Growing and Saving the Seed Of Oyster Leaf
Latin name Mertensia maritima is an herbaceous perennial member of the borage family. This delicious plant is aptly named for its tolerance to maritime exposure and can be found growing wild along the Scottish coast. It received its common name because the thick, tender leaves taste similar to oysters with a hint of seaweed flavor. Perfect in salads and other raw dishes. Because of its beauty and hardiness, some gardeners say they will never be without this amazingly aromatic plant in their garden. Hardy to USDA zone 3; seeds can take a month to germinate. Hard to find!
Native to Britain and northern Europe along the rough, pebbly coastlines. This wild and delectable green is traditionally a rare, foraged delicacy recently discovered as a gourmet ingredient and highly sought after by chefs.
- Edible ornamental
- Potted plant, cottage garden
- Fascinating edible leafy green with unique flavor, popular with chefs, especially those who love to experiement with new ingredients or who dabble in molecular gastronomy!
- A cold period will aid and speed germination.
- You can direct sow seeds in late winter for cold exposure (aka stratification) or you can start the seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before last frost.
- Start on a damp paper towel in a plastic baggie or in a tray and stick the bag or tray in a cold location, ideally the fridge, for 30 days.
- Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep.
- Seeds germinate in 14-80 days.
- After the seeds have been stratified, the ideal germination temperature is 65-78 F.
- This low-growing maritime plant prefers part shade and will suffer in a very hot and sunny location.
- Provide well- drained, preferably sandy, soil. Space plants 8 inches apart.
- Plants really thrive when grown in pots or containers to prevent snails infestation.
- Leaves should be harvested early in the morning for best flavor.
- Snails can be a pest of oyster leaf. Try growing in a pot to keep the plant high up and away from hungry snails, or use diatomaceous earth.
Saving sunflower seeds is very easy!
- When petals die back and heads begin to dry and turn brown, place a paper bag over the heads to protect seeds from birds.
- After a few days, the heads will dry to a dark brown. Bring the heads indoors and hang upside down in a dry area in direct sunlight for up to a week, shaking seeds free each day.
- Store in a cool, dark, dry place.