Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mustard Seeds

Bottom: Your name, I beseech you sir?

Mustardseed: Mustardseed.

Bottom: Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well: that same cowardly giant-like ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house: I promise you, your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire you more acquaintance, good Master Mustardseed.

Over the past nine months, I have gained a tongue-tingling acquaintance with the mustard plants that I tucked into the soil in my backyard last August. The plants began as spiky leaves that shot out horizontally, and that I would snip off for salads and sandwiches over the winter months, but as of April, they've gone into hyperdrive and blossomed into tall, elegant stalks topped with bright yellow flower bunches.

I felt like poor dense Bottom, the weaver with the enchanted donkey's head from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (or in other words, like an ass, or perhaps like "that same cowardly giant-like ox-beef" who had been devouring the leaves without proper mental rumination), as it suddenly dawned on me one day that it was possible to transform this plant into something approximating the Grey Poupon in my fridge. First I would have to find a way to harvest the seeds. I watched the flowers for signs of something more, forgot about them for a couple of weeks, and then suddenly today I walked out into the sunshine to discover this incredible mass of pods, waving in the wind like Titania's fairy helpers.

Here is what the mustard plants looked like in the fall:

I'll need to wait for the pods to grow a bit more and get brittle before I harvest them and hang them in a bag to dry, as instructed by this article. San Francisco weather is so unpredictable, I have no idea when these will be ripe for the plucking. Hopefully I'll be in town when it happens. Get ready for some traveling Weird Vegetables in the coming months...

As we wait for the seeds to ripen, I'll leave you with the lines that end this mustard scene, spoken by Titania, Queen of the Fairies, who has fallen temporarily in love with Bottom:

[To Mustardseed]

Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower.
The moon, methinks, looks with a watery eye;
And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
Lamenting some enforced chastity.
Tie up my love's tongue, bring him silently.



Anonymous said...

ooooh, save I some of thou house-made 'tard, Titiana, I beseech thee!

kale daikon said...

But of course.

mckenzie elizabeth said...

haha! take all the carrots you'd like. I planted some in my garden today. atomic red.

ps. your mustard seed looks really pretty.