When my mother was alive, she would go out in my backyard, cut a mixture of flowers, interesting greens, flowering branches, and even flowering weeds, and make the most beautiful simple floral arrangements. She would set them around my house in small vases. Even her choice of containers was unusual, antique blue bottles, ceramic jars, and porcelain or metallic bowls. Her sense of style and creativity was legendary. I was always getting ideas from her. I miss her.
Monday, I needed to come up with a floral arrangement for my book club, the Book Hunters, annual luncheon. As I stood in my backyard early in the morning watering vegetables, I wondered WWMD? What would Mom do? I had gorgeous leaves of every shape, size, color and texture. Some of my herbs were flowering. I had pea pods, garlic scapes, and other seed heads. I suddenly got the idea to make an edible arrangement using one thing from every vegetable and herb growing in my backyard. I got a bucket, filled it with water and started picking. I ended up with this. Unfortunately, it lacked oomph.
I made a quick SOS call to my flower-arranging friend and fellow Book Hunter, Mary. Could she come over a little before the meeting and pretty this arrangement up? Mary, my mother’s name, by the way, arrived and got busy arranging while I searched the garden for more color.
I picked flowers, seed pods, garlic scapes and even a few flowering stems from my beloved Heirloom Desiree Dwarf Blauwschokkers pea plant. It was painful to cut that one knowing those flowers would have turned into peas. Purple peas, no less.
These purple peas become a focal point wherever they show up, whether growing on the vine, served as a side dish, or used in an arrangement. This a fun plant to grow, readers.
By the time everyone arrived, Mary had worked her magic, and we had an arrangement full of color, texture and whimsy. And all of it was edible.
Leaves: Winterbor Kale, Red Russian Kale, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Kookaburra Spinach, Red Romaine, Freckled Romaine, Red Oak Leaf Lettuce, Alcosa Cabbage, Red Clover, Red Ace Beet, Bull’s Blood Beet, Hakurei F1 Hybrid Turnip, Easter Egg Radish, Lorane Improved Broad Fava Bean, Spring Onion
Plumes: Dill, Jersey Knight Asparagus, Calliope Blend Carrots, Scarlet Nantes Carrots, Purple Haze F1 Carrots
Shapes: Sugar Snap Pea, Oregon Sugar Pod 2, Desiree Dwarf Blauswshokkers, Garlic
Flowers: Arugula, Sage, Red Meat Radish
More flowers: Mustard, Pea, Parsley, Garlic
Mom would have approved. The chickens did.
The story didn’t end there. Last night, I deconstructed the arrangement to make dinner. I placed parts to be sautéed in one bowl, parts for a salad in another, flowers for a small arrangement in a vase and stems and such in the compost bucket for the chickens.
I sautéed the vegetable and herbs with spring onions and garlic in olive oil, mixed in four cups of leftover cooked farro and added the meat from a rotisserie chicken. When the food was all mixed, seasoned, and heated, I squeezed lemon juice over all of it and stirred in grated parmesan cheese. We had it for dinner.
For more details about planting a spring vegetable garden, check out this post: Urban Farming: Spring Planting. I also have a post called Urban Farming: Fall Planting if you are thinking of taking the plunge into backyard farming this Fall.
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