3 Must-Grow Herbs for Fresh and Flavorful Salads


coriander herb

Salads are an everyday essential that bring freshness and vitality to our meals. By growing your own herbs, you’ll not only elevate the flavors in your salads, but also add a satisfying homegrown touch. Today, we’ll introduce three oriental herbs—coriander, purslane, and edible chrysanthemums—that thrive in the summer and autumn seasons. Each of these herbs offers a unique taste that will make your salads and other dishes a feast for the senses.

What You’ll Learn

  • The unique characteristics of three edible herbs: purslane, coriander, and edible chrysanthemums.
  • How to cultivate these herbs in your home garden, along with tips for optimal growth.
  • The health benefits and culinary uses of these three edible herbs.
  • Common misconceptions and frequently asked questions about growing and using these herbs.

Coriander: More Than Just a Spice

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum

The intoxicating aroma of fresh coriander, also known as cilantro, has the power to transport you to the bustling markets of the East. Originally native to regions spanning from Southern Europe to Northern Africa to Southwestern Asia, this herb offers a unique, somewhat citrusy flavor that enhances numerous dishes.

When growing coriander, consider that it’s an annual herb that thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 3-11. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun but can tolerate light shade. Sow seeds directly into the ground during late spring, covering lightly with soil. Keep the soil consistently moist until seedlings emerge, usually within 7-10 days.

While coriander is typically resistant to pests, it may occasionally attract aphids. A strong spray of water should knock these pests off the plant. Root rot could also be an issue if plants are overwatered or soil doesn’t drain well.

Coriander’s leaves, roots, and dried seeds (commonly referred to as coriander seeds) are all edible. It pairs well with various dishes, from meat and fish to pasta sauces and salads. Coriander’s distinct flavor elevates simple dishes and imparts an exotic touch.

Coriander Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
  • Hardiness zones: 3-11
  • Sunlight requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil requirements: Well-draining soil
  • Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist
  • Pests and diseases: Aphids, root rot

Coriander: Addressing Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions

Misconceptions

  • Misconception 1: Coriander and cilantro are different plants. Clarification: In fact, coriander and cilantro come from the same plant, Coriandrum sativum. In many parts of the world, including the U.S., “cilantro” refers to the leaves and stems, while “coriander” refers to the seeds.
  • Misconception 2: Coriander is difficult to grow. Clarification: Coriander is relatively easy to grow, as long as you provide the right conditions. It prefers cooler temperatures, well-draining soil, and plenty of sunlight.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Question: Can I use coriander leaves and seeds interchangeably in recipes?
    Answer: Coriander leaves (cilantro) and seeds have distinct flavors and are typically used in different ways in cooking. The leaves are often used fresh in salads and salsas, while the seeds are used in spice blends and can be ground into a powder.
  • Question: Why is my coriander plant bolting?
    Answer: Coriander plants bolt, or go to seed, in response to long days and high temperatures. Once the plant bolts, the leaves can become bitter. You can delay bolting by keeping the plant well-watered and mulched to keep the roots cool.
  • Question: How do I harvest coriander seeds?
    Answer: Once the flowers have died back and the round seeds have turned brown, cut the entire seed head and place it in a paper bag. Shake the bag to dislodge the seeds. They can be used whole or ground into a powder.

Coriander Quick Reference Growing Chart

Property Description
Common Names Cilantro (leaves), Chinese parsley, coriander (seeds)
Growth Habit Fast-growing annual with wide, flat leaves; 12-18″ tall foliage, flower stems reach 2-3 feet
Bolting Bolts readily in hot weather, produces lacy, fern-like leaves along flower stalk when bolting
Growing Conditions Well-drained soil, full sun (tolerates light shade), can be grown in containers
Planting and Harvesting Direct sow in early spring, 1/4-1/2 inch deep in rows about a foot apart; thin seedlings to 3-6″ apart; successive sowings for longer harvest; avoid summer plantings as plants bolt quickly; for fall crop, seed in mid-August
Watering Keep evenly moist, reduce irrigation as seeds near maturity
Storage store in the refrigerator for about a week or in water for freshness
harvested purslane

Purslane: The Nutritious Weed

Scientific name: Portulaca oleracea

Purslane, often dismissed as a common weed, is a resilient herb with succulent leaves and a slightly sour taste. It originally hails from India, but has since spread worldwide. It’s loaded with essential nutrients and can be a healthful addition to salads and stir-fries.

Purslane is a hardy annual that does well in USDA zones 5-10. It prefers sandy or loamy, well-drained soil and full sun, although it can tolerate poor soil conditions and partial shade. Seeds can be sown directly in the soil after the last frost in spring.

Purslane is generally pest-resistant, but watch for common garden pests like slugs and snails. As for diseases, it’s typically trouble-free, although it might be prone to fungal diseases in excessively wet conditions.

Purslane Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Portulaca oleracea
  • Hardiness zones: 5-10
  • Sunlight requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil requirements: Sandy or loamy, well-draining soil
  • Water requirements: Drought-tolerant; water when soil is dry
  • Pests and diseases: Slugs, snails, fungal diseases in wet conditions

Misconceptions

  • Misconception 1: Purslane is just a weed.

    Clarification: While it’s true that purslane can grow invasively like a weed, it’s far from an unwanted plant. Purslane is packed with nutrients and adds a distinct flavor to your dishes. Plus, it’s easy to manage with regular harvesting.

