Green Shiso (Perilla)
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Seed Count: Approx. 100 seeds
Days to Maturity: 85 Days
Description: Green Shiso, aka Perilla, is one heck of an herb to add to your garden. The aroma is reminiscent of cinnamon/clove, and it's described to have an anise like taste with the spiciness of cumin, but to me, it just reminds me of a really strong basil/mint combo? This is a Japanese variety (a bit different from Korean varieties) that boasts leaves in a beautiful shade of green with lots of serrated edges, growing on 1-3 ft. tall plants. If you pinch off the leaves as they grow, you'll promote nice bushy growth, the same way you'd prune a basil to promote bushy plants. Leaves can be used whole for BBQ wraps, pickled, or chopped small to add flavor to your dishes. Shiso can also be grown as a microgreen, for adding complex flavor to salad mixes. Shiso is a heat loving plant, and thrives in summer heat the same way basil does. It also grows well in containers.
How To Grow
Sowing: Since Shiso loves warm weather, it grows best when the soil has warmed and there is no chance of frost. In cool climates, start seeds indoors in the early spring, sowing them thinly, and providing heat to speed up the germination. To direct sow, wait until night time temperatures reach at least 45 degrees, then plant the seeds 1/4" deep, in rich soil and full sun. Seeds should germinate in 7-14 days, if sown indoors, and 14-20 days, if sown outdoors. Be careful not to over water these seedlings, because they are prone to damping off. I've also grown Shiso indoors as a container plant.
Growing: Shiso grows best in full sun, or partial shade, and well draining soil, yet needs to be watered frequently in hot weather. You grow Shiso, exactly how you would basil. As the plant grows, pruning it helps it to develop into a bushy, healthy plant; pruning is also important, because once the plant flowers, it will begin to wilt and die. To prune the plant, pinch off the leaves, taking care to leave at least three sets of leaves on the lower part. Shiso grows well with basil, mints, and parsley.
Harvesting: Shiso can be harvested, at any time, and as leaves are needed. The best time to harvest the leaves are in the morning after the dew dries. After the plant is established, harvesting often actually improves production. Remove single leaves, as needed, just make sure to leave some of the leaves so it can continue to grow. Fresh Shiso can keep in the fridge for up to a week. If you allow it to flower, it will readily reseed itself. Saving Shiso seeds are easy, and similar to basil. You just allow it to flower, and wait for the seed pods to turn brown, then shake them over a container to collect them. You can even use Shiso seeds as a garnish, the same way you would sesame, just expect a strong anise, minty like flavor.