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SHARING SECRETS: What Tastes Good Growing In Your Garden?

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let's Talk Plants! July 2023.


This month's question:

What tastes good and grows in your garden, or you wish it did! Also, tell us how you obtained it - bought seeds, small plants, someone gave it to you, it was already there…? And, is it better this year since all of our rain?

WiX stock photo. What tastes good currently in the gardens of SDHS members? Lots of blackberries but that's not all, read on...


Betty Wheeler says…

…Stinging nettles! They "volunteered" in my backyard some years ago, and once I figured out what they were, my annoyance turned to delight. A quick blanch to de-sting, and they're better than spinach!

The best way to harvest nettles is to cut the whole plant at the bottom with a pair of scissors or a sharp knife. Picking single leaves is far less effective. Hold the plant tight in one hand and cut the stem with the other. You can also simply pluck the younger plants if you do not have any tools to cut them, with gloves.


2 cups fresh sprouts of stinging nettles (rinsed)

1 onion, chopped

¾ cups - vegetable or chicken stock

Salt and pepper

olive oil

optional 1: 1 fried or poached egg for each serving

optional 2: sour cream or vegan alternatives


1. Rinse the nettles under water in order to clean them. Don’t wash them too much or they will lose nutrients and aroma.

2. Cut the onion in fine cubes and sweat them in olive oil. Be careful not to burn them, they should not be fried.

3. Deglaze the onions with your stock and add the nettles. Let everything simmer for about 10 minutes with the lid closed. Stir occasionally until all leaves have collapsed. The nettles shrink significantly in volume when cooked but for 500 grams you’ll need a rather large pot to begin with.

4.Add salt and pepper and mix everything with your (hand) blender. We like to have some consistency in the final product so we usually blend it only a little. If you like it more like “creamed spinach,” keep the blender on for a while. Refine with sour cream as desired.

5. You can serve the nettles with fried egg and potatoes. We like things simple and served cooked potatoes in our recipe. Alternatively, you can also fry them to pep things up a little.


Carol Conway provides this answer…

…The rain definitely helped revive everything, both desired plants and weeds (or maybe those are unknown wildflowers that I've never seen before?) and even helped the soil. I have volunteer cherry tomato plants springing up underneath Plumeria branches. It's too cold for them to set fruit here near the beach in Corona del Mar but I appreciate their perseverance. Because of the cooler weather, the Valencia oranges took longer to ripen but it didn't stop the Bears limes and Meyer lemons. I'm 86 and do all the work myself so simplifying this old garden is constantly being addressed.


Barb Huntington declares…

…I have an abundance of snow peas/pea pod peas that I am sharing, adding to all my meals, and munching in the garden. The first few never came up so I planted a bunch more and all those came up. I feel a little like Jack and the Beanstalk (Barb and the Pea Stalks?) Yum!


Gabrielle Ivany of 92128 says…

… For a couple of years now I've had good luck with sweet peas that grow in the wintertime in my vegetable patch, from a six-pack. They are delicious. It's fun to find and harvest the peas before they get too big. I have to do it at least on a weekly basis. And because it was so cool this year, the plants lasted longer.


Kathy Voltin declares…

… My thornless blackberries are the perfect morning treat! We bought a young plant several years ago and have had bounty after bounty for six years. It fruited very late this year, maybe due to a late pruning job (usually is done in January but was fine this year in February) or could be the cooler weather. I just started harvesting the berries this week, in June. Usually my berries are finishing by mid-June after the busy harvest month of May. I don’t think the heavy rains have influenced the flavor or appearance. But it did save on my water bill!


Denise Stockman provides this answer…

…For me there’s nothing better than tree ripened fruit. When I’m ready to take a break from gardening I’ll pick a warm peach, crisp apple or one of the many (thirteen) types of fruit that I have in my garden and then sit down under a tree and marvel at nature. Except for the citrus trees, I’ve purchased all plants as bare roots and have gifted many friends and neighbors with cuttings as well as sharing the harvest.


