I’m so excited…

I am not one to count my chickens before they’re hatched but… In January I sowed some seeds of Mertensia maritima and I have four seedlings! In case the name doesn’t mean much to you, the common name of the plant is oyster plant. I had not eaten it till a year ago or so when I had a single leaf put on a rather pretentious meal. I have never eaten an oyster and have no intention of ever eating one – how hungry was the first person that cracked open a shell and thought that the contents looked like food! – but I was amazed by the ‘sea’ taste of the leaf. So I was determined to try to grow it.

It is a plant that inhabits seaside places around the northern continents and is native to Ireland, primarily the north. It is related to pulmonaria and borage but is hairless and a fleshy, rather succulent plant with grey-blue leaves and blue flowers. It needs well-drained soil that is not too organic. So this will be a challenge to grow and will go in a raised bed, once the lockdown is over and I can get the raised beds made. It would also make a nice plant for a pot in sun.

I am excited because the seeds can be tricky to germinate and need sowing early so the imbibed seeds are exposed to cold. Mine were sown at ambient temperature in a cold greenhouse, kept moist and covered in perlite – I was not sure if they needed light. I will transplant these four carefully and keep the pot in case more germinate later. It would make sense if I put the pot in the fridge to chill the seeds for a few weeks before bringing them back into the warmth.

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3 Comments on “I’m so excited…”

  1. tonytomeo
    May 1, 2020 at 7:38 pm #

    Oh, I remember this stuff. It still sounds weird. It got my attention though. I wanted to grow salsify, which is also known as the oyster plant or vegetable oyster, but only because I remember it was naturalized on roadsides in the Santa Clara Valley a very long time ago. I figure if it naturalized like that, it would be happy in my garden. It is instead grown for the roots. I seriously doubt it is remotely similar to oysters though.

    • thebikinggardener
      May 2, 2020 at 8:53 am #

      Seed companies also sell salsify and scorzonera seeds though I cant imagine they are grown much. I have tried them and the roots are so long and thin they are a pain to grow and dig and you are supposed to peel them when cooked so you end up with burned fingers and a lump of grey, rather slimy stuff to eat – I was not impressed enough to try again. Having not eaten oysters I cant say if they tasted like them or not.

      • tonytomeo
        May 4, 2020 at 4:04 am #

        It sounds delightful! I will not try them here because the soil is not great for root vegetables. (I did not know that when I started.) I could put them in a sandier spot down the slope from the garden, but won’t. I am in no rush. I will probably experience the same. I mean, I do not expect to be impressed enough to grow them again. I just want to try them because I remember them from when I was a kid.
        Tomales Bay in Marin County to the North is famous for oysters. I eat them sometimes, but can not understand the allure. They just happen to be good vehicles for Tabasco Sauce. Otherwise, they taste even less interesting than what they look like. I know they are healthful, but there are plenty of other foods that are just as healthful. But hey, I live in a region where cat poop coffee (kopi luwak) is trendy. No, I have not tried it, and have absolutely no intention to do so.

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