The violets are blooming and as always I am taken in by their sweet fragrance and colourful little faces. I met a gardener yesterday afternoon, a woman decades my senior, and as we spoke of the violets in her garden and our mutual affection for their graceful charm, I was surprised to learn that she did not know that they are edible!
Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica) growing in the garden of the gardener I met yesterday afternoon. She said that, “…they like it underneath the tree.”
I love the combination here of Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica) with chartreuse Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’)
I purchased this particular large, green, plastic container used and for only one dollar at a plant sale in the spring of 2010. It’s not particularly beautiful, but isn’t offensive either — I recognized it right away as a good sized tub with an uncommon depth and girth that would make a happy home for several plants.
I originally used the pot for a mixed scented geranium (Pelargonium) planting that I had in mind at the time. If you’re curious, a photo of it appears on page 123 of my new book, “Easy Growing: Organic Herbs & Edible Flowers from Small Spaces“.
Close up on ‘Mint Mocha’ coleus.
With more space to grow in the ground last year, I allowed myself room to play with ornamentals and even gave up more coveted container space to them. This time around I wanted to plant something in the big green bin that would quickly hang over and hide it completely.
I have so much to tell you about the Ecuadorian food store in my neighbourhood that it was difficult working out where to begin. I’ve travelled in Southern Mexico and I’ve perused many Latin American food stores, yet this store was a treasure trove of exciting food stuffs I had never seen before, primarily from Peru, Ecuador and Columbia. The packaging was delightful, too. But that’s a post in itself.
First up is huacatay, a dark sauce in a jar that had me perplexed. The label identified the main ingredient as “black mint”, but the illustration on the front looked nothing like the black peppermint I am familiar with. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it was a marigold, but even though I eat marigolds (particularly the gem series), I do so in small quantities and could not imagine devoting it to a sauce. Because that seemed illogical, I chalked the illustration up to the sort of packaging that just has any old plant stuck into the design.
I was on Martha Stewart Radio today to talk about my new book about growing herbs and edible flowers. The question was asked, “What is your favourite edible flower?” and I replied, without hesitation, “Nasturtiums, hands down.”
Of course, now as I am typing this, I am hesitating, “But wait… what about roses? You really like roses. Don’t forget violas! You lose your mind over them in the springtime. Scented geraniums… you can’t live without them.” And so on…
Were I stranded on a desert island with only one edible flower at my disposal… I’d probably choose lavender. Okay, bad example.
No, really. I often choose nasturtium when asked this question and I think it comes down to the unexpected. Most people expect edible flowers to taste kind of sweet, floral, and a little bit weird, which is how many flowers smell. When I hold out a nasturtium, which does not have a particularly strong smell, and ask a friend to eat it, no one ever anticipates that their tongue will be met with a burst of sweetness and a spicy, radish-like kick.
Nasturtiums are fun, perhaps more-so than other flowers.
Tomorrow is the big day! Tuesday, Feb 7 is the official release date of my new book Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces. It’s the day that the book shows up on store shelves, pre-orders are shipped, and the online ordering button is switched from “Pre-Order” to “Order.” I’m not yet aware of all of the stores that will be carrying it, but we have made a list of the major online sellers here. Electronic versions of the book will be released in the near future.
In case you’re wondering about its contents, a “Look Inside” feature has been added to the Amazon ordering page, we have made a short Show and Tell video (seen above), and sample pages have been added to the book’s website.
In anticipation of its release, we have also added a number of printable downloads to the website that are related to projects contained within the book. For fun, I made a bonus pdf of a recipe (Spicy Blue Basil Vinegar) that had to be cut from the final print due to space considerations. I know that handfuls of fresh garden basil is a distant dream unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, but I do urge you to make herb vinegars (any herbs will work) when you get the chance. They’re a good way to add some fresh herbal flavour to winter meals. We’re currently enjoying the medley of vinegars I made last fall.
I’m going to be on Martha Stewart Radio tomorrow morning, Tuesday, February 7 at 10:30am EST to talk about growing herbs as well as some of the recipes in the book. If you have satellite radio, you can tune in to hear it at Sirius XM 110.
While I am on the topic of book releases, here’s a peek at the German translation of Grow Great Grub. I can’t wait to see it printed.