Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
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Over the next year, the herb of the month feature will focus on those unusual herbs that a professional grower may occasionally be asked to supply. These profiles are supplied by Herbalpedia
Cultivation: Start the plant indoors in individual pots 8-10 weeks before the date of the last frost and transplant outdoors when the night temperature has warmed to 58F or above. Seed may also be direct-sown when the soil has warmed. Plant it 1 inch deep at the foot of a 3-6 foot trellis, crossed and tied bean poles, or at the base of a fence, and thin the seedlings 6-12 inches apart. Seed can also be sown in a 5-10 gallon container set with a short trellis. In a heated greenhouse it will grow as a perennial for several years. Very susceptible to frost. It prefers a well-amended, moisture-retentive, rich soil with plenty of manure. Grow in full sun, but in hot weather climates provide afternoon shade. It does well with regular feedings of nitrogen-rich fertilizer throughout the growing season. Gathering may begin 12 weeks after planting; cut 3-5 inches from the tip of the branches, which encourages succulent new growth and produces a lush and beautiful twining vine. It is easily propagated from stem cuttings. Seeds are viable for 5 years.
Culinary Uses: Malabar spinach is a successful replacement in any recipe that calls for spinach, including all the classics: spinach soup, soufflés, quiche, omelettes, frittatas, and with a little butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper. It can be cooked like chard but with more substance. Like okra, it has a mucilaginous quality when cooked at length. An infusion of the leaves is a tea substitute. The purplish sap from the fruit is used as a food coloring in pastries and sweets. The color is enhanced by adding some lemon juice
The comprehensive revised edition of Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs is available from author, most internet booksellers, bookstores, and in libraries. It can be ordered from the distributor, Independent Publishers Group.
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