  • Misconception 2: Purslane is not safe to eat.
    Clarification: Not only is purslane safe to eat, but it’s also highly nutritious. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Always ensure you’re harvesting Portulaca oleracea, the edible variety, as other species may not be safe to consume.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Question: Can I eat purslane raw?
    Answer: Absolutely! Purslane can be eaten raw in salads or lightly sautéed or stir-fried. Its mildly tangy and peppery flavor makes it a versatile ingredient in your kitchen.
  • Question: Does purslane need a lot of sunlight?

    Answer: Purslane thrives in full sun but can tolerate part shade. Ensure it’s planted in well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging.

  • Question: How often should I water purslane?
    Answer: Purslane is a drought-tolerant plant and does well with minimal watering. Water deeply once the soil is completely dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
  • Question: Is purslane invasive?
    Answer: Purslane can spread quickly and become invasive if left unchecked. Regular harvesting and monitoring can help keep it under control. If you’re concerned about it spreading, consider growing it in containers.

Purslane Quick Reference Growing Chart

Property Description
Nutritional Value High in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants
Other Names Garden purslane, little hogweed, pusley, wild portulaca, pourpier, verdolaga
Growth Habit Low-growing herbaceous annual with succulent leaves and stems
Plant Size Up to 16″ tall, forming a mat covering up to 3 feet in diameter
Leaf Description Fleshy, oval to spoon-shaped, without indentations, attached directly to stems
Flower Description Yellow flowers with notched petals, open on hot, sunny days
Growing Conditions Full sun, adaptable to various soil types, prefers warm weather
Watering Regular water but can tolerate drought
Frost Tolerance Frost tender, killed by the first freeze in fall
Culinary Use Eaten as a fresh or cooked vegetable in many cuisines, used in salads, soups, stews, and sauces
Flavor Slightly tart or sour and salty taste, intensity influenced by environmental conditions
Edible Parts Stems, leaves, flower buds, and seeds
Edible Chrysanthemums

Edible Chrysanthemums: A Floral Delight

Scientific name: Chrysanthemum coronarium

Edible chrysanthemums, also known as garland chrysanthemums or shungiku in Japan, bring a delicate, slightly sweet flavor to a variety of dishes. These chrysanthemums are native to East Asia and are often used in Chinese and Japanese cuisines.

These annuals thrive best in USDA hardiness zones 5-9. They prefer well-draining, fertile soil and full sun but can tolerate light shade. Directly sow seeds into the garden in early spring or late summer for a fall harvest.

While these plants are relatively pest-resistant, they may attract aphids, leaf miners, or whiteflies. If these pests become a problem, treat the plants with an insecticidal soap or a strong spray of water. Powdery mildew and leaf spots could occur in humid or rainy conditions.

The young leaves and stems of edible chrysanthemums can be used in salads, stir-fries, or as a flavorful garnish. They lend a unique taste and a pop of color to your home-cooked meals.

Edible Chrysanthemums Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Chrysanthemum coronarium
  • Hardiness zones: 5-9
  • Sunlight requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil requirements: Well-draining, fertile soil
  • Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged
  • Pests and diseases: Aphids, leaf miners, whiteflies, powdery mildew, leaf spots

Edible Chrysanthemums: Addressing Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions

Misconceptions

  • Misconception 1: All chrysanthemums are edible.Clarification: Not all chrysanthemums are safe to eat. The variety known as Chrysanthemum coronarium, also known as garland chrysanthemum or shungiku, is the one typically used in culinary applications. Always ensure you are growing the right variety before consuming.
  • Misconception 2: Edible chrysanthemums are primarily for ornamental use.Clarification: While they do produce attractive flowers, edible chrysanthemums are primarily grown for their leaves, which can be used in a variety of dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Question: What do edible chrysanthemum leaves taste like?
    Answer: Edible chrysanthemum leaves have a unique flavor that’s slightly bitter and aromatic, akin to a cross between celery and endive. They can add a distinctive touch to salads, soups, and stir-fries.
  • Question: Can I grow edible chrysanthemums in pots?
    Answer: Yes, edible chrysanthemums can be grown in pots, making them a great choice for urban or space-constrained gardeners. They require plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil, just like when grown in ground.
  • Question: How do I harvest edible chrysanthemum leaves?
    Answer: Edible chrysanthemum leaves can be harvested as soon as the plant is well established and there are plenty of leaves. Simply cut the leaves off at the stem, making sure not to strip the plant completely so it can continue to grow.

Key Takeaways

  • Purslane, coriander, and edible chrysanthemums are versatile herbs that add unique flavors and health benefits to your meals.
  • These herbs can be easily grown in most climates and soils, with some specific cultivation practices to optimize their growth.
  • Purslane is a succulent herb high in vitamins, particularly vitamin C, and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.
  • Fresh coriander from your garden is significantly different and more flavorful than the dried spice you find in grocery stores.
  • Edible chrysanthemums, also known as shungiku, have a unique taste and are primarily grown for their leaves, not their flowers.
  • Always ensure you’re growing the correct variety of edible herbs and be mindful of common misconceptions associated with them.

Final Thoughts

There’s no need to limit your herb garden to just the basics like basil and rosemary. Embrace the unique flavors of the East with these three easy-to-grow herbs. Not only will they expand your culinary horizons, but they’ll also bring a touch of exotic beauty to your backyard. Don’t hesitate to explore the world through your garden, one plant at a time.

harvested purslane and coriander growing in garden with text overlay three must-grow herbs for fresh salads

The post 3 Must-Grow Herbs for Fresh and Flavorful Salads appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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