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Growing and cooking with lavender and rice

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Courtesy of Linda Weiss

(Read caption) Sprigs of fragrant lavender add taste and color to many dishes. They're especially tasty when combined with Thai jasmine rice, in this easy-to-prepare dish.

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Growing lavender can be a challenge, especially in hot weather, which many of us seem to be suffering through lately, says gardener Anne Moore.

Choosing the best variety for where you live will give you the finest results. There are many types of lavender rated for my USDA hardiness Zone 8 garden, but they will not withstand the high humidity that hot summers bring.

In the South, Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), with its tight flower heads topped by "donkey ears," is the chief perennial for our hot and humid summers, coming back year after year.

I have decent results by growing Spanish lavender in pots. I suspect any lavender will do best in a container, since this plant really requires good drainage. but it does not tolerate drying out. If you have sandy loam, then by all means, plant your lavender in the ground.

Lavenders also benefit from a shearing down to good strong growth right after you harvest the flowers. This will often not only strengthen the plant but also trigger it to bloom again.

How to grow rice

Growing rice is not for the faint-of-heart or the gardener in a hurry. Nor will you get much of a crop in your backyard garden. However, it can be fun to try something new.

A passive hydroponics system is a great way to grow rice. You can use jasmine rice from the supermarket as the seed, or you can also order rice seed from an online source.

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