Oyster Leaf

(Mertensia maritima) Oyster leaf is a member of the borage family. It is a delicate and unique treat that can occasionally be found in the gourmet section of grocery stores. Plants thrive when grown in containers, and this method will also protect young seedlings from slugs. Seeds need cold weather in order to germinate. Direct sow in fall or in very early spring. You can also start indoors, first stratifying (cold treating) the seeds by placing them in the fridge for several weeks. After removing them from the refrigerator, germinate at 65-70 F. Surface sow seeds and lightly cover in a fine layer soil. Germination may be slow and erratic- from 30-60 days. Pinch back flowers to encourage foliage growth. Oyster leaf does not like to be over watered, and it prefers well-drained soil. The plants dislike extreme heat, so be sure to place them in a cooler micro climate if you experience very hot summers. Harvest the fragrant leaves in the morning when their flavor is at its peak. This hardy perennial is not recommended in hot-summer climates of Zone 8 and up.

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