Shiso Leaf Is Native To China & Also Used In Japanese, Thai, Korean & Indonesian Dishes. The Taste is Like a Cinnamon Scented Basil, With Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter & Umami Undertones. In This Article I’ll Explain How To Grow Shiso Leaf
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How to Grow Shiso Leaf is often the first question gardeners ask after they’ve tasted it’s exquisite flavour.
Shiso (Perilla frutescens and its curly relative Perilla frutescens var. crispa) come comes in two forms, plain leafed and curly leafed. And there are two colours, green and deep red. Both can be grown from seed and to date most of that grown in the West has been as an ornamental plant. But that is beginning to change.
The finalists in Master Chef The Professionals 2021 made good use of Shiso in several dishes and this has prompted many people to want to learn more. So here is my best advice on what I consider an interesting plant that is going to become more popular in 2022.
What Parts Of The Shiso Leaf Plant Can I Eat?
You’d expect the name to be a give away. But is isn’t just the Shiso Leaf that can be eaten. the flowers, seeds and even sported seeds can be used to create flavours or a garnish. It makes a great substitute for basil and can be shredded in Asian themed salads to give an interesting flavour. You can also dip the flower spikes or leaves in a tempura batter and deep fry them.
How To Grow Shiso Leaf
Many sources suggest sowing seen indoors between late winter and early spring and outdoors between late spring and early summer. The main problem with this advice is that many growers see it as. a decorative plant and not an edible plant. The RHS don’t even mention Perilla frutescens as being edible so they will not be thinking of year round leaf production. However suppliers of Shiso Leaf to professional kitchens offer it all year around so it stands to reason it can be grown year around. And I’m confident that a skilful grower will be able to germinate and grow it for at least 10 months of the year without resorting to grow lights etc.
Shiso seeds however have a short shelf life so use as fresh a seed as you can get. I can find no reliable data on germination temperatures. Many websites suggest a minimum temperature of 20C, there’s lower temperatures, but my inclination is to go for 16-17C. It might take them longer but I strongly suspect this will be far more reliable a temperature. Many seeds go dormant if it gets too warm and judging by the comments about growing it being tricky I suspect this is one of them!
Beware Of Frost
The plant is also frost susceptible so care needs to be taken on planting up outside. Wait until frosts have passed. But prior to this I suggest you treat it as any other leafy salad and grow in modules or start them in seed trays and move into pots/modules once they are big enough to handle. As with all modularised or potted plants that need planting out do it before they get pot bound and hungry.
Obviously the plants will benefit from being hardened off a bit before planting out. Though I have to say that as a commercial grower we’d often take plants direct from greenhouse to field without hardening then off. But we would have given the plants a lot of ventilation in the last days before planting out.
The plants might benefit from fleece for the first days or weeks, though again as a commercial grower I didn’t fleece most crops (unless they were really early crops and I wanted a commercial advantage regarding harvest date).
Many Other Asian Vegetable Crops & Non-Traditional Ethnic Crops Can Be Grown In The U.K.