Saturday, 27 March 2010

Spring flowers, Lezignan onions and wild asparagus


There’s a partridge hiding in the shadow under these olive trees, and a colourful mix of grape hyacinths and dandelions in the foreground.

It’s the time for planting oignons de Lézignan, the variety of sweet onions which come from the village of Lézignan la Cèbe near Pézenas (ceba is the Occitan word for onion and the village has taken the French version of this word as part of its name).  I wrote about this last year on this blog.  Last year our neighbour went to buy them for us from Monsieur Lucas, one of several producers in the village, the one he says is the best, and this year it was our turn to go. 

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M. Lucas has a website, advertised in the photo (left) for orders by post: 
I liked the onion sign attached to a rubbish bin!

As M. Lucas’s website tells us: ‘La Cébe des Lézignan es douça coumo lou pan’ (Occitan for ‘Lézignan onions are sweet as bread’.  Last year we enjoyed them raw in salads until the grew bigger and stronger-flavoured when we barbecued them and cooked them in sauces.

Lo Jardinièr planted them today in a double row, cutting off the tops of the leaves and putting them not too deep and lying slightly against the earth beside them.  Once they settle into the ground they straighten themselves up.

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While he was doing that, I sowed the first haricot beans of the season.  According to one of our friends and gardening neighbours, St Joseph’s Day, 19 March, is the time to start sowing haricot beans, but although we’d prepared the ground for one reason or another I didn’t get round to sowing them until today, which according to the Gardener’s calendar is a good phase of the moon for them.

And it’s asparagus time!

Looking back at my blog posts for this time last year, I noticed that when I wrote about Lézignan onions I also wrote about wild asparagus.  So, it’s not surprising that today we’ve picked the first wild asparagus of this spring.  We didn’t have to go far – when we first took over our garden it had been unused for many years, so wild plants had taken over.  When we found wild asparagus plants we either moved them to somewhere convenient or left them where they were in some of the wilder areas of the plot.  Today we picked a bunch which made a tasty first course for our lunch, cooked in boiling water for about 10 minutes and served very simply with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper and bread.  They have all the flavour of fresh cultivated asparagus but intensely concentrated into thinner spears – wonderful!

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Jasmine flowers too …




The jasmine we planted a couple of years ago is flowering for the first time.


Ewa said...

I like the way you planted onion - since I am not very experienced vegetable grower, I need any piece of advice how to do things.
This onion you have mentioned is really interesting - do you plan to spare some seeds this year?

Heiko said...

I've been having so much wild asparagus in the last few days that my wee started smelling badly, a side effect of eating asparagus. These onions do indeed sound nice!

Stefaneener said...

I think it's planting time here, too. I have got to get outside with a shovel! Your place looks beautiful. I love the slanty onions.

MulchMaid said...

So interesting to see the planting technique for your onions. I remember planting them some years ago and they didn't really want to stand up. This makes so much sense!
I love the idea of wild asparagus! Do you think it might grow in the coastal Pacific Northwest if I could even find seeds or roots to plant?

Jan said...

Goodness, I seem to have missed a lot of posts while we were away. Onions are "les cebes" in Catalan, in fact I could understand your sentence! Lots of wild grape hyacinths around here too.