Sunday is May Day, 1st May – historically the time of the Beltane celebration, but now mostly celebrated in the UK as a Bank Holiday weekend, meaning many people have Monday off work 🙂 This weekend is also traditionally one of the busiest garden shopping weekends of the year, although this year it is still very cold. My garden has experienced frosts and snow/sleet this week! I don’t think we’ll be making a traditional May Cup this weekend, like we did last year.
1 May is also International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day, a time to sow sunflowers for planting in locations you don’t really have a right to plant them in 😉 FYI, 2 May is World Naked Gardening Day, so this is a busy weekend!
Last week, according to social media, the UK’s flagship garden TV programme, Gardeners’ World, mentioned skirret, Sium sisarum, a forgotten perennial vegetable that is currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance. I have some growing in my garden, courtesy of Alison from The Backyard Larder, and we saw some growing at Hampton Court Palace in 2014. It caused a bit of a stir back then, even getting itself mentioned in The Telegraph, a thoroughly mainstream British newspaper.
Alison likes to turn her harvest into skirret pasties, which sounds like a thoroughly British endeavour. For more about growing skirret, visit her blog and/or Skirret—Growing, Selecting (and Eating) and Farmer Scrub’s Crop summary: Skirret, Sium sisarum.
So, what edible plant delights do I have for you on this long weekend? Lilac blossom cordial, and if you live in the desert then Honest Food explains How to Eat Cholla Buds. For those of us in cooler climes, we have 3 cornered fritters, which refers to their wild leek contents rather than their shape! And chive butter blossoms, and we can look forward to the amazing tomatillo when the weather warms up.
And one article about a plant which isn’t edible and for which the processing into medicinal products is best left to the experts – Castor for Sonoran Summers, about the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) and its Ricin toxin – often grown as an ornamental. An equally controversial plant is the tiger nut, Loathed By Farmers, Loved By Ancients. Unlike the castor oil plant, I am hoping to have tiger nuts in the garden this year!
There will definitely be oca in this year’s garden, which is good news as we quite enjoyed the oca samosas I made with the last of the harvest.
Finally for this week, bon appétit are trying to convince us that The Next Cult Gluten-Free Grain is Job’s Tears and The Odd Pantry is explaining about cooking with horse gram, an ancient grain grown in South India since the Neolithic. Perhaps it is due for a comeback as well?
Happy weekend to all gardeners and botanists!
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.