One of the pleasures of edible gardening for me is growing new plants and finding ways to incorporate their uniqueness into meals. Sometimes the anticipation is better than the reality (New Zealand Spinach, I'm talking to you) and sometimes you find something new that adds a different twist to favorite dishes and inspires creativity in the kitchen. Shiso, or Perilla, is a new herb in my garden this year and has been fun to grow and experiment with.
Rhode Island folks, the September issue of RILocal Magazine is now available. Look for it at your local supermarket and cafe. My column this month is on transplanting strawberry runners and taking advantage of the cooler, wetter weather in September to make changes in your garden - planting new perennials and shrubs,or moving old ones.
Some of the happiest plants in my garden right now are the jalapeno peppers. They are loving the hot weather and producing like crazy. I am growing a 'giant' variety and the peppers are living up to their name - they are huge and very spicy. My family loves 'hot' food so preserving this crop for us to add to our winter meals is a must.
The sunflowers in my front yard edible landscape bloomed this week. This has made me ridiculously happy. They really are a joyous flower. I planted the variety Sunseed, specifically because it is a heavy seed producer. Once the seeds start forming, I will have to cover the heads with a paper bag if I want to harvest any of the seeds (sorry birds and squirrels). Until then, I am soaking up their yellow goodness. Apparently, I am not the only one. As soon as the petals started to open I began to see a new variety of bee in the garden which seems especially enamored with the sunflowers.
In the middle of July my garlic was looking a bit brown and droopy, which meant it was ready for harvest. After gently freeing the bulbs from the earth, I hung them in my garage to cure. It has now been several weeks and the garlic is completely dry and ready for storage.