In the warmth and light of late February’s lengthening days, the kitchen garden’s perennial vegetables are sending out new growth. Pink tips of asparagus poke through the dirt next to dried stalks of last year’s crop. Crinkled green rhubarb leaves open over red stems. Gray-green artichoke leaves unfurl above mounds of hay that protected their roots through the cold spells of winter. And bright green spears of garlic rise above rich dark soil. In another month they’ll all have doubled or tripled in size and seem less remarkable than they do now as they signal the start of the new season. The excitement then will be in eating them. Over-wintered kale plants that survived the deep cold that began in November and returned several more times in December are now sending out tender, sweet new leaves from their sturdy stalks. We’ve been enjoying them in salads dressed with a little olive oil, salt and lemon. The growth of these new leaves will accelerate in the weeks ahead and eventually seed heads will form as kale’s final gift. Kale buds, asparagus, artichokes, green garlic and rhubarb pie, all spring food to look forward to. As a backdrop to the vegetables, the garden paths and hedge are emerging from their winter shagginess. Last weekend we mowed the garden paths for the first time of the season and we have just finished the annual hedge-trimming task. Both lawn and hedge are now smooth, even, velvet green surfaces, two more welcome signs of spring.
Signs of Spring