Friday, June 26, 2015

Whats in a Name?

So green!

I always hate when they change the name of a family. The Apiaceae family will forever be the Umbelliferea family to me. I have a bed of miscellaneous Apiaceae in one bed. I love their different green textures.

The fennel has been slowly sizing up. I pick a few each week to use in my salads. Since these were sort of self sown - I tossed old seed heads on the bed - the plants are way too close together. So eating is my way of thinning. Eventually I'll let some of them go and flower.

The celery on the other hand were sown indoors and spaced fairly far apart. Celery hasn't done so well for me in the past. I've gotten the plants to grow but they never produced that much. This year I have a lot more plants and I've given each one ore space. They are growing better. I've started harvesting the outer most stalks. each week. So far they have been small, but the newer stalks are getting much bigger.

Also in the bed is some celeriac that won't be harvested until fall. But the parsley right near it is doing very well. I pick a few leaves every couple of days to use in the kitchen. I keep a bouquet of them on the counter so I have some fresh during dinner. I find I'm more apt to use it if it is always there.

I'm obviously not the only one to like this family of plants. I've got a small praying mantis patrolling for bugs. I've seen them here and there in the garden earlier on when they were tiny. It is nice to see them growing. I also saw one in the raspberry patch today. When they get full sized they will freak me out a bit. They do get huge. And they look so much like sticks from a distance that I won't notice them until I'm almost touching them. Gack! But I love them anyway. They are such cool creatures.

I do have a plant from another family in this bed. The peas which are in the Fabaceae family. Again they changed the name on me. The name legumes are in common usage here, but it is no longer Leguminosae. Why oh why do they do that? Since I can't eat the peas, they are going to be pulled out. I was just waiting for some seeds to show up.

And they did today. I wanted some amaranth seed. Ones that were bred for greens and not flowers. Though I'm sure their flowers are pretty enough. I've been wanting to try them. I figured if they had calliloo in their names they would make good greens. I've had calliloo in the Caribbean, but most of the time they made it with dasheen leaves. I wanted to know what dasheen looked like and one of my guides pointed out the plants. I'd always called them taro and hadn't a clue until then that you could eat the leaves too. I always thought it was a root vegetable.

I think tomorrow I'll get out and plant my seeds. Though I'm still contemplating starting them indoors first. I could always do it both ways and see what works. I have absolutely no experience with these plants. I just hope I can keep them small enough. The packet says three feet apart, but they are talking about for seed. Hopefully if I keep cutting it, it will stay smaller. Or I can start new ones on occasion. If anyone has any hints, let me know.


  1. Your celery looks beautiful. I am quite jealous :)

  2. I love the designs on the seed packets. Have to admit I had never heard of Amaranth had to look it up..

  3. I hate family name changes too, I just can't unlearn the old ones.

    I've grown a few different varieties of amaranth over the years. Many of them are dual purpose, grown for greens and/or grain. I grow them for the greens, but often times I have allowed them to go to seed to save. Most of the varieties can get to be huge, 6 feet tall or more if they have the space and the flowers aren't generally very special. You can keep them small by growing them closer together and keeping them trimmed. The seedlings transplant readily and the plants grow quickly in warm weather. I've been growing a couple of Asian varieties for the past few years, Tender Leaf and Thai Tender because they are both dwarf varieties and do have especially tender leaves so far as amaranth goes. My biggest pest problems have been birds which will pluck entire young plants out of the ground and aphids.

  4. I had no idea that plant family names changed so easily - I just assumed they were fairly established and only a significant change in our understanding of a particular plant would result in a reclassification. Now my inquiring mind will be looking into that...Fabaceae family for peas? That will take a lot of getting used to.

    Your celery looks wonderful! That's another one of those crops that I'll probably try at some point, but I'm just not ready to tackle quite yet. I love praying mantises too - we have seen a few in our yard, but would enjoy seeing more. I have a feeling they are there, but I'm just not taking the time to be as observant as I should be.

  5. I'm growing the Miriah Leaf amaranth this year which is not a grain type. I don't have bird problems like Michelle but the flea beetles love it. As for the name changes, I think they will always be "Umbelliferea" for me. And are we to call beans and peas fabaces now instead of legumes?

  6. Have you tried growing Leaf Celery? It has all the flavour of "proper" Celery, but never produces big thick stalks - in fact it performs much like Flat-leaf Parsley. The big advantage is that it uses much less space than the normal Celery.

    1. No I've never tried that. But one of the reasons I like celery is the crunch which you wouldn't get from the leaves. Though my husband would prefer it without a crunch.