It’s been a rainy weekend here in Virginia. We’ve had thunderstorms two days in a row and even a tornado warning on Friday. I’m itching to get out in the garden and plant spinach, mustard, onions, and breadseed poppies (new this year!). But the soil is too damp (I’m crossing my fingers that the already-planted peas are going to make it), and I’ve had to settle for cuddling up with my seed catalog yet again, salivating over the pictures of things for which I now own the seeds, even if the first harvest is at least a couple of months away.
Or is it? I have to admit that I’ve actually had a few foretastes of this year’s bounty. This past week the brassicas I sowed indoors January 30 developed their third true leaves, which meant it was time to thin them down to one plant per pot. And that meant I suddenly had a lot of superfluous broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seedlings. What’s the kindest and least wasteful thing to do with these little guys? Not put them on the compost pile. Oh no. They’re much too tasty for that.
The local food movement often talks about the goal of eating food that’s raised within one or two hundred miles of you. Well, with seedling salad, you can measure the distance from soil to mouth not in miles but inches. Bend down, pluck a seedling, and see what your future harvest is going to be all about!
Of course, you should only eat the thinnings of plants whose leaves are edible. (Don’t eat tomato plants, for example!) But the brassicas are fair game. And you’ll find that the leaves of each species have their own distinctive taste. Cabbage tastes like cabbage, and broccoli like broccoli. (Cauliflower doesn’t really taste like cauliflower; more like a mix of the other two.) And these leaves are so tender and succulent that there’s no need for a bowl or dressing. Soil to mouth is the name of the game.
Other thinnings I’ve enjoyed tasting are lettuce (of course), feverfew (that one packs a punch! whew!), and, of course, my delicious and exotic Holy basil. When my baby rhubarbs get their third true leaves, I’m going to enjoy snacking on some of them, too. Just the stems, though. The leaves are supposed to be poisonous.
What’s in your seedling salad?