This year I planted specifically with a view to have fresh green salad to hand. It might sound like the move of someone who isn’t quite sure about gardening, but for me, it was a first. I love the modern version of salad that I have come to learn in the past two years but still harbor strong unpleasant feelings toward its 80s incarnations. Planting salad for the 2016 season was in a way an effort to purge the negative feelings toward something that may just become an important aspect of my future.
It wasn’t until my twenties that I started to voluntarily eat salad. “Rocket” had just become the new fashionable thing in Toronto usually accompanied by avocado, tomato and either mozzarella or feta. Until then, my only engagement with salad was the lackluster iceberg, cucumber tomato trilogy my mother put on the table whenever she was on a new diet.
It’s not her fault, a whole generation made salad this way. Back then, if anyone had told me I was purposely going to plant myself a salad garden, I would have scoffed.
It’s the first week of summer and I have harvested my first proper salad meal. Over the past two years I have really had my eyes and my taste buds opened to the magic that can be in a bowl of greens. I am grateful. Early in my journey when Ru Litherland first suggested that our smallholding consider salad as a cash crop I had serious prejudice. My mind still holds the bland and boring salads of my youth as it’s go to image of what a salad “is”. But today, when i sat down to eat my lunch and the beauty of what was on my plate began to sink in I gave the idea it’s first serious consideration. Salad, as a revenue stream has a lot of positive things going for it. It grows quickly, can be done early in a glass house and later in the field, luxurious versions can a relatively profitable. It’s also something I have a lot of harvesting experience with, which is another key consideration.
The banal bowl of my childhood has been replaced by a colorful, fragrant, multi flavored, visually enticing ever changing and exciting mix of herbs, leaves, and flowers. For me there is something decidedly decadent about eating flowers. For starters, it wasn’t something I knew you could do until I started my apprenticeship, and I am not alone. I have to admit, not all of them taste of much, regardless, the fact that they’re there in all their esthetic splendor adds to the enjoyment of eating.
Recently, I’ve been contemplating how the land will generate the capital we will need going forward. Luckily we don’t need much. Salad, might just be the trick.. or one of them.
Today’s salad: Beet leaf, Nasturtium leaf, CCA lettuce, garlic chive flowers, Viola Tri-color and foraged Elderflower.