Today is the first day of spring. Can’t you just feel it in the air? Even with all the crazy uncertainty going on around us right now, it’s still the first day of spring.
New life is happening all around us, and nothing can stop it. In our yard, that’s self-evident in the re-growth of the weeds that we worked so hard to pull last fall, their seeds lying in wait until just the perfect springtime weather.
Out here in the farthest reaches of West Texas, colorful wildflowers are blooming and spring gardens are showing signs of new life. I just got my spinach and kale seeds started in soil in window-boxes until I can move them outside without fear of a freak frost or snow. I’m looking forward to what nature brings us in the next 40-60 days, with ample window-sunlight and watering.
I’ve always been one to “reuse” soil when I’m planting seeds or trying to start new plants from cuttings. The soil in our yard isn’t exactly easy to work with, filled with rocks and hard as such.
For my most recent adventure of removing baby aloe vera plants from a big mama plant to get them started on their own, I used soil from a couple of “empty” dirt-filled pots that held basil until last fall when I got busy with life and let everything go to seed.
What a treat it was to water not just one, but both of the new pots of baby aloe vera, and find little basil sprouts sneaking up among the spiky aloe leaves. Basil vera? Aloe basil? I’m not quite sure what to call my newest plantings, but it makes me chuckle anyway.
Higginbotham’s in Fort Davis has had a wonderful seed display out in the store for quite some time. I picked up packets of spinach and kale seeds just the other day, and plan to get my seeds started in egg cartons in the next few days.
I have been a fan of kale since my first bite many years ago, and am excited to get my own supply started.
I started serving kale to my family by disguising it. I sautéed it with fresh spinach, mushrooms, colorful sweet peppers, onions and garlic, and it took a couple meals before someone asked what it was. Pretty sneaky, huh? They all really liked it, too.
Tuscan kale, sometimes called Lacinato or “dinosaur” kale, has darker green and flatter leaves than Curly kale, which is bright green and lives up to its name.
I like either Tuscan kale or Curly in my soups, salads and side dishes. I’m not picky – I enjoy it all. Kale salad doesn’t get soggy like lettuce, and will usually stay nice for two days in the refrigerator even with dressing on it.
(Curly on the left, Tuscan on the right)
High in vitamins A, C, K, calcium and in iron, it’s filled with cancer-fighting antioxidants. Anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular support, and helps detox your body for a healthy liver.
I love being able to go out to my garden and snip all of the ingredients for a delicious salad, or the vegetable side dish items to go with dinner. I look forward to again having that ability in the next three months or so. There’s such a wonderful feeling that comes with planting a seed, nurturing the seedling into a grown plant, and then harvesting that plant to eat.
Whether it’s container gardening, herb gardening in a windowsill or a piece of your yard that you specify as a garden, now is the perfect time to get your seeds started. I’ve also heard an exciting rumor that you can pick up wonderful starter vegetables at the Alpine Farmers Market on Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon.
Garlic and Lemon Kale Salad
1 large bunch Tuscan kale
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons juice, plus zest)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Fresh ground black pepper
Homemade croutons (optional)
Wash and dry the kale. Then de-stem, and roughly chop the kale leaves. Peel and mince the garlic clove. Sprinkle it with the kosher salt, then holding the blunt edge of the knife, scrape the sharp edge of the blade over the minced garlic, holding the knife at an angle and mashing the garlic into a paste.
Place the paste in a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and fresh ground black pepper. Whisk to combine. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
Toss the dressing with the kale leaves. Serve topped with lemon zest and additional Parmesan cheese.