Purple Shiso (aka Perilla) — Makes the best summer drink!
Shiso (Perilla frutescens var crispa) carries the sort of complicated flavour profile you didn't think you needed in your life, but believe me, you do. It’s flavour and aroma is hard to pinpoint, something akin to mint meets a savoury herb like caraway with a hint of citrus and basil. My favourite way to use this herb is as a cooling summer drink (recipe on YouGrowGirl.com), but I seem to find more ways to use it every year. Here are some suggestions:
- Crumble dried shiso on top of warm rice. - It is often used fresh as a garnish with sushi and wrapped around balls of rice or meat. - Add fresh leaves to Vietnamese summer rolls. - Add fresh young leaves and seedlings to savoury salads. - Tear young leaves on top of fruit salad. - Use it to make colourful, flavoured salts or vinegars. - The tea is used medicinally in Chinese medicine.
Shiso will thrive unassisted pretty much anywhere. I have spotted mature plants growing in sidewalk cracks, the spaces between pavers, in random pots, and gravel driveways. And even though it tends to prefer sun, I have come upon plants growing in the shade of much taller plants. Shiso is opportunistic and will happily occupy any space where it can get a foothold. This is a resilient herb!
This is an aggressive self-seeder (once it takes hole, you're set), but it's rambunctious ways can be easily thwarted by harvesting the whole lot just before or when it flowers. Too bad I don't follow my own advice! I find myself on hands and knee each spring plucking a bajillion seedlings from the bed. Should you find yourself in this predicament, don't toss them in the compost bin! The young seedlings lend a dash of colour and a unique, savoury something to late spring salads.
Special Notes: Full Sun, but will happily grow wherever it pleases! Ornamental and edible! Grown as a self-seeding annual. Approximately 50 seeds per packet.
Seed Starting and Growing: Most literature suggests direct sowing outdoors AFTER all danger of frost has passed, but I find that the seed knows when to come up and I’ve never had a problem sowing before.
To ensure good germination, indoors or out, sow shiso seed on the soil surface and press in lightly. Do not cover with soil. These seeds require light to germinate, and I think that burying too deeply is the main cause of poor germination for most growers.
About You Grow Girl Seeds:
All of the seeds that I sell were lovingly homegrown and harvested by me, small scale, in my urban garden using organic methods only -- no chemicals or pesticides whatsoever. Tomato varieties are isolated to stay true using the flower bagging method and I test for germination quality. I take special care in choosing varieties that I find unusual, interesting and fabulous, and/or especially suitable for growing in small space gardens.