Sunday, April 17, 2011
Edible Garden in the Hill Country
Pictured above is my first strawberry of the year. It is a perfectly formed deep red berry. Seeing this strawberry grow in the garden is pure delight. Strawberries are in the Rosacea, or rose family. Recently, I read freeze dried strawberries are being used to slow down the growth of pre-cancerous lesions in the esophagus (Ohio State University). Apparently, preliminary research is suggesting a daily dosage of about 2 ounces of freeze dried strawberries helped 29 out of 36 people with precancerous lesions. It seems like a great break through considering strawberries are thought to have anti-cancer, cardiovascular, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
The benefits of this plant are not only in the berry, but the leaves as well. The leaves can be used in product making as well as made into tea. The strawberry leaf infusion is high in vitamin C, calcium and trace minerals. I love plants that can offer edible rewards as well as lend medicinal benefits through their leaves; it's a win/win! I use the leaves once they are completely dried in teas, facial scrubs and lotions. For tea infusions, it is important to use the teas once completely dried. Compounds in the leaves change during the drying process and if ingested in this stage can be toxic and lead to nausea. Dried leaves (as well as just picked leaves) are safe and healthy to consume....just not anywhere in between.
This lovely plant is an eye dazzling scarlet charlotte swiss chard. The red stalks of this dark green leafy vegetable are striking and eye pleasing in the garden as well as on the plate. Chard is high in vitamins K, A, & C as well as high in magnesium, potassium and iron. You can harvest the leaves of this plant and sauté them with shallots, garlic and olive oil with a quick squirt of lemon to finish it off - nutritive goodness straight from the garden.
That's all for now from the hill country garden. My next post will feature a very special herb, Gotu Kola. I'm growing this lovely specimen in pot to study its habits. I'll also be introducing you to my beautiful yarrow plant I have in the garden. It is an herb to meet!
Until next time....keep your hands dirty and your food clean!