Thursday, September 16, 2010
Botanical name: Passiflora edulis L.
Other name: Passiflora, apricot vine, grenadilla, maracuja, maracuya.
Passion fruits are great for use in soft drinks or cocktails. The fruits grow on a climbing plant which is also well known for its beautiful flowers. The passion fruit vine is a strong, vigorous, evergreen climber, produces egg sized fruit filled with wonderfully tart, bright orange pulp and it originated in South America. This uncommon golden passion fruit is native in Malaysia. Passion fruit vines are hardy to 32F, so protect from any frosts. They can withstand short drops below 32F but foliage may die back. It can grow about 20ft per year. The plant vine can live between 5 to 7 years. Passion fruit can grow well in Southern California and Florida.
How to grow
It grows and produces well between altitudes of 2,000 and 4,000 ft (650-1,300 m).
Soil type: light to heavy sandy loams, of medium texture are most suitable, and pH should be from 6.5 to 7.5. If the soil is too acid, lime must be applied. Good drainage is essential to minimize the incidence of collar rot.
Seeds are planted 1/2 in (1.25 cm) deep in beds, and seedlings may be transplanted when 10 in (25 cm) high.
Regular watering will keep a vine flowering and fruiting almost continuously.
Pruning passion fruit is essential to avoid overgrown and fungal diseases.
Late spring to summer
Usually 18 months for first fruit bearing.
Passion fruit falls from the vine when mature, and the fruit is harvested off the ground.
Eat raw as fruit or use the fruit pulps to make juices or addictive.
In Madeira, the juice of passion fruits is given as a digestive stimulant and treatment for gastric cancer.
Good sources of potassium, vitamin A & C and dietary fiber
Friday, August 20, 2010
A red stemmed cultivar of malabar spinach, it can be grown just like it's green stemmed counterpart. Malabar spinach is in the Basellaceae family, not the spinach family. The taste is similar to spinach. Malabar spinach is grown in Far Eastern countries for the shoots and leaves of the plant. It is a tender and fast growing, climbing tropical vine; growing up to 12 feet tall. This variety has a red stem, dark green leaves in thick heart-shaped; the species is called Basella alba rubra. It is also called Ceylon spinach, Vietnamese Spinach (Mong Toi), Indian Spinach, Emperor Vegetable. It is attractive plant treated as an ornamental vine too.
How to grow
Seeds have hard coating and it is suggested to soak seeds in water overnight or the seed skin be scratched before planting. Sow the seed directly on the soil and cover with thin layer of soil.
The plant is almost insect-free and is very easy to grow.
Full sun / light shade; plant outdoors after last expected frost.
It can be grown as a spring-sown annual. Tolerates high rainfall and is extremely heat tolerant; soil pH 6.1 to 6.5.
The soil must be rich and well drained.
Late spring to early summer
Only the leaves and young stems are eaten; they are used in salads or steamed with tofu and ginger. The taste is similar to spinach. It is usually cooked with noodles or soup, stir-fried. They have succulent mucilage (a thick gluey substance produced by most plants) that is uses as a thickener in soups or stews. In Japan, it is cooked in tempura or braised and topped with a sesame dressing.
High in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium; also a good source of chlorophyll and dietary fiber.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Botanical name: Brassica oleracea
Red Russian is kale variety originally from Siberia. It was brought to Canada in the mid-1880s. Red Russian has tender, red leaves with purple veins. Grows to 2 meters tall; 1 meter wide. Blue green oak leaf type brassica with purple veining. Very ornamental and very edible. Very thick stems can withstand heavy snows. Open pollinated heirloom from Russia. Cold hardy to -10C with very little protection. Plants will survive for years if you don't let them set seed. Will self sow and provide an abundance of greens. Leaves are sweet and tender. Use flowering shoots like rapini; turns green when cooked. Good substitute for Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Yummy.
How to grow
Sow 6 mm deep. Keep moist. Opt. germination temp: 15-25 C. Days to germ: 7-14. Culture: full sun; well draining average soil; moderate feeder start almost anytime; indoors Feb. for spring-summer greens or June to over winter to provide sweet tender leaves late winter/early spring.
High in Beta-Carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Potassium.
Red Russian Kale is sweeter, more tender and sturdier than other Kales and Spinaches and is perfect for soups and stir-fries.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Botanical name: Eruca vesicaria
Arugula is a leafy green herb of the mustard family. Known also as rocket, Italian cress, roquette, and rucola has elongated dark green leaves that are lobed like the leaves of an oak. In the ground, the plant resembles a loose lettuce with long, slender leaves. The flavor of the leaves is similarly hot and peppery. The leaves can be between 3 and 8 inches (7.5–20 centimeters) in length, depending on the maturity of the leaf. Native to the Mediterranean region, arugula has been grown as a vegetable since the Roman era. The flowers are small, white with dark centers and can be used in the salad for a light piquant flavor. The seed was used for flavoring oils.
