Coriander is a striking plant when it blooms, marvelous white irregular shaped flower heads top the plants by the beginning to the middle of the summer.  Coriander is a very nice herb, actually not much used, and that’s a pity.  I like especially the use of the leaves, which are great added to tomato sauces or other things.  These leaves are produced abundantly during spring and autumn, in summer plants tend to bolt quite quickly.  Young seedlings sown before the winter are surprisingly hardy, and take quite a bit of frost.  They start regrowing in spring when the ground heats up a bit, and give a crop very quickly. 

Some varieties have been selected for tasty leaves, such as santo or others, some have been selected on slow-bolting qualities (slobolt and others..)

Another use are the seeds, they are ground and added to curries and other oriental dishes .


Corn (zea mays) can be divided into some groups: dent corn, this is the one that can be seen everywhere in West-Europe, its main use is for feeding animals (sadly enough), crows survive on left-overs of corn during wintertime as well... flint corn, with round kernels, again mainly used for animals (and industry as well), pop corn, the one used for making pop corn, off course, sweet corn, the most interesting one (but the one that’s not grown out much), good for fresh eating, or place it in the oven with some garlic butter,or...

Indian or squaw corn is the corn that was cultivated a lot by native North American people, very easy to grind and used  to make all sorts of bread-like things.  Most of the corns are hybrid varieties, but luckily  there are still some open-pollinated corn varieties, with an amazing colour variability. 

Corn is easy to grow, although it requires a minimum of heat and nutritients.  Seed-saving though isn’t really easy: it cross-pollinates readily  (with other corn up to 7 km away)and you need a minimum of about two hundred plants of one variety to have a good genetic base...


Also known as mâche.  A favourite winter crop for many organic farms in West-Europe, it grows at quite low temperatures and is very resistant to frosts. Actually, I have never tried to grow corn salad (valerianella locusta) in any other season.  The taste of the leaves is mild, a bit sweetish, tender.  They can be used for salads, and for hot dishes.


I’m having a hard time growing this out, I don’t want to sacrifice space in my greenhouse for this, so I’m trying to grow it outside, with more failure than success.  It needs lots of warmth, and really hates our Belgian summers, they usually die.  I had some good luck in exceptionally hot summers, and the taste of the pods was just great!  As usual , there are lots of varieties, bush and rampant, off-coloured and so on...


Now, these are nice little plants, they have some reputation of being weedy, but they are certainly not weedy in my garden, although they do take a bit more space every year (and I have been growing these for more than 15 years).  Crosne (stachys affinis) is grown for the edible tubers, that are formed during late summer and (especially) autumn.  The tubers can reach up to 10 cms, but they usually stay a bit smaller, 8 cms or less.  They have a very good taste when they are fried in a bit of oil for just about 15 minutes (just add a pinch of salt to improve the taste). 

Crosne seems to like a soil that’s on the wet side, the plants stay very small , usually not bigger than 40-50 cms.


Now, apparently I lost or misplaced my cucumber pictures, I don’t find them... Cucumbers (cucumis sativus) not only come in their familiar shape (long, dark green and not ‘fat’), but there are also round, oblong, fat and other sorts of cucumber.  The plants are easy to grow, they do require a bit of warmth, a good fertile soil and preferably some extra heat around the roots.  There are some varieties that can be grown outside over here (lemon, crystal apple,telegraph,...) . Some oriental cultivars have been created, they are longer and thinner compared to ours, but these are even more demanding in heat.


This is a plant that annoys me, I find cumin (cuminum cyminum) one of the finest herbs existing, and I’m having so much problems growing it out, either it gets eaten by slugs, either it dies because of too much rain, and sometimes I can grow a bit of the precious seeds to aromatise some dishes.  So, just give it enough heat, keep the slugs away, harvest the seeds just in time because they tend to fall down in rainy weather, it doesn’t take up too much space, so it can be planted quite closely. And just hope the summer will be good...