Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ink caps and coriander...

Well all this rain has resulted in an absolute invasion of ink caps in the straw bales...

Sure, they're cute now... but by this afternoon they will have turned to black goo...
I don't really mind. My research on them says that while they're not edible, they're not poisonous either... their non-edibility is probably related to their general ickiness... even when they're in their cute adorable stage, you can't pick them... they fall apart and the heat from your touch begins the melting to goo phase... but their myceliums (ie: mushroom roots) are very busy converting the cellulose in the straw to something that the plants can use to grow, so I'll let them be...
Next year, if I do the straw bale thing again, and I probably will, I'm going to innoculate them with oyster mushrooms. I figure that if I'm gonna grow mushrooms, they might as well be edible.
And next, we have coriander.
Well, not exactly.... This is Vietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata)
I use this to replace cilantro or coriander leaves in most of my recipes... primarily because I can't grow cilantro here... our summer heat makes it bolt to seed before I even get a decent leaf. They're a decent replacement, although they don't taste exactly the same... the flavor is a little deeper, with a peppery overtone, but it's close enough for all practical purposes. And while cilantro looses much of it's flavor when it's cooked, this doesn't...

Originally, I bought plants from the nursery, but you can't always rely on being able to find them... This is cutting I got from the grocery store.
If you go to Asian groceries, there tends to be a large amount of leafy greens. This, like most of the herbs, is sold fairly cheaply... usually 2 or 3 bunches for a dollar. The last time I bought some, I put a few stems in water to hold them, and they sprouted roots.
I know from experience that you can't just stick them in a pot and grow them though... the little cuttings will promptly lose their leaves and the stems will die back.
What I did was put them in a pot of soil then set the pot in a bigger pot that has no drainage and filled it with 3 or 4 inches of water. (Don't cover the top of the inner pot) Essentially your taking the plant from water to mud. Then after 3 or 4 days, I take the pot out of the larger pot, and let it begin to dry out... so now I'm going from mud to soil. And now, 2 weeks later, the plant has tripled in size and roots are growing out of the bottom drainage hole.
It's now ready to go into a hanging basket, where it will end up looking a lot like a Tradescantia ie: wandering jew, or out in the yard, where it will make a bushy viney kind of plant to about 2 feet tall.
Whichever, it will be getting more sun than it is now, and the undersides of the leaves will turn red and the top of the leaves will get dark half-circle markings. You can see the barest hint of them in the bottom close up pics.
It's closely related to smart-weed, a plant often found in abandoned lots, and occasionally eaten... not by me though. Here, in my climate, it can survive the winter outside, although after it begins growing in the spring, late frosts will kill it off.
By the way, this method of rooting works for other plants that don't transfer from cuttings in water to cuttings in dirt real well... some of the fibrous rooted begonias, impatients and basil come to mind...


  1. What cool shrooms you found! Sad to hear how quickly they deline.

    Interesting info on the Coriander plant! I would try one, but there is a reason I stick with plants that don't need water to survive!!! LOLOL!

  2. That's an interesting propagation method - I'll try it.

    I don't grow herbs now, though I used to - not much time for cooking!! I always liked chervil, it has an interesting flavour.

  3. Beautiful landscape fungus grows on straw bales
    The first time I hear Vietnamese coriander ,what is use

  4. Mushrooms are not something I know a lot about, so this is the first time I've ever seen these. They probably don't grow around here. Ours are all just plain off white standards. Boring!

  5. In this part of the world (Australia) we call that "Vietnamese Mint".