Artichoke

Globe Artichokes, and Cardoons, their “wild” cousins, are varieties of edible thistles, and are both vegetable, and healing herb. The globe artichoke is a cultivated food worldwide, especially loved in the Mediterranean where it originated. The edible portion of the plant is the flower buds (8-15cm in diameter) before the flowers come into bloom. Historically the leaves were also eaten by the Greeks and Romans. A tea can be made from the flowering parts. The flower buds of the cardoon can also be eaten as small (and spiny) artichokes, but it is actually the stems, and leaf stalks that are eaten, and is a sought after delicacyRead More →

Caigua (prounounced Kai-wa), also known as achocha (achuqcha), sparrow gourd, lady’s slipper or simply stuffing cucumber, is a herbaceous vine from Central America. Known in cultivation only (no wild forms exist), the plant is grown mainly for its fruit which can be eaten raw when young, or is typically stuffed and cooked when mature. The young shoots and leaves may be eaten as greens too, and it is rumoured to have medicinal value as a natural remedy to reduce cholesterol. Easy to grow, very vigorous, and rewarding as an ornamental plant and delicious vegetable, Caigua comes highly recommended for even novice gardeners.  Size: meters  Position: FullRead More →

Szechuan Buttons

Szechuan buttons are also known as electric daisies, or toothache plant. They come from Brazil and are perennial in warmer climates, but die off in frost or very cold conditions. They are used as a medicinal remedy in various parts of the world, and have culinary uses too – among which is the very fun factor of the flower sending an electric tingling feeling through your mouth before gently numbing it!  Size: 25cm 30cm  Position: Full sun   Well-drained soil  Uses: Edible Medicinal Special InterestRead More →

Heirloom and Open Pollinated Tomato Selection Photograph Description Fruit Size Fruit Colour Fruit Type Maturity Uses Amish Orange Sherbet Heirloom Tomato Amish Orange Sherbet is a good producer of orange-red beefsteak type tomatoes that are large and meaty with a mild, sweet flavour that is pretty low in acidity as well. Indeterminate. Large Bicolor – Orange Red Beefsteak Late (80-100) Fresh Amish Paste Heirloom Tomato Amish Paste is a plum tomato that is often used for cooking and canning. Indeterminate Medium Red Plum Mid (69-80) Cooking (Paste) Canning Berkeley Tie Dye Pink Heirloom Tomato Berkeley Tie Dye Pink was developed by Wild Boar Farms, thisRead More →

Rose Campion

Rose Campion These beautiful little flowering plants – both the red rose campion (L. coronaria) and white rose campion (L. coronaria ‘Alba’) do well in almost any garden situation, but what makes them extra exciting is that they are useful as xeriscaping plants too as they handle droughts really well. Also known as Bloody Mary, Bloody William, Dusty Miller or Mullein Pinks, the plants have soft velvety grey foliage with flower spikes reaching up to 60cm high and flowers are deep cerise pink or white (‘Alba’) in late spring through to early autumn. They selfseed quite readily, so don’t be surprised if you find more of themRead More →

Okinawan spinach

Okinawan Spinach Highly nutritious and medicinally said to lower cholesterol levels, this plant is a great addition to any herb or vegetable garden, as well as being a strikingly beautiful feature plant in the aesthetic garden. With its sprawling habit, you can easily let it grow as a ground cover, or train it up against a trellis for some extra vertical appeal. Okinawan spinach is a perennial and although it flowers late summer through autumn, rarely does it strike from seed, but is easily propagated from cuttings. The leaves are somewhat thick and glossy and are deep green on the upper side while being purple underneath.    Size:Read More →

Seeds inside the bracts

Ah. End of summer. Time to harvest the basil… and the basil seeds!   To many people basil is THE one herb to have in the kitchen garden. And it is also the one plant most often requested from the nursery at the start of Spring. With the variety of basils, their tasty leaves, pretty growing habits, and even medicinal and culturally significant uses, it is easy to see why it is such a popular herb. Although it is possible to grow basil through the year – especially in a sunny windowsill inside the  house (especially the small leaved bushy basil plants such as Minette Basil, Fino VerdeRead More →

Preserving books

Notoriously the hottest summer month, and also one of the driest months, February can be challenging in the garden. Besides the weather, it is also a time of plants maturing, with many annual and biennial herbs going to flower and seed. This bolting may make the garden look scraggly and unkempt, but to the avid seed saver, the ripening seeds are as precious as the main fruit crops (of which there are still many to harvest!) from the garden. Continue to harvest as you did in January – February is easily the most productive harvesting time, with so many crops ripening seemingly all at once. There are still buckets of beansRead More →

Ripe dill seeds

A great many of my umbelliferous plants are going to flower now and seed now, making it a perfect time to save seeds for new plantings. You probably have some umbelliferae in your garden too! It is a big word, for a big family, but it basically means fragrant plants that have an upside down umbrella-like flower. A quick botany lesson Plants belonging to the umbelliferae family are known as the carrot or parsley family, and make up a group of mostly aromatic herbs. A defining characteristic of these plants are that they flower in a simple or compound umbel. An umbel is a flower made up of aRead More →