Wild plants in my garden

With so much rain and warmth and despite the garden being cultivated at a distance from its natural tendencies, nature still has its way, I'm glad to say. I always have certain plants that grow in my garden and I leave them and make the most of them. 

Here you can see what I just harvested from a couple of chile piquín plants that grow in the most unlikely places. They belong to the capsicum family and the chiles are tiny and red but have a kick, that's for sure. They are great in salsas. The plant has a tiny white flower, the fruit grows and goes from green to black to orange to red and here you can see the rich red colour that they end up with. For use in salsas they are best left to dry a bit and then liquidized with tomato, garlic and onion. Delicious.

Below you can see the plant, although the photo I just took is awful...

chile piquín plant
I often get epazote as well, although I don't have any right now. It is a native herb that is used in cooking, specially when cooking black beans as it helps to reduce the gas element. It's also used in quesadillas, soups and other things, it has quite a strong taste so a little is sometimes enough. 

Another herb that I have growing outside my front door is pápalo. This can be added to salads in very small quantities as it has a very strong taste, or combined with quesadillas. Wikipedia suggests it tastes somewhere between arugula, cilantro and rue, but I'm not sure about that, I find it really strong to the taste but it is really something you need to get used to. 

A lot of people find it too strong, others love it. 

Another plant that often comes up at will is the wild tomato, another native plant, with tiny tomatoes that are full of seeds. They are delicious and sweet and wonderful for salsas. It seems pretty obvious how the indigenous people centuries ago came up with the idea for salsas, since all the ingredients are growing everywhere at hand.

Not for eating are the calendulas; I have a mass of them flowering all over the place. They tend to grow where they want and keep coming up every year. Plus we keep the flowers from the year before and scatter the seeds round the garden and with the rain the plants grow. They are so bright and beautiful and herald the arrival of the cempazuchitl which is already growing too. This plant is the typical Day of the Dead plant, and is a type of marigold, more of that later when it starts to flower.

Anyway, the calendulas are beautiful and I have them in vases in my house. Here I have them in a rose bowl, which was a wedding present way back when, and they look stunning. 


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