August 13, 2013 |
Unlike many plants considered invasive, fennel does everything it can to ingratiate itself into the garden. Its leaves are attractive -- feathery and delicate -- and the umbrella-shaped blooms of bright yellow flowers that come in summer serve as miniature landing pads for pollinators. Every part of fennel, root to leaf to pollen to fruit, is infused with the varying levels of its iconic licorice flavor. Unlike other aromatic crops -- dill, cumin, anise, caraway -- only fennel ( Foeniculum vulgare )
March 26, 2013 |
Companion planting is based on the idea that, like people, some plants do better with good neighbors. For tomatoes, strawberries and squash, one of the most popular of companion plants is borage ( Borago officinalis ). As a seedling, borage doesn't reveal its potential. The leaves are rough and fat, and as they get older, covered in fur. Only when the sparkling lavender star-shaped flowers appear in spring-summer does borage, also known as starflower, shows its potential: Bees and pest-killing wasps love the blooms.
July 7, 2012
Bright yellow zucchini flowers are nearly irresistible to farmers market shoppers. Yet it seems many people don't know what to do with them once they've bought them. My favorite way is to deep-fry them in a very light, almost tempura-like batter. Whisk enough ice water into flour that it thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Dip the flowers in the batter, give them a twirl to get rid of any excess batter, and fry them in hot oil until they're crunchy — just two or three minutes.
March 16, 1998 |
Here are some hotlines and World Wide Web sites that offer information on desert wildflowers: * Living Desert Wildflower Hotline in the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area, (760) 340-4954. Also: www.livingdesert.org * Joshua Tree National Park: www.nps.gov/jotr * Anza Borrego Desert State Park, wildflower hotline, (760) 767-4684 * Death Valley National Park: www.nps.gov/deva * Mojave Desert Information Center, (760) 733-4040
August 29, 2013
They may not be the first ingredient you think of when garnishing a dish, but flowers are perfect for adding bright color -- not to mention flavor -- to a host of sweet and savory recipes. Sprinkle tender buds in salad, laminate pastry sheets with colorful petals, or stuff whole blossoms with any number of fillings. "Candy" the flowers, coating them with a layer of sugar, if you want to add an extra element to cakes or other desserts. The options are almost endless. If you decide to add flowers to a recipe, make sure that the flowers are indeed edible.
September 17, 2013 |
In summer, when the camomile is in full bloom and harvesting has begun, the gardeners at Stanford Avalon Community Garden in South L.A. let a portion of the field go to seed, ensuring a harvest down the line. Most of the gardeners here are from Mexico, where té de manzanilla (camomile tea) is about as common as Coke on restaurant menus. In Europe, where camomile originated, the apple-scented flowers go back to the Middle Ages. It is the European ginseng, say some, extensively researched and included in the pharmacological record.