I know this is not meant to be a blog about beaches but how can I resist playing show and tell when I do also have something to say about my lunch? Ok, I'll put the lunch bit first and you can close your eyes and not read the beach bit if you are such a purest!
I am addicted to leaves. I have tried to even out my diet with other vegetables but when it comes down to it I just can't stop eating leaves, any way they come. I am always going on about growing them because I live on them. And the funny thing is, they are what grow best in my garden. So which came first, the addiction or the crop? Who knows but it has been a gradual thing, over about 10 years or so probably.
First I grew what is now my favourite winter leaf, the pale green spinach; the first seeds I ever received from a seedsavers group. Then I grew different lettuces and herbs. I came to love picking cold, crisp leaves in the early morning, for putting into my children's sandwiches. I would pick extras and wrap them around some chives or oregano, as a pre-breakfast snack, standing there, in the vegetable garden in my dressing gown and bare feet.
My Wednesday gardening friend, Glenys, is the queen of the cooked, red cabbage and Ian from A Kitchen Garden In France pickles the raw, red leaves and has them with his lunch. In France I also discovered the blanched endive for cooking and the magnificent, dark red endive for eating raw (as in the photo). These became my favourite winter leaves.
Peter Cundall from ABC's Gardening Australia told us all about kale and how he says it is what has kept him young, at 80. So I grew that and loved it and found that Diana had some other kales besides cavolo nero, and so my experience of kale grew and grew. Next I discovered you could eat sweet potato leaves, when I read a book from the library about Eastern European vegetable gardeners in Melbourne. That became my favourite summer salad leaf only last year and probably still would be if mine hadn't died this year.
Asian greens are so easy to grow and self-sow everywhere. There is a particular bok choy-type called Ching Chiang Pai Tsai.... crazy name, great plant.... it has such a beautiful curvy shape and is compact and so quick to grow. There are so many Asian greens.... another favourite of mine is the edible chrysanthemum, originally from the Mediterranean, evidently.
Then I started the water garden and now I have water spinach as a cut and come again salad leaf. The hollow stems are also lovely and crisp and sweet and this is my new favourite for 2009. Also in the water garden is cress, which has a good bite to it and which makes a great soup, topped with a poached egg, as in a TV programme I saw on the BBC, and subsequently cooked.
Oh no.... what's this got to do with lunch? Well, apart from the yellow cornos capsicum and Tony's red pimento capsicum and Deb's Seemore carrot, I had a stack of water spinach for lunch. No dressing, just the long, thin leaves attached still to the stems, rinsed with rain water and shaken off. So lush, so good...... I just sat there smiling and eating.
And now is the perfect time to sow and plant lots of leaves for winter.
A perfect crab skeleton, a perfect abalone shell and I am including in the photo something I found some time ago, a perfect skeleton of a leafy sea-dragon.
There are more photos here.