are a part of the brassicas like mustard, arugula, watercress and cabbage. We find their traces in the writings of Olivier de Serres, considered as the father of French agronomy, the science of agriculture. Although in the sixteenth century, the terms of “agronomy” was referred to as “mesnager des champs or “farmland manager”. He invites gardeners to “sow every moon ( 28 days ) during six months…to have…every day new and tender raiforts (radishes)”. The agronomist is probably referring to the cultivation of radishes called “every month radish “. However, one has more chance of success if one waits until April to sow radishes, or even better early may. Continue reading “Hello spring, hello radishes!”

The Bear’s garlic

the bear's garlic for bears and gourmets

At the end of the winter , it’s as enchanting as snow, but this carpet of white flowers  of the “ Bear’s Garlic “ will only be visible from about March to May, that brief moment when the spring sun reaches the soil.  Then the plant disappears underground to concentrate its energy for the bulb to grow. This wild plant lives in the fresh and shaded environment. It appreciates the well-drained, light and rich ground . Why does this plant multiply so quickly in large colonies in the wood , in spite of the cold?  It spreads out all over the place for two reasons. On one hand,  the bulbs form bulbils like all the alliaceous family, and on the other hand, its flowers, looking like white little stars,  are carrying hundreds of seeds, which are disseminated by the ants.

This aromatic strong odor repulses the parasites.  Its savor recalls the garlic , in a more subtle way .This is very appreciated by the cooks for the pesto, called “the pesto of the undergrowth”. But also raw and chopped, it is a great addition to salads. So let’s all take a walk in the woods!

 

Endives, from garden to cellar

Endives, from garden to cellar

Who invented the endive ? One says that it is thanks to the head gardener’s Mr. Bréziers’ forgetfulness in Brussels around 1850, that the endive was created. Therefore when he discovered his forgotten endives at the end of his cellar, he did not recognize them. Their leaves had whitened and lengthened.  Their taste had almost lost their bitterness. And everybody was crazy about this. Continue reading “Endives, from garden to cellar”

The Fig, False Fruit, Real Flower

Drawing of 4 types of figs

Was it because the fig tree was considered a divine tree in the Mediterranean basin that Louis XIV was crazy about it? He had 700 fig trees planted in crates that were brought in during the winter, like his famous orange trees. It was for those trees that Mansart designed the Fig Garden in the King’s Kitchen Garden. The pavilion still called by that name now houses the large exhibition rooms of the Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage (ENSP). Continue reading “The Fig, False Fruit, Real Flower”

The king, the princes, and the green pea

the green pea

Did you know that before being small and green, the brown peas had fed men and animals since the Neolithic era in order to survive the harshest winters? In fact, easy to produce and well kept in a dry place, it is the best food to face periods of scarcity as its nutritional power surpasses meat. The pea belongs to the “fabaceae” family, like lentils or beans. Its destiny changed when in 1660, a daring cook named Audigier offered peas, still green, and in the middle of January, to the Sun King. And as it was the fashion in Italy, they loved it. Continue reading “The king, the princes, and the green pea”