Edible Landscaping

December Q & A

Question: So I took the challenge and grew celeriac in my North Carolina garden this year. The plants produced well, but I'm running out of recipes and things to do with them. Also, can I store them in winter?

Answer: Good for you for trying a new vegetable. These knobby roots have a great celery flavor and I use them in a variety of ways in my kitchen. Certainly you can steam them or use them in soups, but I like to roast them with other fall vegetables such as carrots and potatoes. Another way I use them is shredded raw in salads with apples. The color and flavor of the celeriac blends well with sweet flavor of apples. To prevent the raw celeriac flesh from turning brown when shredded, sprinkle it with lemon juice.

Once you find a few recipes you like, you can serve them over the holidays. To keep your celeriac as fresh as possible, cover the roots in the garden with a 6-inch thick layer of hay or straw. Harvest as you need them and recover the crop. In your climate they should last well into winter. You can also harvest the roots and store them in a cool, dark location as you would other root crops, such as carrots.

Question: I've enjoyed my purple sage plant for a few years now in my New Mexico garden, but the leaves keep getting smaller and smaller each year. What should I do?

Answer: Your sage may need a little fertilizer boost or rejuvenation pruning. Next spring give your plant a haircut. Cut it back significantly, removing up to one-third of the old growth. Once new growth starts, give the plant a dose of fish emulsion fertilizer and mulch it with compost. This should stimulate new leaf and stem growth and hopefully larger leaves.

If this still doesn't force the sage plant to produce larger leaves, consider getting a new plant or taking cuttings from the old one. Take 4- to 6-inch long cuttings in spring, dip the cut ends in rooting hormone powder, and place the cuttings in a plastic pot filled with moistened potting soil in a shady, warm location. They should root in a few weeks. Keep the new plants well watered until established, and once you get some new growth, start harvesting for cooking.

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