We're totally going to eat these if you don't stop us.
October 10, 2013 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Our new apartment comes with a garden that contains a mix of both edible plants and decorative plants. There are a few plants that we're pretty sure are edible, but we'd like to be 100% sure before we, you know, eat them. Help us out? Pictures inside.

So how about it, internet? Are these plants edible?

(Bonus question - how do we tell when the cherry tomatoes also growing in this garden are ripe? They may or may not be red tomatoes.)
posted by kyrademon to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
....Is there a botanic garden or nursery near you? The best way to make sure is to cut a sprig from each thing and bring them there and ask "do you know what this is?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2013


Those are lettuces that have bolted. So technically edible but they won't be very nice, tough and bitter. Your best bet is to remove them and buy replacements given how cheap and easy to grow lettuces are.
posted by shelleycat at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, lettuces often come in three packs with those exact three varieties, where I live anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 9:14 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd say (bolted) red-leaf, oak-leaf, and butter lettuce. Tear it out and plant seeds--you know it'll grow!
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:21 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yep, it's bolted lettuce. Depending on how long of a growing season you have, you could chop it down close to the base to see if it will re-grow -- many varieties of "cut and come again" lettuce do this very easily.

Otherwise, you can leave it be, let it flower, and harvest the resultant seeds for future planting or simply let it die off as-is (it will self-seed and you will have shiny new lettuce next season), cut it down and till it under to enrich the soil, or take a nibble and see if some of the leaves aren't too bitter for your taste... though they probably will be, especially the very tall oak leaf variety.

Even if they don't change color at all, you'll know your possibly-not-red cherry tomatoes are ripe based on the texture and the 'finish' of the skin: a very firm feel and a dull/matte skin means it's unripe, while a slight amount of "give" (slight softness/tenderness) and a shiny/glossy skin means it is ripe.

Once a tomato has turned from matte to glossy, you can bring it indoors to finish ripening. And if you touch a fruit and it readily falls from the vine when you shake or nudge it, it's almost certainly good to go. If all else fails, just pull one off the plant and give it a taste!
posted by divined by radio at 9:46 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who planted the stuff in the garden? Is it meant to be decorative? Do you think whoever planted it would mind if you ate it? These are questions I'd ask myself in your shoes. It could be that the person who planted the plants might not care if people harvest and eat the bounty....but they might.
posted by Lescha at 9:50 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


divined by radio: "Depending on how long of a growing season you have, you could chop it down close to the base to see if it will re-grow -- many varieties of "cut and come again" lettuce do this very easily.

Otherwise, you can leave it be, let it flower, and harvest the resultant seeds for future planting or simply let it die off as-is (it will self-seed and you will have shiny new lettuce next season), cut it down and till it under to enrich the soil, or take a nibble and see if some of the leaves aren't too bitter for your taste... though they probably will be, especially the very tall oak leaf variety.
"

This this this this. No need to just rip it out, it'll make more of itself one way or the other!! Not sure where you're located, but lettuces thrive in cooler weather, they're a spring & fall crop. You've got a pretty good chance of getting it to sprout new leaves if you cut it back. If there are a couple plants of each variety, I would do that with one and let the other die-off and self-seed.

Also, perhaps I'm a weirdo, but I don't find bolted lettuce nearly as unpalatable as it is alleged to be. I like using some of it in salads mixed with milder leaves and some fruit or crumbles of cheese.
posted by desuetude at 11:01 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Refrigerating fresh lettuce overnight greatly helps with the bitterness.
posted by Specklet at 2:01 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


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