|I’d like to welcome a host of new residents to my patio garden. Some were grown from seed, and others purchased as seedlings and semi-matured plants. Today I will feature just four of them. Maybe you recall my baby snow peaplants a few weeks ago. Grown from seed, they are now flowering and fruiting. They are clinging to a small bamboo tripod/totem. Next time I’ll attach a higher frame.
Another new member of the team are my zucchini plants (pictured below). I’ve never grown zucchini, especially since I only have pots, planting bags and bare brick patio. Let’s see how they go. So far so good. I planted zucchini seeds 18 days ago. They are fast growers!
Purple beans (pictured below) are another new resident. A friend gave me seeds, and I planted these also 18 days ago, at the auspicious lunar days for planting fruiting annuals. There are several different varieties of purple fresh-picking snap pole bean plants with names such as Royalty Purple and Royal Burgundy. I am unsure what variety these are. My friend Trevor used to grow them in Perth and they grew to over 2 metres tall on a huge trellis. Obviously mine (all planted out in 3 x 35 litre capacity planting bags) are limited to my 1-metre totems.
All common green beans can trace their origins back to Central and South America. Purple beans are essentially green beans disguised in a violet hued skin. They maintain the same lean cylindric shape, size and stringless seam. Underneath the purple shell is the same crisp translucent succulent green flesh and pale lime green peas. The flavor matches that of a French green bean with grassy notes and a sweet finish. And, once cooked, the violet hues fade to green, leaving the purple bean to appear as common as a green bean.
Another exciting find is Ceylon Spinach (Basella alba) – also known as Malabar Spinach, Malabar Nightshade and Malabar Greens. It is an easily-grown vine from tropical Asia. Apparently the leaves and shoots taste similar to ordinary spinach and they can be harvested regularly to be eaten raw or cooked. The plant is pictured below.
Large, mature leaves have a stronger flavour, more like spinach, no doubt because of their rich iron and chlorophyll content. Large leaves can be lightly steamed, sliced and tossed in stir-fries, added to quiche, soups, casseroles, and mixed with vegetable dishes. Leaves infused in boiling water are drunk as a tea.
Tender tips of stems are lightly steamed, resembling asparagus in flavour. Flowers can also be eaten. The juicy, purple berries can be used to colour jellies, sweets, drinks and for face painting (though I won’t be doing any of that).
The plant is a rich source of chlorophyll, a valuable blood building component, which also provides favourable intestinal flora, digestive enzymes, and stimulation of secretions of the stomach, liver and pancreas. The mucilaginous leaves are valued for removing mucus and toxins from the body.
Te plant’s high water content is cooling to the body and has the effect of clearing the complexion and dealing with fluid retention. In Sri Lanka it is one of the basic herbal medicines given for insomnia and nervous breakdown. Leaves are used as a poultice on the forehead to relieve headaches, and bandaged over ulcers and eczema.
I purchased the plant as is from a great nursery in Northern Australia called Mudbrick Cottage Herb Farm, who express post hard-to-find plants at a very reasonable rate. I purchased 8 well-matured plants for less than $50 including express next-day postage. They all arrived in perfect condition. There’s many other new plants to show you, but I’ll do that another day. Stay tuned!
Posted by Kurma on 23/11/11; 8:22:41 AM