How to grow
Arugula seed prefers a cool soil temperature of 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit and prefer a slightly shaded area in which to grow. For the best results, the soil should be fertile and loose, but Arugula will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and will grow just about anywhere provided water is available
When planting the seeds in the open soil, sow the seeds one inch apart and in rows that are located 12 to 18 inches apart. Cover the seed with 1/8th of an inch of soil and apply water. The seeds should sprout in 3 to 10 days (longer in cooler than ideal temperatures). For a continuous crop, sow another row every two weeks and this will insure that new cuttings are available at regular intervals.
Once the seedlings are established and begin to crowd one another, thin the plants to four inches apart. (At this stage, you are encouraged to use the thinning).
Arugula matures very quickly, typically within 40 days. Care should be taken not to allow the leaves to grow too large as they are susceptible to growing very bitter and will be tough. (Arugula also becomes bitter if grown in full sun, so this is definitely a crop for growing in places where many others will not grow). For the best results, select young, tender leaves.
To harvest simply pick the young leaves when the leaves are still smooth and the plant will keep generating new ones for months. Older leaves are a bit tougher and have a stronger taste.
Botanical name: Delphinium consolida
Also known as Annual Delphinium, Larkspur produces tall, heavily-flowered spikes in a beautiful mixture of blue, pink, lilac, rose, and white colors. Growing vigorously to 4 feet in height, they are excellent along walls and fences or as a backdrop to other flowers in beds. A top notch cut flower.
How to grow
Flower Type: Annual
Bloom Time: Spring to Summer
Height: 3' to 5'
Exposure: Full Sun
When to Sow Outside: Early Spring, as soon as the soil can be worked (2 to 3 weeks before last frost.)
When to Sow Inside: 6 to 8 weeks before last frost.
Seed Depth: 1/4"
Seed Spacing: 1"
Days to Emerge: 10 - 15
Thinning: When 3" tall thin to 1' to 2' apart
Monday, May 10, 2010
Botanical name: Tropaeolum minus
Nasturtium Dwarf Jewel Mixture seeds grow colorful flower as annual plant. nasturtiums are one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed which makes them an excellent plant for young gardeners. The plant is low, it is ideal for massing, borders or for spot color. Does well in cool weather. Excellent cut flowers for small arrangements. Leaves and flowers are edible. The multi-hued blooms make tasty additions to salads as well as bright, edible garnishes for most dishes. The flavor of both the flowers and the leaves is similar to watercress. Nasturtium can be planted outdoors after the last frost in the spring. Nasturtiums will bloom from the summer until the first frost of autumn.
How to grow
Flower Type: Annual
Bloom Time: Spring to Fall
Height: 6" to 12"
Exposure: Full Sun or Light Shade
When to Sow Outside: Spring, after last frost. In warm climates, plant in fall for winter blooms.
When to Sow Inside: Two weeks before last frost. Best to plant directly outside since nasturtiums don't transplant well.
Seed Depth: 1/2 "
Seed Spacing: 2"
Days to Emerge: 10
Thinning: When 2" tall thin to 8" to 12" apart
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Botanical name: Levisticum officinale
Lovage is a lofty perennial aromatic herb plant belonging to the Apiaceae family. The herb bears dark green leaves and greenish yellow flowers. All parts of the plant are highly perfumed. Its scent and flavor are similar to celery. The plant grows up to 6 feet tall, but the leaves can be harvested once the plant is at least 1 foot tall. Leaves and stems are edible. The leaves and seeds or fruit of Lovage are used to flavor food, especially in South European cuisine.
How to grow
Lovage can grow in most soil but prefer moist and well-drained soil. Full sun or partial shade. Temperature is 64-70 F. Keep soil moist for germination and it takes about 14 days to germinate. Sow seed 1/4 inch depth and spacing is 18 inches apart. Regular watering is essential.
lovage is an extremely beneficial herb for the digestive and respiratory systems. Lovage also possesses considerable diuretic and antimicrobial properties and hence it is normally administered for healing urinary tract problems. Apart from these features, lovage stimulates menstruation and alleviates menstrual pain. The warming quality of lovage helps in improving the poor blood circulation system.
Lovage is an excellent ingredient to add flavor or tang to your favorite soups, particularly those that contain potatoes, peas, beans and lentils. The herb and its derivative may also be used to spice up stews like chili, chicken pot pie, stir-fried vegetables and all favorite seafood cuisines. Addition of lovage to tasteless vegetables like summer squash adds flavor and savor to it.