Coronavirus challenges us – each and every one, all over the world, in all our various situations and lifestyles – how to measure time. There’s a nice song I recall that has a line about measuring hours with teaspoons… Some people working from home during the pandemic are measuring time with clothes: working means socks-on, not working-time means socks-off. Others mark time with alcohol, with the day carved into a timetable consisting of time for tea and the time for tipples, which in truth is a slippier kind of practice.
So how about measuring time by growth in plant-life? Just check out what a difference two weeks makes! The first photograph shows the artichoke growth from mid-April.
The second, with the artichoke clearly growing well above the fence-line, was taken at the start of May. Oh my! How those artichokes grow! They’ve clearly done more than double in size in a mere two weeks.
We used to be able to look down and take a photograph of the top artichoke by looking down with the camera, as was the case with the photograph to the left. Now, to get a similar picture, the photographer would have to be at least nine feet tall! Or standing on a tall ladder…
With growth this fast and steady, the day of our artichoke feast approaches. We thought we’d do it on the anniversary of my brother’s visit last year, when he did the cooking of the artichokes and I made a simple lovage and flat leafed parsley risotto. It was an awesome and highly memorable evening meal.
Lovage is a perennial garden herb which I absolutely adore, and there are two good sized plants growing just to the right of the artichoke, so making a joint feast of these two garden plot neighbours particularly fitting. Lovage is very powerful and aromatic – somewhat like a combined flat leaf parsley and celery. It is sometimes considered like a wild celery, which to my mind is a little off the mark. In any case, it’s powerful and should be used sparingly for best results.
Regular trimming of the plant encourages young growth. I often cut lovage and have it in a vase of water as a touch of green in the kitchen, but use very little of it (I do the same with mint). Nevermind: vases full of lovage adds colour and scent to the kitchen, and leaves can be torn off from and added in small amounts to things like egg dishes (omelettes and scrambled eggs with onion, for example). Lovage also adds a certain je ne sais quoi to stir fries of allotment-fresh Swiss chard and spinach. The stuff you don’t use (which admittedly is most of the vase full of greenery) makes a good contribution to the compost heap, and I’m pretty sure the worms love lovage just as much as I do.