My greenhouse is bursting at the seams. Thankfully, I did not jump the gun (where did that expression come from?) and plant out the many peppers, tomatoes, squashes, watermelons and cucumbers. I did plant a test row of beans, a few tomatoes and a couple of zucchini. Even the double covering of Reemay could not save them. It froze two nights last week. My son Jeremiah lost all his tender vegetable starts — blackened the first morning. Mine, however, died that slow, lingering death which alternately gave hope and despair.

Instead, last weekend I set out beds of my oddities. I love to try unusual things. For several years, I have been happy with celeriac grown for its large white root. I use Giant Prague, introduced in 1871. It is very popular in parts of Europe. Whippoorwill Farm featured it last season in its CSA program.

For the second year I seeded parsnips inside and set them out with a good distance between seedlings. I thoroughly enjoyed them this past late winter; pureed with potatoes is a favorite preparation.

Last year I tried okra. Granted, it is a beautiful plant worthy of a place in the flowerbed, but as a vegetable — not so much. We tried it sauteed with garlic at a summer potluck supper. I don’t believe it received one single compliment. In fact, we picked unappetizing strings from our teeth while laughing and complaining. It’s a southern thing, apparently. Did you ever notice how southerners end every insult with “bless ’er heart?” For example: She’s as ugly as an ole stick, bless ’er heart!

I digress! For the first time I am trying both salsify and scorzonera; these are European favorites grown since the 13th century. The description of salsify from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is: heirloom, native of Europe, tasty in soups and stews, or cooked alone. Plant in spring, dig in fall, a nonsweet parsnip-like root. The variety I chose was Mammoth Sandwich Island, which dates back to the 1800s. Scorzonera Geante Noire De Russie is much like salsify but with extra long dark roots. It is a favorite with chefs and has a delicious sweet taste. We’ll let you know in the fall how they worked out. I started a huge amount of each and was able to share at our final meeting of Homegrown for the season. Last Sunday we planned some garden visits with each other over the summer. It will be fun to see each other’s gardens while they are producing.

One other crop I am trying for the first time in years is fennel (Finnochio). I am talking about the anise-flavored bulb favored by Italians. It is wonderful raw.

My children attended the Tisbury School. They are in their 30s now, so we’re talking 20 years ago. Every year at Memorial Day they had the little parade and ceremony at Owen Park. All the children tossed some flowers into the harbor to commemorate the fallen war heroes. Every year I sent them off to school with their bouquets of lilacs. Here it is a week before the big weekend and my lilacs have been long gone for a couple of weeks. Also, I used to notice that the bridal wreath spirea made its appearance just days prior to what used to be called Decoration Day. Dare I say global warming, aka climate change? I wouldn’t want to alienate Glenn Beck and his fans.

I want to back up briefly to the aforementioned Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalogue. It can be found at for you computer types, or at 417-924-8917 to request a copy. It’s a beauty and is filled with interesting quotations. I need to share a couple.

From Daniel Webster: “Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.”

Ben Franklin offers this: “There seems to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein a man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a continual miracle wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry.”

Indulge me please, one more, by Thomas Edison:

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”