Edible Ornamentals

Edible Ornamentals – My Top Ten

Ginger  Growing your own ginger generally involves searching out sprouting sections of fresh root ginger from the local green grocer and planting them in a well drained, nutrient enriched soil.  Just plant the sprouting, knobbly sections that are too small to peel. Plants die down in the cooler months, so it is wise to place a marker to indicate where the ginger has been planted. Any unharvested rhizomes will emerge the following season.  To harvest, simply slice off a section of underground rhizome, leaving the remainder of the plant to continue growing.
Galangal  Fresh galangal rhizomes suitable for planting are available from fruit shops and supermarkets, but some nurseries also stock potted plants.  Galangal provides a sharp, aromatic taste to dishes and is most easily recognised in Thai soups. There are two types of galangal (greater galangal and lesser galangal). The smaller growing, lesser galangal has exquisitely perfumed, white flowers, while greater galangal produces spikes of small, unperfumed blooms.
Rosemary  There are hundreds of different types of rosemary, some of which have remarkably different aromas. I grow several different types, but the variety I prefer for cooking is known as Tuscan Blue. This is a particularly vigorous variety with a good flavour. It has straight, thick stems perfect for using as skewers when making lamb kebabs. Rosemary loves it hot and dry, so it is perfect for pots or exposed, neglected parts of the garden. Tuscan Blue also makes a great low hedge.
Jaboticaba  If you need a fruiting hedge of screen plant this species is worth considering. Jaboticabas look a little like native lillypillies. Fruit is borne directly on the stems and branches. This allows you to trim the outside foliage to any height or shape you like without affecting fruiting. The fruit is an attractive shiny, black ball that varies from marble to walnut size. The skin is slightly bitter and need not be eaten. Inside the flesh is sweet and grapelike. The fruit makes a great tasting, maroon coloured jam. 
Kaffir Lime Leaves  The leaves of the Kaffir lime are generally used in the same way as a bay leaf, that is they are added to dishes during the cooking process, but not eaten.  For a stronger flavour you can cut the leaves up very finely and consume them.  This hardy citrus tolerates regular trimming, but try to allow the plant to become reasonably well established before you start harvesting leaves.  Like all citrus, the Kaffir lime requires regular fertilising. Oil or soap sprays will keep scale, sooty mould and citrus leaf miner at bay.  You can successfully grow a Kaffir lime in a pot.
Curry Leaf Tree
  Believe it or not, the curry leaf tree is a relative of the common murraya.  It is a drought hardy small tree.  The leaves are harvested to flavour dishes.  They can be fried in a little oil or coconut milk along with other spices when making curries or cooked and added to salads or vegetable dishes. The curry tree is very well adapted to growing in a container. I prefer to grow mine in a pot as they can sucker in the garden.n Prune away any seeds that form to prevent them spreading.  See Food Recipes for potato bahji
Bay Tree
  I love using fresh bay leaves and bay trees are really easy to grow. They are perfectly adapted to growing in pots and respond well to regular trimming. Plants can be slow growing initially, so allow your bay tree to become well established before harvesting too much foliage. Scale and sooty mould can be problematic, but oil or soap sprays quickly bring these problems under control. Fresh bay leaves are also an excellent repellent for ants. Crush a few fresh leaves and scatter them around the pantry, windowsill or on top of your worm farm and your ants will disappear.
Lemon Myrtle
  This native tree (Backhousia citriodora) is widely grown as a garden ornamental, but few people actually use the leaves in cooking. It grows into a tall shrub or small tree. It is trimmed as a tall hedge in Brisbane’s Roma Street Parklands. The crumbled, dried leaves make a nice marinade for chicken. The flavour is quite strong, so do not overdo it. Fresh leaves are very popular for lemon tea. Include lemon myrtle foliage in your next vase of flowers and enjoy the aroma throughout the house. See Food Recipes for lemon myrtle kababs
Chillies  Supermarkets stock a great range of fresh chillies these days.  If you find the ones you like they can be a great source of planting stock.  The cold storage that the fruits are subjected to does not seem to affect the ability of the seeds they contain to germinate.  Simply cut the fruit open, scrap out and wash the seeds in water.  Allow them to dry and then plant them.  Chilli plants are subject to nematodes just like their related tomatoes and capsicums.  Be sure to add plenty of organic matter to the soil and plant them in different spots around the garden.  Where the problem persists, you could try treating the soil with a soil conditioner containing neem. Chilli plants are short-lived perennials so you will have to replace them every couple of years.  If you live in a very cold area, they will go very dormant over the winter, but will generally come away again during the spring. See Food Recipes for chilli jam
Kangkong  Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica) is an aquatic plant popular in Asian cuisine, in fact you have possibly eaten it unknowingly in vegetable based dishes. If you have a pond or water feature you can grow kangkong. Simply pot up some cuttings from a fresh bunch purchased at your local Asian vegetable stockist. Cover the top of the pot with pebbles to weigh down the potting mix and plunge it into your water feature. It grows well and can be harvested for around nine months of the year. Kangkong dies down in winter but will generally reshoot each spring or can be replanted from seeds available from Asian grocery stores or from fresh cuttings. Use kangkong as a stir-fry vegetable or spinach substitute.

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