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February 16, 2010     Cape Gazette
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February 16, 2010

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T Garden-& Farm Cape Gazette TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16 - THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2010 17 I New DN$ farmer to oversee vegetable growing program Daniel Malcolm has joined the Delaware Nature Society in the role of farmer. He is responsible for the new Community Sup- ported Agriculture program at Coverdale Farm in Greenville. The program will offer fresh pro- duce to its members during the growing season, which runs for 22 weeks from June through No- vember. Malcolm comes to the Delaware Nature Society from Virginia, where he operated a demonstration vegetable garden at Monticello modeled after one that Thomas Jefferson main- tained at the same location from 1807 to 1814. Prior to Monticello, Malcolm worked for a Commu- nity Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Staunton, Va., and on his parents' beef cattle farm. He is a graduate of Mary Washington College in Freder- icksburg, Va. "I love growing vegetables and wanted to get back into produc- tion agriculture," says Malcolm. "Delaware Nature Society's CSA is a great opportunity for me to grow a wide variety of vegeta- bles. I'm also excited that I'll be helping connect people to their food sources and raise awareness of healthy food, farms and good nutrition." The nature society's CSA will offer a variety of cooking, food preparation and nutrition pro- grams throughout the growing season. "When shareholders receive lava beans or kohlrabi in their weekly allotment, we want to make sure that they know how to cook and prepare these more ex- otic specialties," says Malcolm. 'nd it's certainly useful - and fun - to fred new ways to prepare more common items, such as tomatoes and sweet corn." About 40 vegetables will be grown during the CSPs inaugu- ral season on its 3-acre site at Coverdale Farm. The CSA will ultimately utilize 8 acres of land at the 352-acre farm, which is used by the nature society for public, school and group educa- tional programs. Shareholders can expect to receive a wide se- lection of vegetables, both hy- brids and heirlooms. "Our heir- loom tomato varieties will in- clude green zebra and the ever- popular Brandywine," notes Mal- colm. Fifty shares in the CSA be- came available for purchase Jan. 25. They sold out in two hours and a waiting list is currently be- ing maintained. Next year, the CSA will expand and offer addi- tional shares. A gardener need not choose between pain and salvation he gardens and fields seem the work of an almighty creator that we mere gardeners and farmers seem delighted in tampering with. Tampering with God's work was what many saw when two plant varieties were crossed to create new hy- brids to alleviate pain. Gardening can be work and even fun, but it can also be a pain. And who wants pain? Old- est among our pains is the toothache. Until the advent of chloroform and ether, dentistry was brutal indeed. Despite its obvious advan- tages, pain-free demistry was opposed by some religious con- servatives. Stating that pain is natural and God's wrath from original sin, the city of Zurich even outlawed anesthesia alto- gether. But a gardener need not choose between pain and salva- tion, for there among the garden plants is an all-natural toothache painkiller that is as natural as any of creation's work. This toothache plant has bronze- green leaves and startling egg- shaped yellow flowers with haunting red "eyeballs." The leaves and flowers when chewed release an-analgesic that slightly numbs the mouth and gums, relieving toothaches. In- deed, some have likened it to licking a battery. The taste is one of incredible coolness. Most people f'md the taste fun or fun- ny, like popping candy. This herb, Spilanthes oleracea, (also known as Epilates acmella) is native to the tropics of Africa and South America. It grows 12 to 15 inches high, spreading 24 to THIS HERB, SPILANTHES OLERACEA, (also known as Epilates acmella) is native to the tropics of Africa and South America. 30 inches wide. This is a fast- growing herb that is a tender an- nual, though it can be kept pot- ted indoors. It is a perennial in warmer cli- mates, USDA zones 9 and high- er. Seeds are available from Richters nursery (, 905-640-6677), Nichols Garden Nursery (nicholsgardennurs-, 541-928-9280) and Pine- tree Garden Seeds (Pinetree, PO Box 300, New Gloucester, ME 04260, 207-926-3400). Sow the seeds directly in the garden in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. You can also plant the seeds directly into pots. Spilanthes grows well in full sun or partial shade. For an earlier crop you can start the seeds indoors and transplant to the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Once you have plants you can propagate them by taking stem cuttings that will root easily in water. This herb needs regular wa- tering, so don't allow the plant to dry out. To encourage bushy growth pinch back to the second set of leaves. This is a nutritious herb. Liven up a salad with shredded fresh leaves. When cooked, the leaves become mild and can be used like spinach or any leafy greens. In Brazil the leaves are cooked with chili pep- pers and garlic. The whole flower buds taste somewhat grassy, followed by a pungent tingling, followed by a unique cooling sensation in the throat. Sometimes called Szech- wan buttons, the buds are used in India to flavor chewing tobac- co. Spilanthes increases the flow of saliva which helps cleanse the mouth, tone the gums and im- prove your immune system. Spi- lanthes also helps digestion and reduces flatulence. It can even improve your appetite. Because it stimulates the salivary glands, it can treat nausea and even vomiting. This workhorse of an herb has been used in traditional medi- cine to treat malaria, which strongly suggests that it could have a similar effect against oth- er blood parasites such as Lyme disease. Whether potted up as an in- teresting "eyeball" flower or grown as a mouth-tingling herb, Spilanthes will become a curi- ous and welcome addition to your garden. With a nod to Robert Browning, suffer not with toothaches when this herb is in your garden and see that God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world. Paul 13arbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to RO. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.