SPICE IT UP
Are you a bit of a kitchen whizz with a kitchen garden full of exotic herbs?
Or do you just rely on the same old staples of spices like, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, maybe some chilli pepper or paprika occasionally.
To be confident about using other spices you need to know a bit about them and sometimes, a bit of advice on how to use an unusual spice will give you the kick a long that you need to try something in that casserole or stew that you always make.
So let’s find out more about one such spice.
Selim pepper is also known as African pepper, Ethiopian pepper, Grains of Selim, Uda Pods, Guinea pepper, kimba pepper and Senegal pepper.
Not only is this spice hand picked but it’s possibly one of the rarest spices that Ian’s company has sourced for some time, so that in itself is something to want to try at least.
You might think it too boring to be a hero, but did you know that the earliest mention of lettuce in history is a carving on an Egyptian temple? Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Egypt.
On the other hand the Greeks used lettuce as a medicinal plant to induce sleep.
Lactuca sativa or lettuce is just everywhere and thought to have originated from the wild or prickly lettuce, found as a weed in the Mediterranean.
Did You Know?
The flavour of lettuce is lost in as little as 24 hours, and there's no way supermarket lettuce is only 24 hours old.
The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.. great in salads, tacos, hamburgers!
But here’s the thing not all kinds of lettuce are created alike!
Iceberg, Cos, and Butterhead are Winter Lettuce
This is the time to be plant all those hearting lettuce like, Iceberg, and Butterhead, Cos or Romaine.
These varieties do best in the coolest months because the upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 25°C so they’re not going to bolt to seed now.
Did you know that there are four main types of lettuce grown commercially in Australia and these are three of them?
In northern Victoria the main growing season for these types is May until October.
A lot of people think lettuce is a summer crop but the best growing temperatures are a maximum of 25°C during day and 8°C during the night.
In cool districts, you’ve got until end of May, then again in September until the following May.
In arid areas you have from March until October, in sub- tropical and temperate areas, we’ve hit the jackpot because we can grow lettuce all year round.
Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.
Lettuce has shallow roots, so it dries out easily. You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at least, make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you!
But at the cooler times of year, it’s not so much an issue.
|Iceberg lettuce seedlings|
To sow lettuce seed, either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or sprinkle it over a bed and just water or rake it in. For all you balcony gardeners, any largish pot will do for 3 or 4 lettuce seedlings.
|Cos lettuce seedlings|
If the weather is very dry and your soil sandy, you will need to water every couple of days.
Stick your finger in the soil if not sure. Lettuces have a very shallow root system.
By the way, lettuce seed doesn't germinate that well at soil temperatures over 250C. There should be no problems at this time of year.
Once your lettuce seedlings start appearing start giving them side dressings of compost, worm tea and so on.
Lettuce that seems to be growing slowly, or are starting to show signs of going to seed even though you’ve watered them, is a sure sign that they’ve run out of food.
Did you prepare your veggie bed with enough compost? Of not there are plenty of organic type liquid fertilisers that you can add to your watering can and use on your leafy vegetables.
So why is it good for you?
Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function.
Lettuce has good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
Lettuce obviously won't lead to weight gain as many varieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
Lettuce contains the sedative LAC-TOO-CAREY-UM (lactucarium) which relaxes the nerves without affecting digestion.
So I’m going with the Greeks on this one-remember they used lettuce as a sedative, probably eating it with their evening meal.
As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can boost the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Today’s plant of the week is in the productive side of gardening.
If you like making preservers, jams and jellies, you might want to grow this heritage tree, whose fruit is unavailable in supermarkets or greengrocers.
Don’t know why, because it just has the most superior taste of all fruits of the same kind.
Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au
|Greengage plums-small and delicious.|
“The Green Gage plum is an amazing eating experience – sweet and very richly flavoured but balanced with perfect amount of acidity.
Singled out by the author of the Australian Fruit Tree book, Louis Glowinski, as his favourite fruit overall (a big rave, given his book covers a fairly significant proportion of the fruit kingdom) but this is a great plum.”
Anyone fancy an almond and greengage plum crumble?