Shiso (Perilla) and Mitsuba Seeds

This post features my first attempts to germinate shiso and mitsuba seeds … the timing isn’t the best but I think I learned a lot for next spring.

As a fan of Japanese dishes, especially sushi, I’ve heard of shiso, also known as perilla, and its various uses in both its green and red forms.

Most simply the green version can be included in hand rolls or as an edible garnish under sashimi. The red form is most famously used for coloring pickled plum, or umeboshi. I happened to whine express my culinary interest in acquiring some in correspondence with a blogging Swiss friend and she offered to send me some seeds from her plants. I emailed her my snail mail addy, and as it was almost the end of summer, thought I’d have something to look forward to in the spring. I was pleasantly surprised to find an envelope in the mail in almost no time as well as detailed growing instructions and the assurance that more seeds would come for spring planting.

So, with nothing to lose, I gave it a shot.

The shiso seeds are small and round, similar to basil seeds in size. And like with basil seeds, you get the first embryonic leaves peeking through a light covering of soil about 4-5 days after planting. Wait until the first TRUE leaves appear and the stalk is about an inch in height before thinning and transplanting the seedlings into larger pots. I planted 10 seeds and got 5 germinating.

Shiso seeds were planted in the back row … you can see the first 3 seedlings.

D-shaped embryonic leaves with more normal oval shaped leaves in the middle.

Shiso leaves have their 2nd and 3rd set of ‘true’ leaves. Only one of the mitsuba seedling has its first set of ‘true’ leaves. They were planted at the same time.

Also included in the package were seeds for mitsuba, also known as Japanese parsley, which is said to have a celery like flavour with a number of uses, including as a garnish in soups and as a sushi ingredient.

Mitsuba seeds are long, thin and black, similar to cumin seeds. I attempted to germinate about 10-12 seeds but only 3 sprouted. The embryonic leaves reminded me of leaves of grass so I wondered if I had actually managed to sprout one when the first hint of green peeked through the soil. Only the husk of the seed coat, which was still attached let me know I had succeeded.

At first I thought only one seed had germinated but over the course of the next 10 days, a second and then finally a third sprout was seen. It took almost 3 weeks for the first ‘true’ leaf to appear.

And even longer before I felt confident enough to transplant them into pots. Parsley like ‘true’ leaves.

ETA: 10/10/2016 Since I was having so much trouble with the mitsuba germination, I tried a method suggested by the friend who sent me the seeds to germinate the shiso – on damp cottonballs misted with water daily after 2 days of refrigerating.

It took a bit over 3 weeks but 2 out of the 11 seeds germinated… so far. I covered 6 of the seeds with a damp paper towel as well, as a test.

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16 thoughts on “Shiso (Perilla) and Mitsuba Seeds

    1. Oh, I wish that was true. I really don’t. I’ve killed off more plants than I like to admit. Like my mom’s memorial orchids … I kept meaning to buy orchid food for them but I just never got around to it.

      1. I am useless with my little flower garden in the apartment I rent.
        There are two rose bushes. I do nothing for them and they stubbonly produce flowers. Otherwise, my general lack of interest means I’d never have a green thumb.

      2. My dad planted a couple of bunches of tulips and Naked Ladies in the enclosed ‘garden’ area in front of the house. They come up year after year. As do the daffodils and narcissus. And there are some grape hyacinths in the back.

        If not for that, all I’d have is weeds. Though the golden dandelions and the purple hyacinths look lovely together.

        http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/tag/gardening

      3. It’s currently tulip season here. I do love the look of bulbs, especially when they are planted in large plots. We have quite a few places that show them off and on bright fine days it really is beautiful.

  1. Congratulations!!!! I cannot believe you have managed to grow such big plants at the end of summer! It’s funny that shiso grew so quickly compared to mitsuba (in my case it’s always the other way round). You really have a talent for gardening! Both mitsuba and shiso look beautiful. I hope you’ll enjoy eating them too.

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