In early spring, long before any of the annual crops are ready, perennial herbs are sending up their bright green leaves. First of the season are the Egyptian Onions whose leaves have a tangy oniony flavor; they are also known as Walking Onions because their tops form bulblets which fall over and root. I've been cutting up the hollow leaves for my lunchtime cole slaws, made with cabbage from the root cellar.
Chives have a milder onion flavor and I rely on them when the Egyptian onion leaves get tough, which they will in a little while.
I love the celery-like flavor of lovage, and have been adding some cut up leaves to my slaws along with the Egyptian onions. A favorite recipe with lovage is the Potato-Lovage Fritatta from Deborah Madison, which I'll make this week.
Then there is sorrel, for me an indispensable herb for soups and sauces all summer long, with its spicy lemony taste. A favorite spring to summer recipe is another from Deborah Madison's The Greens Cookbook, a Sorrel-Onion Tart.
I generally get to enjoy these green for a couple of weeks before the first of the perennial asparagus emerges from the ground, but yesterday I had quite a shock: several spears of asparagus were standing tall in the bed, a couple had even gone by. Asparagus is a May vegetable, usually ready in early to mid May. Last year's snows made the crop late, but in 2010 the first spears were ready on May 4th, in 2009 on May 8th, 2008 May 10th, 2007 May 14th. As you can see, never have I seen an asparagus spear in April. And, the dandelions are blooming in the lawn, another May phenomenon happening in April. And the lawn needs mowing! I hope this year is a strange blip and not a speeded up arrival of climate change. At least it finally rained last night, breaking a very long dry spell with 1.3 inches of rain.