Stevia rebaudiana

Stevia rebaudiana

This will be my first experience with stevia growing from seeds, but since I do have some experience in germinating tropical seeds...I am hopeful and optimistic!

Stevia is a herb used as a sweetener. Stevioside is 3 times sweeter than sugar but without the calories. It can be used in place of sugar in drinks, baked goods, desserts, preserves, a
lso plaque retardant and tooth decay inhibitor. Stevia comes originally from Paraguay.

Plant Height: 24" tall
Sunlight: Partial Shade

Planting Instructions: Seeds are expensive and need light to germinate. Do not cover with seed starting material. Just sprinkle the seeds on top. Germination is slow and erratic. Use lightweight sterilized seed starting material as seeds are very tiny. Keep soil damp but not soggy or seeds may rot. Maintain heat at 77 degrees F or higher to speed up germination. Bottom heat may speed up germination. Must be brought indoors during winter.

Soil Facts: Requires a well prepared soil. Use general purpose fertilizer when preparing soil.
Germination: 12-18 days

Amongst several other websites, fresh seeds can be purchased here

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Getting ready for Spring!

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WANTED: Daun Pandan - Bai Toey

Someone somewhere posted something about this plant and after some research I found out that this is an incredible herb used in asian deserts and other dishes and I decided to buy one to try it out. I prefer fresh over frozen or dried herbs or vegies.

Well, guess what, it's nowhere to be found and I am now on a mission to grow this or at least try. Other people must be wanting fresh leafes too!!!

Pandanus odorus. This species is often referred to as daun pandan and grows 1-2 metres tall with lush-green, smooth-edged, blade leaves to 50cm long. The main stem is supported by numerous aerial roots.The leaf is ubiquitious in Southeast Asian cooking, especially in desserts. Pandan is used in curries and meat dishes, wrapped around chicken and fried, used to perfume rice and to flavor cakes, ice creams and popsicles. Light green pandan cakes are a popular dessert in Malaysia and Indonesia, similar to a chiffon cake. Pandan leaves are also woven into baskets baskets, which can be used for serving food. Pandan is not readily available in the U.S., which is why it's rarely seen on menus, but can sometimes be found frozen in Asian markets.
Be so kind and give me a live plant source here in the US, if you have one. Thanks!!

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Yum Yum Pomelo

Saturday my sister inlaw brought by 2 huge bags of pomelo. This was my first ever citru jam. (pictures of the procedure to follow).

The jam turned out pretty good, given that it was the first time for me to made a citrus jam. The seed removal was a bit of a pain, but otherwise it took the usual 4 hours like most of my jams, jellies or salsa.

Also called Chinese grapefruit, shaddock, pumelo, pommelo, and pompelmous. The pummelo is an exotic large citrus fruit that is an ancient ancestor of the common grapefruit. It is the largest of the citrus fruits with a shape that can be fairly round or slightly pointed at one end (the fruit ranges from nearly round to oblate or pear-shaped). They range from cantaloupe-size to as large as a 25-pound watermelon and have very thick, soft rind. The skin is green to yellow and slightly bumpy; flesh color ranges from pink to rose.
Like grapefruits, they can range from almost seedless to very seedy, from juicy to dry, from sweet to sour. It is sweeter than a grapefruit and can be eaten fresh, although membranes around the segments should be peeled. Pummelos commonly have 16 to 18 segments, compared to most grapefruit that have about 12 segments. Be sure to refrigerate and use quickly. Use as you would grapefruit sections. They are also good for jams, jellies, marmalades and syrups.

It is grown in many eastern countries including China, Japan, India, Fiji, Malaysia, and Thailand. It is also now grown in the Caribbean and in the United States, in California and Florida. In season November through March, Pummelos are especially popular for Chinese New Year. The Chinese believe the delectable Pummelo is a sign of prosperity and good fortune - good things will happen if they eat it.
One-fourth of a Pummelo (152 grams) has 60 calories and provides 130% of the Vitamin C recommended for the day. It is sodium, fat and cholesterol free and is a source of potassium.

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Banana Flower

A lot of people do not know or have never seen a banana flower. I was pretty stunned too the first time I saw one. Come to find out that they are eatable too.

The deep purplish-crimson-coloured banana flower is used as a vegetable from Sri Lanka to Laos. The flower is borne at the end of the stem. Long, slender, sterile male flowers with a faint sweet fragrance are lined up in tidy rows and protected by large reddish bracts. Higher up the stem are groups of female flowers which develop into fruit without fertilisation.

In Thailand, slices of tender banana flower are eaten raw with the pungent dip known as nam prik, or with fried noodles, or simmered in a hot sour soup with chicken, galangal and coconut milk. In the Philippines, banana blossom is added to the famous kari-kari, a rich beef stew. 'Banana blossom' or 'banana heart' are the favoured names in the Philippines and 'banana heart' in Indonesia purely because its colour and shape suggest a heart; (nothing to do with the 'heart' of the trunk used in Burma). In Sri Lanka, it is simply 'plantain flower'. In Australia it is known as 'banana bell'.

Purchasing and storing: Buy flowers which look fresh and bright. Often they are wrapped in transparent plastic, which keeps them from drying out too quickly. If they must be kept for a few days leave them in the wrapping and store in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.

Preparation: To prepare the flower for cooking, remove and discard outer bracts until the inner, paler portion is revealed. Some recipes advise steaming the whole blossom for 20 minutes or so before cutting into it. This may also be done in the microwave oven in a much shorter time by first putting the blossom on a dish and covering it with microwave-proof plastic wrap. Allow to cool before slicing.

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