For the last month or so I've been working on a project that's kept me indoors a lot more than I'd like and, much to my annoyance, I'm behind. Spring has got the jump on me. Seeds that I should have sown by now still sit in their unopened packets. Beds that should have been prepared are still covered with last season's mulch. And the weeds, right on cue, have started moving in and making themselves comfortable.
If you're in the same predicament, all is not lost. Order can be restored in the garden with a hard couple of day's work and while it may be too late to get some plants in the ground, many can be planted later than usual and still do well. Plus, there's always room to get in some fast growing crops that yield a tasty harvest in a matter of weeks, rather than months. I think of these as my rescue plants – they save what might have otherwise been a lost season.
Radishes, rocket, leaf lettuce and Asian greens such as pak choy and mizuna are the fastest growing plants in the vegie patch. Yet speed isn't their only virtue. The greens in particular are brilliant for “cut and come again” harvesting, and all are loaded with nutrients. Another advantage of planting them at this time of the year is that the relatively cool weather reduces the risk that plants like rocket and lettuce will grow so rapidly that they bolt straight to seed.
They also happen to be absolutely delicious. In radish, rocket, lettuce and mizuna you have a beautiful, punchy, instant salad. Add some edible spring flowers such as calendula and violas, a crumbling of feta cheese, some toasted walnuts, with a dressing of good balsamic vinegar and organic olive oil, and you'll be tempted to get behind in your gardening tasks more often. After all, rescue plants are also perfect for appeasing a hungry spring gardener.
By: Justin Russell
First published: October 2011