An excellent vegetable, very nourishing and digestible. It is a native British plant, and grows wild in many parts of England and Scotland, though, of course, the wild plant is wonderfully inferior to the tenderly-nurtured and expensive garden asparagus.
Also a delicate and nourishing vegetable, a native of Italy, introduced in the reign of Henry VIII.
Sea-kale was discovered and brought into general use about a hundred years ago by Dr. Lettsom, a celebrated physician and botanist. He happened to find some plants pushing themselves up through the sand on the coast near Southampton, and on inquiry found that the country-people had long been in the habit of boiling the shoots and eating them. The doctor tasted them, and thought them so good that he sent some seed to his friend Mr. Curtis, the originator of the Botanical Magazine, who had a nursery garden in Lambeth Marsh. Mr. Curtis wrote a book on "Sea Kale," which brought it into notice, and he sold the seed at high prices. The fisherman's weed is now a dainty for rich tables.
The Rhubarb used for making spring tarts and puddings is the foot-stalk of the leaf of the rhubarb plant, a native of Asia, introduced in 1573. Several kinds are now grown in England. It is a very useful plant, as it takes the flavour of any fruit boiled with it, and thus will help to make jams and marmalades cheaply. For example, if mixed with raspberries it will take their flavour, or with oranges, it will help diminish the expense pulp for marmalade. It makes a good marmalade (with almonds and lemon juice) itself, (see "Model Cookery,") and is wholesome boiled in milk.
In season: Autumnal months.
The Leek is a native of Switzerland. It is the badge of Wales, and worn in honour of St. David on his day.
Chives Are native plants of Britain.
We mention this plant next, because it contains the same peculiar principle as the onion - allyle, combined with sulphur and a substance called by chemists cyanogen. This substance depriving the garlic oil of its horrid smell, leaves a different odour, though still a pungent one.
Horseradish is used as a condiment, either scraped or in sauce, with roast beef or boiled hen pheasant (see Warne's "Model Cookery "). The sticks of horseradish, when taken up, can be kept in sand in an outhouse or cellar till wanted.
In season: Long - April and May; Turnip - June and July.
Is a native of China, and was introduced into England before 1584. There are numerous varieties; the long Japan radish is the last. In a degree the radish possesses the oil of the horseradish; this gives it its pungent quality, which stimulates the stomach and helps it to digest other food.
In season: Spring - April to June; Winter - November to December.
Spinach is a nice vegetable; the Flanders kind is the best. It is valuable as producing both a summer and a winter crop. Of the winter crop only the outer leaves should be gathered, and it will continue to produce fresh ones for many months.