by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | Ah, harvest really starts to come to fruition in the veggie garden at this time of year. Greens of all colours and textures are being harvested for smoothies, salads and whatnot; broccoli is hitting your dinner plate; peas are forming; strawberries are ripe for the picking; zucchini blossoms are going off; and it’s time to start harvesting the scapes off your garlic plants. Feast your eyes and watering mouths on this list of 3 sweet sweet seasonal treats that you should introduce to your mouth ASAP…
1. Garlic Scapes | Harvesting garlic scapes never gets old. The season for these flower stalks (resembling asparagus in colour and texture) that emerge on a garlic plant is ephemeral. They’re abundant at the farmers market as we speak if you don’t grow your own. The harvest is so exciting on account of the fact that garlic has been taking up valuable real estate in your garden since September and won’t be out until July. But, it’s so worth it, as you reap two harvests – one for the scapes and one for the bulbs. Bonus: they store well, so it’s a win-win. The trick with harvesting and choosing scapes is to get them while they’re tender, as they tend to get woody like asparagus if left too long. When harvesting, get them when they’re starting to curl in their growth pattern, and before they grow to their second curl.
2. Strawberries | Nothing marks the start of summer more than the start of strawberry season! We absolutely love milling around the garden and picking the sweet candy of nature along the way, or chopping them up in a salad, or plopping a couple into our evening glass of rose. If you want to try growing strawberries, they’re easy and take up little space. They’re also great for containers as perennials, so you can reap the benefits of harvest year after year. If you have over 6 hours of sun a day, choose an everbearing variety for continuous harvest. If you have less light, fear not – there are varieties that tolerate lower light conditions, like a coastal strawberry, or, the native alpine strawberry that is found wild in our woodlands. These have a very distinct flavour, exactly like a sweet tart.
3. Zucchini Blossoms | Zucchini blossoms…why do we love them so much? Probably because they only stay fresh and delicious for a hot minute after they’re harvested, and they fetch a fine price at the farmer’s market. But guess what? The hype is for a reason. There’s nothing like biting into a zucchini blossom stuffed with ricotta and herbs and then delicately battered and fried. Did you know that zucchini plants have both male and female flowers? (The female is on the forming fruit). There’s often an abundance of male flowers, and they’re more suited to being harvested. But, if you’re growing the plants, make sure the female flower is pollinated and gets to mature before picking all the flowers off for dinner. Just sayin’. The fruit should be at least 2” and the blossom should be dying off. Then go for it and harvest!