Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sun Drying Roselle - Perfect Day For It!

Dear Folks,

It is supposed to be high 90s today, so it is the PERFECT time to sun dry edibles.

I've been trying to get to this for several days now and finally kicked myself into gear.  I spent over an hour harvesting them and separating the petals from the immature seed pod.

A bit of work but worth it to have the dried petals ready for use anytime I want to make something with them.  The fresh calyx need to be used within a few days of harvest, so drying the extra abundance and using our hot sun is a win/win.

I picked up these used trays a few years ago, without the electric base, because I was looking for a way to expand how much drying room I had.  I filled 4 trays and probably will get near a quart of dried petals when it is finished and they may even be finished today.

If not I bring the trays in overnight so they do not reabsorb moisture and then put them back out tomorrow when the sun is on the table.

I just love these jewel-like edibles!

If you have not grown Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), you should consider sowing the seeds next April.  The leaves and the flower calyx are totally edible with a wonderful lemony / cranberry flavor - and oh, by the way - full of Vitamin C.

I am out of town for about a week and will resume posting when I get back.

I hope you have a wonderful time in your garden and kitchen with your garden bounty.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Ramps Growing Trial Started.

Ramps-Courtesy of Wiki-Commons
Dear Folks,

Recently someone started a post on one of the Facebook groups I am a member of.  I try to answer questions and along the way I am learning too.  One of my readers called it to my attention with the wish that I look into growing Ramps and sharing the information with them.  YES! of course :-)

I looked into growing Ramps a year or two ago, but due to way-too-much-going-on, I never got further than checking some growing background.

Years ago I read about Ramps because of the story Rapunzel, where the pregnant wife craves Ramps.  Many other versions of Rapunsel has her craving radishes.  The word Rampion is alternately used for onions or radishes.  The husband steals some from the witches garden and the story goes on to the punishment by the witch and the story of Rapunzel's long hair.

RampsAllium tricoccum (commonly known as ramp, ramps, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic) is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. [source Wikipedia.]

So what is the allure of growing Ramps?  It is another wild edible, much loved and looked for in the Spring.  Ramps are also considered a spring tonic, which makes sense being a member of the onion family.

Cultivating them is the challenge, so I've begun what is a 3 stage trial test of seeds I just purchased.  I bought online from the  I enlisted my friend Jacq Davis of Epic Yard Farm to start her own trial by sending her half of the seeds I received.

The instructions for growing this Forest Floor edible are interesting:

Sow outdoors and then wait 1-2 years for germination! The seed requires a warm, moist period to break root dormancy and a subsequent cold period to break shoot dormancy.  -- Seedman

OR, "Mix seeds with damp sand and seal in plastic bags and store in a warm (90 degrees) place for 60-90 days.  Then, place in cold (33-38 degrees) for 60-90 days, then sow."

Ramps grow in shady, forest floor conditions.

Here is the plan I am starting.  I just sowed 6 seeds in 2 different spots (3 each) in my gardens where there is quite a bit of shade, with regular watering.  I chose to put each seed in a jiffy pellets so I can keep them contained, then "planted" the pellets, covered with about a half inch of soil and topped with a sprinkle of compost.

This is TRIAL 1 - I am hoping the soil stays warm enough to start the "warm" conditioning, followed by our winter for the "cold" conditioning.

TRIAL 2:  I will sow seeds the same way in either late February or early March.  Based on our climate - I don't expect great things from Trial 2.

TRIAL 3:  I will sow the last of the seeds August 1st.  My hope is August/September will create the warm and following with winter cold, I hope to have really nice plants coming up in the Spring of 2018.

If Trial 1 works then some of the "you can't grow that here" thoughts may be happily answered with a Yes, we can! And, without the 1-2 year wait time.  Hopeful! :-)

My gut instinct is that Trial 3 will be the most successful.  We shall see.  These garden journeys are so much fun as I am always up to trying something wonderfully edible in the desert garden.

I would love to add "Ramps" to my month-by-month gardening calendar.

Have a great day in the garden.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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