URBAN GARDENER: Ancient leafy green intruder caught my eye

Sorrel Is An Amazing Herb and its versatility continues to surprise me.

Sorrel Is An Amazing Herb and its versatility continues to surprise me.

It arrived in my patio garden last summer, uninvited. The seed was likely dropped there by a passing bird. The first inclination is to yank out any identified weedy plant but there was something about its leafy greenness that caused me to relent.

It survived the harsh waterfront winter and this spring when I was scratching around in the raised bed looking for a herb to punch up my store-bought lettuce the intruder caught my eye.

Sorrel looks rather like romaine in appearance but with a distinct lemony bite.

It turned out to be just the right addition to add taste and interest to a limp leafed head lettuce purchased in a local market.  As well it is brilliant addition to a pot of  potato soup combined with early chives and lightly grilled onions.

My sorrel is now beginning to bolt but it is producing stems full of tiny seeds.

If you are curious about this ancient plant send me an e-mail at mostler@telus.net and I will search out a source for seeds or mail you a few seeds from my garden.

Speaking of “Bolting” have you gardeners noticed that so many of your plants are going to seed, practically as soon as they are ready for picking?

My information was passed on by a local garden club authority who explained that  the long very cold spell in May shortly after plants had begun to mature gave the wrong message to the affected plants.

Poor things thought winter was arriving and as their mission while on earth is to reproduce they immediately went in to seed production.

Fortunately, I now practice succession planting and had a wide array of young seedlings sprouting in containers on my sunny window sills so I was able to replace bolting plants with young starters.

“But How Do You Really Know It’s Organic?” is a question posed by so many cynical acquaintances as I confidently laud the benefits of organic vegetables.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, after a two year phase-in period for Canadian farmers and operators, has announced that effective 1 July 2011, products labeled “organic” in Canada must carry the label “Biologique Canada Organic” logo.

Now in full effect, the regulations have leveled the playing field and given domestic and foreign consumers confidence in the organic label.

In addition to providing consumers with confidence at home, the Canadian organic system is trusted by our two major trading partners, the United States and the Europe Union.

On July 25 The Local Agriculture Steering Committee, of which I am a member, will bring forward to City Council the plan for developing a strong agriculture sector in Campbell River.

Many of readers will be surprised to know that one third of the land within the city borders is designated Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) .

The committee has spent the past year, with the assistance of staff and land specialists, identifying areas of Campbell River with strong soil values and the potential for agricultural use. Vancouver Island once produced more than half of the region’s food requirements.  In the past 50 years this number has dropped to an average of less than 10 percent. Agriculture is now re-establishing itself on the Island and the Committee’s vision is that Campbell River become more sustainable with the production of local food grown on its’ own land.

This is an exciting time to be setting new directions and looking at new ways to develop our community and become part of the exciting locally grown food movement on Vancouver Island.