I have been out working in the garden today and have been amazed how well the native edible plants are growing even now at the beginning of December! Lady’s smock, wintercress, watercress, hairy bittercress, corn salad and chickweed are growing strong and provide a nice bit of dark green leaf to sprinkle over any meal and to add to any egg dishes, such as quiches or omelettes. I gathered a lovely selection of leaves and made a vibrant sharp tasting winter salad for my lunch, chopping the leaves up fine, stirring in grated beetroot, chopped garlic and a sweet honey and balsamic vinegar dressing…heaven!
Watercress is a fast growing aquatic or semi aquatic plant. Rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, iodine and folic acid, and is valued as an antioxidant.
My watercress is growing in a shallow pond and is especially good this time of the year. A friend and I bought a packet of seeds to share at least five years ago from Chase Organics and it has continued to grow most vigorously ever since.
Warning: You must be careful when picking watercress in the wild. When grown in the presence of animal manure, especially sheep and cows, it can be a haven for parasites such as liverfluke.
More interesting info on watercress on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watercress
Mixed Cress Soup
This is an instant soup, packed with goodness and is delicious.
1. Gather a mixture of edible native cress and edible greens.
2. Sweat some onions and garlic and throw in the cress leaves.
3. Cover with water and a spoonful of vegetable stock, add salt and paper and a little soya sauce.
4. Let simmer until all is soft – about 2 minutes. Then liquidise.
5. Take off the heat and just before serving, stir in a generous amount of soya cream or yogurt.
Up by the house, pots that had previously had tomatoes growing in them are now being taken over by winter growing native plants. I planted small transplants of chickweed around the tomato plants in the autumn and the plants are now vigorous and can be cropped weekly. I sprinkled the seeds of corn salad around the base of my cucumber plants back in September and they too are growing well now. They will carry on providing me with leaves through to March.
More from Glennie: September jobs: plant and preserve
The hugely popular How To Grow Winter Vegetables by Charles Dowding, is a brilliant guide to growing winter vegetables.
No Dig Organic Home and Garden by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty