Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pineapple Guava - Fruit and Flower

Dear Folks,

For quite a number of years I have been telling folks about the incredible taste of the pineapple guava flower - like eating a piece of candy.  I am so fond of it - I featured it on the cover of my "Edible Landscaping..." book.

We have gotten so much into the habit of eating the flowers in May and ignoring the ripe fruit in November I decided to "try" and pay attention this year to the fruit.  The trick is to catch it when it is just ripe - literally when it starts falling from the tree.

This slightly acidic kiwi tasting fruit is a real treat when you catch them just right, the fruit does have a 'pineapple' taste.  While the rind might be edible it really is not tasty.  We frequently just pick up the fruit, wipe it off and break or cut open and scape out the fruit with our teeth.  I decided to make up a bowl of it the morning of November 16th (when the cut fruit in the photo was done).  Slice open the fruit and a spoon easily scoops out the ripen fruit center.

The fruit on the right of the plate has a 'bloom' on it - yeast similar to that found on apples or grapes, the one to the left of it I had already wiped off.  I need to do some research and find out if anyone ferments the fruit for whatevers :-)

The flower picture was taken in 2005 when my book came out.

This is really a lovely shrub and does very well in the desert garden with proper culture.  It can easily be pruned to shape like a tree or left as we do as a large specimen shrub.

There is a magnificent example of 'trained-to-tree' at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum beside the herb garden, near the stone cottage.  Until it flowers in the spring the BTA tree looks like any other tree.

This is an evergreen with green glossy finish on top of the leaves and a gray downy underside.

All-round lovely plant with edible flowers and fruit.  What is not to love!

Be safe as you go through this holiday season, and whatever your beliefs, be kind to one another,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jerusalem Artichoke Harvest - November 22, 2012

Dear Folks,

The morning of Thanksgiving we dug the best performing (at least by size of plants) location of my Jerusalem Artichoke experiment.  I planted a single tuber there this winter (February).  Several weeks ago I did a post on the other location and showed 'a few' smallish tubers.

For you gardeners who want to try these, the other location was watered less and that obviously made a difference.  They survived and did "okay" but not robustly.

The ones harvested in the picture here are a testament to the possibilities, given they came from a single tuber.  The plants themselves were well over 7 feet tall and had to be tied up to the nearby fig tree.  They were watered every 4 days in the summer and are back to every 5 days now.  As the temperatures go down the bed will be watered less - back to every 6-7 days.

I took what I wanted to use Thanksgiving day and put the rest back in a hole to 'hold' -- I tried to find information on the ones that were green (you can see them to the side).  I could not find totally informative info on them and chose not to use them.  I will replant when I finish using up the nice white ones.  A rough estimate would be the total roots available and usable would have filled my gallon mixing bowl - from one tuber.  I know I keep repeating that, but it is important.  The invasiveness of these members of the sunflower family  are well documented elsewhere but now I know they could take over a desert garden too.

For this reason I will grow them only in this one garden area where I can control them.  But I look forward to multiple harvests during the year and fun experimenting with using them.

They are a nice crunchy taste raw and can be cooked in a number of ways.

The flowers do not put out the typical seed, but I took some anyway and will see if they sprout.  The pollinators liked the flowers so even if the seed is not viable the flowers did double duty with their happy sunflower faces and nectar for the flutter-bys :-)

Have a nice day in the garden,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady