Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
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Herb of the Month
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
Culture: Scented geraniums are well suited for growing in containers, but can also be planted in the ground. They thrive in sunny location in evenly moist soil. They are occasionally grown from seed but do better from rooted cuttings. Water them well several hours before taking cuttings. Cut “slips” 3 to 5 inches long with a very sharp knife or nurseryman’s clippers, sterilized with alcohol. The best cuttings are from a stem that “snaps.” Cut below an internode at an angle and remove lower leaves and stipules. Lay the cuttings out for 24 hours to “callus.” This stimulates the growth of new cells on the wound. Filtered light, a dry atmosphere, and no more than 70oF assures the best callusing. Placing cuttings in a frost-free refrigerator for 12-to 36 hours assures good callusing. It is not necessary to use a rooting hormone on geraniums. However, if you are going to root them in sand or soil, the fungicide contained in rooting compound may prove helpful. Stick the callused cuttings upright into the soil medium. Put this in a warm place in filtered light. In two weeks or so the cuttings will develop roots. Certain varieties do better in a rich loam as opposed to ordinary potting soil: Mint (Tomentosum), apple, apricot, strawberry, Mabel Grey. Transplant to garden if desired, adding soil amendments if necessary. Remove any leaves as they yellow. They make excellent standards.
Not all scented geraniums have tastes that
complement cooking. Recipes call for either rose, lemon, or mint. Most
often their flavors are infused into the dish and they are removed and
discarded before serving, although fresh leaves can be used as a
decorative garnish. The leaves are used fresh. Scenteds are typically
used in sweet dishes. Rose varieties add a delicate but stimulating flavor
to sugar which is then used in baked goods or tgo sweeten teas. Stack
clean, dry leaves in a large canister between 1 inch layers of sugar.
Place the canister in a warm spot for two to four weeks, and then sift out
the leaves. Some cooks recommend first bruising the leaves to impart more
flavor. The sugar can be substituted for all or part of the plain sugar
called for in recipes for white cakes or icings. Small rose- or
lemon-scented leaves can also be candied by dipping them in egg white and
coating them with sugar to create impressive cake decorations. Dry them on
a rack before using.
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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