Shiso (Perilla frutescens) is a beautiful herb that self-seeds with abandon. It’s flavour is hard to pinpoint, something akin to mint meets a savoury herb like caraway with a hint of citrus. I’ve been growing it for years, but it’s aggressive nature always seemed to be curbed on the roof where conditions could be exceedingly hot mid-summer. It’s population of the rooftop’s pots was never more than I could handle or use within any given growing season.
We all have one plant (or a few) that we do not understand. For me it was radish. In my first few years as a rooftop gardener, every radish crop I tried to grow came out wooden, under-sized, and pathetic. Radishes are easy to grow (given the right conditions) and I eventually figured out what it was that I was doing wrong. These days I can look back on that time and laugh, but in the moment my so-called “failure” in this area was a bit demoralizing.
It has been unbearably hot and muggy here over the last few days. If you’re living with the same conditions, I recommend waiting for the humidity to lift before attempting to air dry any significant quantity of herbs. However, the other night Davin picked too much thyme for a meal and spontaneously constructed this contraption as a way to ensure that the herbs were able to get air on all sides and avoid going moldy.
It’s just a paper bag clipped to the rope that raises and lowers the kitchen blinds by a close pin. It isn’t fancy, but I was impressed by his ingenuity.
This morning I was over at a friend’s, and she had set up a similar contraption to dry large quantities of lavender. Her’s was a clothesline strung across the kitchen with each bunch of lavender in its own paperbag to catch the flowers that would otherwise fall and drop onto her head and into meals at the table. She also used clothespins to hold the bags on the line.
The voodoo lily’s (Amorphophallus bulbifer) reputation as a real stinker precedes it, and I have to admit that I have always been a bit hesitant about introducing something that smells badly to my home. Still, as the bulb drew closer to blooming, it was curiosity, and the worry that I would miss the event that made me bring it right up to my kitchen door.
On the morning that it opened, Davin woke up before me (as he does) and opened the kitchen window to let in a breeze. He says he was instantly whacked in the face by a terrible smell. Within an hour it had permeated the entire house!
Lara was randomly selected as the most recent book giveaway, Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal. I’ve decided to extend this giveaway to one person on the newsletter list. I’ll be randomly choosing a winner on the morning of Monday, July 22, so you have until then to sign up. Please note that you are in the draw if you are already receiving the weekly newsletter.