There comes a day, in late winter, when the gardener inside me wakes up and emerges, somewhat paler, fatter and less able to heft heavy bags of compost than she was when she went into hibernation for the winter. It should have been yesterday, which was bright and sunny, but for various reasons she overslept and got up this morning.
When the days are short, cold and wet, it’s hard to do more than pop outside to harvest something or refill the bird feeders. But this morning I had a goal – to plant up the hostas I bought in an unplanned excursion to Wilkinsons on Sunday. We went into town to run an errand, and I wanted to have a quick look in the pound shops to see if the Triteleia and Tigridia bulbs were in. They weren’t. I did see packets holding 1 Hosta plant for £1, but they looked shrivelled and lifeless. Ryan wanted to pop into Wilkos, and it was there that I found a mixed packet of 3 Hostas for £2, which were showing signs of life. So I took the plunge.
I have long wanted to add some hostas to the garden, for their edible virtues. In fact, I did add some to the old garden, but never got round to eating them before I left. I can’t remember what happened to them, but they didn’t make the trip to the new garden. According to my records, I planted them some time in 2011, so they were probably still there when I left.
Anyway… I’ve wanted hostas in the garden since reading about them in Permaculture Magazine. You can read Stephen Barstow’s article, Oriental perennial spinach, on his website. He also updated it for inclusion in his book, Around the World in 80 Plants.
Initially when I unpacked my hostas (which had taken advantage of the warmth in the kitchen to sprout quite a bit since Sunday!) I thought there was only one. But it turned out they were just clumped together with an elastic band that was hard to spot. They needed separating.
So I had my three plants. Except… on close inspection…
…it was four. They’ve been curled up in a bag for long enough to have curvy roots, so not the easiest things to plant (especially since the roots are quite brittle), but it’s done. Of course, what should have been a five minute job took an hour because – as it turns out – I had to go out and get some potting compost. Which had been stored in the rain and was very wet and very heavy. And so my inner gardener felt the need to retreat indoors again for a cup of tea. Hopefully we’ll see her more often now the days are getting longer, but there’s cold weather on the way again, so I’m not holding my breath.
We’re not used to thinking about hostas as edible plants, but there are one or two resources on the internet: Eating Hostas from Plums & Pignuts and time to eat the hostas from Morning Star, plus recipes from the gardenweb and Maplewood Online forums. I’m not going to need those recipes this year, but hopefully next year I will!
This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.