Monday, January 17, 2011

On Having Enough Space

In my garden, arugula has naturalized. It mingles with the weeds under the lemon tree, it springs up along the edges of the beds, and it even appears in my lawn. Though it grows everywhere on its own, I plant it every year anyway. When arugula grows where I plant it, crowded together in a concentrated space, it yields tender, uniform, pretty green leaves.

Its tender leaves yield it vulnerable to the slugs that hunt in the thick forest its leaves create, yet it is mild and easy to harvest with sharp shears.

But when arugula springs up on its own, somewhere separate from other plants, somewhere with sun all to itself and where the wind can catch each frill on each leaf, it grows completely differently.

The leaves are wildly irregular and wildly beautiful. They are veined with burgundy and speckled with silvery hairs. Wiry and tough, the plants hold up better to garden marauders. I'm less likely to toss them in my salad. I'm more likely to stop and admire them.

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If you'd like to see what others across the world are harvesting this week, visit Daphne's Dandelions to see the roundup for Harvest Monday.

8 comments:

Robin said...

That's very interesting how the arugala has seeded itself around your yard.

villager said...

I wish I had arugula going wild instead of weeds! I'm growing it in containers in the greenhouse and in a coldframe. Like your photos show, the leaves and plants are really quite beautiful if you look at them closely.

Lucy said...

I love that those wilder plants develop hairy stalks - like spiders legs. Rather lovely - you must cook them, I reckon, maybe wilted in a pan with garlic and lemon? Beautiful photos, darls.

michelle said...

The more robust arugula that volunteers solo is good in pesto or cooked. I agree about eating it in salads though, it's too assertive, but it is beautiful as your photos show.

kitsapFG said...

Have to admire the tenacity of our pampered cultivars - if left to their own devices to fend for themselves. Interesting change that occurs when given more growing room and better conditions.

Daphne said...

In my last garden I had the umbellifloras growing wild all around the garden. Especially the dill and the coriander. I swear they were trying to take over the garden.

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

How interesting, Christina! It's kind of the arugula version of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."

Christina said...

Sorry I've been so slow to reply, friends. I'm getting over the worst bout of flu I've ever experienced, and it has really taken its toll on all parts of my life.

Robin: Well, I guess most of our veggies were once a weed!

Villager: Don't worry, I've got plenty of weeds, too!

Lucy: Yes, with garlic and lemon. Yum. And, thank you!

Michelle: Do you do a basic pine-nut, garlic, olive oil pesto with it, or do you use walnuts or another nut? Sounds like a great idea.

kitsapFG: They're tougher than we let them be, aren't they!

Daphne: As hard as I work to try to get coriander growing everywhere, it just won't naturalize in my yard. Fennel on the other hand . . ..

Terry B.: HA! What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and make sure to keep it out of the salad bowl.