Linda Groom shares…

... These beautiful little tomatoes came as a surprise in a Kalanchoe plant from the

nursery. I transplanted it when I saw what was growing and I'm getting delicious cherry tomatoes from it.


Tynan Wyatt declares…

…The loquats this year have been outstanding! I grew the trees from seed but grafted them four years ago. This year was the first good crop, last year we had some bipedal varmints get “grabby, grabby,” LOL, and the whole family enjoyed it. I don't know how much the rain had to do with it but I'm sure it didn't hurt. The Savoy cabbage was also quite delicious and the rain definitely helped that.


Susie Torre Bueno promises…

… Fresh lemon thyme, rosemary, mint and sage.

I'm growing the lemon thyme (bought in 4" pots) in the ground mixed with succulents and bearded iris, and they've been going like gangbusters for over a year.

The rosemary is planted both as a groundcover (from flats) and as a shrub (from 1-gal pots planted over ten years ago). This plant needs very little water, almost no maintenance, and I used it both for cooking and for decorating platters of food. It brings a ton of bees to the garden.

I've got the mint (grown from cuttings) in pots on top of a table, as I don't want it to escape into the garden, where it would be a big thug.

The sage is also in a pot, but I've grown it in the ground as an ornamental mixed in with both veggies and succulents, and it thrives in the ground. Also, is it better this year since all our rain?


Joan Herskowitz proposed…

… The lemon verbena, Aloysia citrodora, plant that I bought at the nursery a few years ago will leaf out when the weather warms in Spring. This good-looking plant is a native of South America. It grows to shrub size and provides lots of leaves that can be used fresh or dried for tea. The leaves on the plant die back in winter. The tea has a pleasant taste and is a hit with guests who want a noncaffeinated hot drink.


And me, Cathy Tylka, is bragging from 92026…

…blackberries are flowering, so it won’t be long and the plant is taking over the world. Lucky for me, I have a big yard. And, the raspberries are already here, just had a handful while taking this picture. Lucky me, berries in my cereal!


Karen England of 92084 exclaimed …

… that for the first time ever, I recently harvested fresh thornless blackberries, Golden Dorset apples and Scentimental roses for a pie. There is no pie photo to share here because I ate it (all by myself. It was delicious!) before taking a picture.

Roses, blackberries, Rubus spp., and apples are all related botanically, and I like cooking with them as relatives, i.e. all mixed together in a single dish such as pie, but in my yard, they aren’t usually fresh all at the same time.

This Scentimental rose photo is from Karen's garden in 2013. Every year this bush just gets better and better! For those who want to grow roses organically and eat them, Karen highly recommends growing Scentimental.

For those wondering about the pie, I made two 9" butter crusts. (I didn't have enough culinary rosewater to use, so I made the crusts with regular ice water, but had I had some rosewater I would have used some to make the crust.) I chopped five unpeeled but cored, freshly picked smaller apples to about the size of some freshly picked blackberries (about a cup and a half of berries total) and added to that the petals of two huge, very fragrant Scentimental roses (I roughly chopped the bigger petals) and mixed them together in a bowl with some Pink Lemonade lemon zest, a bit of brown sugar, a little organic cornstarch, a pinch of cinnamon, and a squirt of fresh lemon juice. I lined a 9" glass pie plate with one crust and filled the bottom crust with the fruit/flower mix and topped it with the other crust. I made slits in the top crust for steam to escape and put the whole pie on a sheet pan in case of a mess and baked it until the crust was golden and the filling was bubbly (about an hour). When you use glass bakeware it is recommended to reduce the heat called for in a recipe by 25 degrees F. So, I started my pie at 375 degrees F. for 15 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 325 degrees F. for 40 minutes.


Question for next month:

Here comes the sun… What is being helped or harmed in your garden by the sun? What are you doing about it? Is your plan working?


Cathy Tylka, RN, retired Emergency Nurse, found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and volunteer for many activities. Now, more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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