When you live in the South, and you want to be at least a little self-sufficient in food, and you really, REALLY enjoy eating greens, it’s always a bit of a bummer when the weather turns warmer than greens like and they start to bolt.
It looks like, by the time the lettuce becomes unpalatable, we’ll have a few sugar snap peas to eat. This photo I took mid last week:
This one I took just a couple of days later – one of the first pea blossoms!
I also have pole beans that have just germinated…
…and a few bush beans.
If you look carefully, you can see in the upper left-hand corner a just-germinated bean sprout coming up. I was pleased as punch that any of them had germinated, because the seeds were rescued from bean pods that had ended up on the ground and gotten quite moist. The seeds I subsequently recovered were shriveled up, and I wasn’t sure they were viable. But at least three of them were! That’s enough to save seeds from for next year. This summer I’m going to somehow prop them up off the ground!
Green beans can be eaten raw when they are teeny babies. Otherwise, until we have cucumber fruits growing (which will be at least another month), we will sometimes eat steamed green beans instead of lettuce.
If it weren’t for Jack Spirko’s podcast, I think it would have been a long time before I learned about New Zealand spinach and Red Malabar spinach. They are distant cousins to the traditional cold-loving spinach, with a similar nutritional profile, although not as impressive.
However, they are two kinds of greens that will grow all summer long in the South. In fact, the Red Malabar loves the heat. I’ll talk more about them separately in future posts. For now, how about a couple of photos?
Here’s the New Zealand spinach, the top photo showing plants that germinated two or three weeks before those in the bottom photo:
And the Red Malabar spinach, just having sprouted:
By the way, I didn’t plant seeds for either one. They both reseed liberally, so if you plant either one once, you will never have to plant them again!
There you go – several vegetables that are great alternatives to lettuce if you live in the South. (And if you missed the video of my son helping me plant peas, click here.)