Rhubarb sprouting on April 23, 2009 in author Edward C. Smith’s garden, located in Southern Vermont. Photo by Sylvia Ferry Smith.

Rhubarb sprouting on April 23, 2009 in author Edward C. Smith’s garden, located in Southern Vermont. Photo by Sylvia Ferry Smith.

That’s not a misprint. There has been a harvest from the Smith garden already this spring, and there promise to be more in the near future.

The first harvest — very soon after the last of the snow melted in early April — was parsnips. We’d planted them almost a year ago, in early May of 2008; they spent the winter under some straw mulch and a heavy cover of snow. And that cold winter caused the parsnips to transform themselves from decent tasting but pretty bland to sweet and delicious. Dig them as soon as the snow is gone and the ground has thawed: Parsnips lose flavor quickly as soon as they start to grow new foliage. (Parsnips, like carrots, are biennials; they’ll sprout new foliage the second year and go to seed.)

Next harvest? It looks like that will be asparagus, probably before May Day. Then rhubarb.

Young spinach just right for harvest. April 23, 2009 in author Edward C. Smith's garden, located in Southern Vermont. Photo by Sylvia Ferry Smith.

Young spinach just right for harvest. April 23, 2009 in author Edward C. Smith’s garden, located in Southern Vermont. Photo by Sylvia Ferry Smith.

We’ve been having fresh salads of spinach and lettuce for a week now from plants whose seeds were sown in early April in our solar greenhouse. (About the same results could be expected in a cold frame.)

The last harvest is a real bonus; it comes from plants I didn’t have to seed or tend or pay any attention to at all: dandelion greens. I reap a free meal just by weeding the garden beds.

Edward C. Smith

Edward C. Smith is the best-selling author of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible and The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible. For more than 30 years he and… See Bio

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