Monday, June 15, 2009

Oscarde lettuce

Today I harvested a nice batch of Oscarde lettuce that has been growing in the greenhouse in a DWC system. Oscarde is described as follows:

"Compact, red oak leaf-type lettuce produces an exceptionally full rosette of deep red, curled oak shaped leaves"

I have been expecting the plants to bolt to seed as the seed catalog stated they would, however these plants showed no sign of bolting. That may be because I have been using the shade cloth everyday the sun is shining to keep the temperature from getting too high. That most likely accounts for the plants not being deep red in color, as it has been my experience that high light levels are needed to bring on the deeper colors.

The Oscarde has been replaced in the DWC system with Physalis, or Groundcherry, which I planted from seeds obtained from fruit my wife purchased in the fall at a farmer's market.

Physalis (pronounced /ˈfaɪsəlɪs/)[1] is a genus of plants in the nightshade family (Solanaceae), native to warm temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world. The genus is characterised by the small orangey fruit similar in size, shape and structure to a small tomato, but partly or fully enclosed in a large papery husk derived from the calyx. Many Physalis species are called Groundcherries. One name for Physalis peruviana is Cape Gooseberry, not to be confused with the vast majority of gooseberries, which are of the genus Ribes.

The typical Physalis fruit is similar to a firm tomato (in texture), and like strawberries or other fruit in flavor; they have a mild, refreshing acidity. The flavor of the Cape Gooseberry (P. peruviana) is a unique tomato/pineapple-like blend. Physalis fruit have around 53 kcal for 100 grams[2] , and are rich in cryptoxanthin.

Its uses are similar to the common tomato or to fruits with a refreshing taste. Once extracted from its husk, it may be eaten raw or used in salads, desserts, as a flavoring, and in jams and jellies. They can also be dried and eaten much like figs, apricots or grapes.

As this plant is native to subtropical regions I expect that it will thrive in the greenhouse in the DWC system. Time will tell.....

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