All About Growing Epazote:
Epazote is a plant that does best planted in the spring after the last dangerous frosts have well past the area when temperatures are consistently at least 50 degrees each day. Full sun and well-drained soil serve the epazote plant best. Epazote plants are considered as weeds by some, others consider them the perfect companion to a cooked dish of beans. Epazote is native to South and Central America and was a prized herb by the Aztec culture for both culinary and medicinal uses since ancient times. Epazote is key to Mexican dishes and is a staple ingredient in many bean-based dishes. It's similar to cilantro with a smell and taste that people either love or hate, but there really is no middle ground for most people. This is not a plant that can be duplicated or multiplied by any other plant out there. There is really nothing else that tastes or functions quite like it.
Seed Sowing Depth: The average epazote seed is best sown right to the surface of the soil, or at a shallow depth of only 1/16 of an inch deep. The soil should be moist and warm with temperatures above 50 degrees each day to allow plants to flourish appropriately. These seeds will grow rapidly and without control may overtake the entire garden area of someone's growing space.
When To Sow: Seeds should be sown in the mid-spring when temperatures are reach the mid-50s each day which is April to May for many moderate climate regions. The seeds will take 2-3 weeks to break through the soil and a few more to grow into totally mature plants for an early-summer harvest. Staggering the planting of seeds every few weeks throughout the spring to allow the harvesting season to span the mid-summer to late-fall time period.
Sowing Indoors/Outdoors: Epazote is best when sown outside as the plant does best in direct, full sunlight. Temperatures above 50 degrees ensure that the plant is going to grow to its fullest potential. Moreover, there should be no freezes or frosts at night to ensure the best growth for your epazote plants.
If epazote is grown indoors, it should be done on a window sill or in full sunlight and transferred outdoors at the first possible chance. Growing inside for 4-6 weeks in early spring is feasible long as it's in direct sunlight before moving the plant outside. Moving it after the first weeks of growth can result in damaged plants that don't grow to their full capacity.
Plant Height & Width: Epazote plants grow to be about 4 feet in height with reddish colored stems. The greens are dark green and sharply toothed. Plants are about 8-10" wide as they grow quite tall.
Leafs Color/Description: The epazote plant is a reddish-stemmed plant with bright green leaves with sharp "teeth" shaped into the plants. These dark, tall, green, leafy plants produce small yellow-green flowers that grow along the stem and prove to be comparable in tastes and looks to cilantro or other similar plants like licorice., pine, or camphor.
Growth Habits: The epazote will grow rapidly and tall to about 4 ft. in total height. If you harvest the tips of the stems of the plant every 2-3 weeks it will continue to grow more epazote and allow the harvester to have continual harvests throughout the growing season. Epazote will grow best in warmer weather that is consistently reaching the 50s or higher each day after all frosts have passed. Watering plants 2-3x a week with a steady stream of water that is not overpowering or damaging (assuming there is no rain to assist in watering) will help keep the plant healthy through its entire growing cycle.
General Information on Epazote & It's Uses: Epazote is a culinary ingredient which provides can be added to bean dishes to create a new, unique taste that is not available with any other type of edible plant. It fits great with beans as it is believed to help prevent flatulence. This ingredient also appears in Mexican and Guatemalan dishes recipes close by other ingredients like fish and mushrooms.
Many people will use epazote in dishes they are creating. Be sure to use them sparingly to your family's tasting as they are very strong in flavor and they go great with other ingredients such as squash dishes, chilis, split pea soups, or egg dishes to name a few options for using epazoteseeds as an ingredient. Other flavors that will compliment the epazote flavor well will include cilantro, green chili peppers, pork, corn, shellfish, and a variety of other types of fish to name a few flavors that go well with this herbal spice.
Epazote has many medicinal uses as well including its reputation for helping treat intestinal parasites. to preserve the plant be sure to store these dry leaves whole in sealed containers and keep them in dark, cool, yet very dry place. To release the best flavors be sure to crumble the leaves finely before using them in any dishes you are trying to make. These epazote leaves may also be freezed, either when they are dried as whole leaves or crumbled into small bits to help add taste to dishes that you choose. Again, remember that epazote is a potent herbal spice and only a small portion is needed to add quite a bit of flavor and pizazz to a dish that would otherwise be bland and boring. Flavor and season each dish and test it till you find the taste that works for you. Remember, you can add more spice but taking it out is a lot harder than adding more till you find the taste you enjoy!
Epazote paralyses parasites by being a strong laxative and stopping the parasites from advancing any further through the intestinal system with its power. It's been known as an essential oil since the 19th century as it later became a massive ingredient in the 20th century pharmaceutical company arsenal.
On the other hand, some of the epazote plants are used for things like creating wreath-based, dried floral decorations. Use caution when handling the dried seeds or leaves as they are known to cause dermatitis or other reactions in some individuals who are more sensitive to certain types of spices.
Pests & Diseases of Epazote: Epazote usually won't have anything related to pest problems as the aroma of the leaves and the texture of the plant tend to clear all parasites and pests out of the area very quickly without any assistance from anything but the odor of the plant. Furthermore, crushing and spreading some leaves of some other epazote plants will even repel the most annoying pests such as ants. Clip and continue to keep the leafs in check from overtaking the entire garden as the can grow rapidly and growing unchecked can overtake entire areas of your garden rapidly.
Harvesting & Storage Information of Epazote: Harvesting of epazote can come at any point after the plants are established. Leaves are best if they are picked in the morning after the dew dries off of the plants. Be sure to air dry leaves on screens or by hanging upside down and letting them dry out.