In 2015, I started introducing more perennial edibles to our garden for it makes early winter to spring a bit easier for eating year round. Also, many annual vegetables and herbs are initially grown inside under lights and then placed outside in the garden soil. I have found by the end of January or early February a lot of our outdoor plants are starting to look a bit shabby in the backyard beds. Global warming has been changing our growing seasons the past few years. We have winters that are a bit milder, which means I have been adding new plants each year that seem to be doing better for winter greens. They are growing in our Urban Potager in the single digits!
I want to introduce you to Salad burnet (Sanguisorba Officinalis). It is doing a fantastic job in our urban potager for 2015-2016. I will be starting a larger bed this spring for I love this little beauty. I don’t have too many pictures of it from the garden in the summer since I was not too confident I would be keeping it, but that has all changed.It has captured my heart this winter. I am finding creative ways to use it in our recipes. It seems to look and taste pretty good in homemade hummus made with black-Kabuli chickpeas.
Joy Larkcom talks about Salad burnet in her book The Salad Garden. I am using her books this year for a resource as to what is best to grow for salad gardens. I have found small city lots are ideal for growing greens that you can make salads with from early spring all the way until winter and sometimes through winter!
According to Joy Larkcom, Salad burnet is a low-growing very hardy perennial that has beautiful, lacy leaves which remain green throughout the winter. They start out curly and open up to a delicate leaf. My Salad burnet is remaining green for most of my winter, but I do have it in a container. It has captured my heart! This past spring, I grabbed some leaves to put in salads for a light cucumber taste. Some people claim it does not have a flavor of cucumber, but I found it does. The cucumber flavor is in the young leaves. It does taste a bit bitter, and tough the older the leaves get, so stick to the new leaves. I cut it back several times, and it returned tender leaves to put in salads.
Long nights of single digits changes the game plan in our Urban Potager around early February.This week, we got another hard freeze. It was a bit different than the beginning of the freezes we have in November or December in our zone 5 growing area for they usually are followed by a warm up a few days later. Many of our fall/winter crops such as kale, swiss chard, tatsoi, arugula, sorrel, leaf celery, mache, winter lettuce don’t stop growing if a week of warmer weather follows a hard freeze. They suffer some damage but nothing to stop them in their tracks from producing greens for our table.
Growing in the city provides shelter from cold winters for we have very carefully placed homes on a city street and buildings which create microclimates. I know people that live out in rural areas which are shocked to find we have greens growing, without protection in our winter gardens. Their rural areas have frozen soil much earlier in the fall and later in the spring than on our city lots.The microclimates in our cities give us many more opportunities to grow year round. I am excited to try some more unusual perennial edibles to see if they can tolerate our long winters and hopefully be a new addition to our year round growing in the city!
You can read more about Salad burnet at this site– Plants For A Furture site (here) If you are pregnant don’t try this herb for there is not enough information out there which is what Plants For A Furture recommend. I find it tasty when you harvest the young leaves and would give it a better rating than they did. Try it yourself and see what you think. I have no doubt you will love it!