As many of you know, I love plants. I was a florist starting in high school and worked in the trade part-time for fifteen years. Then I graduated with my BS in Biology in 2015 and focused my personal research in botany. Finding out I was unable to eat most fruits and veggies, not to mention handle plants or enjoy their fragrance, was devastating.

While renting, I decided to be the champion of green onions in potted containers. Rather than throwing out the bases of the onions after using the greens with my sour cream, I’d plop them into the dirt and have a new plant. They even grew in water in a plain cup on my window sill when I was too lazy to go outside.

I now own my own home, and attempted to start gardening, but ultimately, I haven’t been very successful. Most of my Brassicas (cabbages family) were eaten by cabbage butterfly larva, and the cats in the neighborhood used my boxes for their “personal business”. I may try again later, using netting and caging.

On this page is a list of items I had attempted growing.

Before buying any seeds, look at the list of no/low salicylate foods: https://low-sal-life.com/food-and-products-salicylate-list/

What I’ve planted

Borage

blue borage flowers

Borage flowers are edible – they are lovely and blue – and I have no idea what their salicylate content is. The flowers taste like cucumber, so that may be a bad sign! I plant them in the garden – because let’s face it, it’s not all about me every time. They actually make a good companion plant for vegetables and provide lovely blooms that attract bees. I’ve also been more interested in perennial gardens and intercropping. The idea is to mix plants up in the garden, rather than planting a whole crop in one bed. This creates a little more confusion for pests to find your veggies, and plants like borage can host other predator bugs to manage those pests. This plant reseeds well and grows easily, beware though, it can get a little bit out-of-hand.

Beans

  • I tried black beans, also called turtle beans, Bush variety.
  • I also tried soy beans, variety Sayamusume.
  • White beans, State White Runner Beans

Bok Choy

Part of the challenge of a low-salicylate diet is managing how your plants respond to stress. Plants use salicylates for many reasons, and natural chemical defense is one of them. My bok choy sprouted easily and once I planted them outside, they were obliterated right away by cabbage worms. I have learned that putting a net over your Brassicas (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy) can help keep cabbage moths from landing and laying eggs on your plants. I purchased Burpee Bok Choy.

Brussels Sprouts

I planted the Ferry-Morse seed, variety Catskill.

Cabbage

The seeds I purchased were Golden Acre Cabbage – Serendipity Seeds.

Chayote/Choko Squash

low salicylate food chayote

Chayote is a low-salicylate squash that grows in warm areas as a perennial as a climbing vine. I purchased my sprouted chayote in late March from an Etsy shop (now closed). In Eastern Washington, I was able to get leaves, but no fruit. I will attempt again in a sunnier location in the future. I do plan, if I can get them to survive until September, to bring them into large containers and store them in the basement or garage.

Green onions

I’ve yet to buy any seeds or plants for green onions because I just use the bulb/root left over from the pack I get at the grocery store and sprout them on my window sill. After a few weeks I’ll plant them outside. In western Washington, where the weather was fairly mild, they survived in pots next to my house year round, including surviving some frost and snow. Now in Eastern Washington, these survive year round, but sometimes they’re too mature to continue eating from. They do make very cool ornamental plants and send up large globe white flowers. They are super low-maintenance.

Iceberg Lettuce

I tried Heirloom Iceberg Lettuce from Serendipity Seeds – which did grow. However, that spring it got hot really fast and they bolted (even in part shade). This means that rather than spending time making leaves for us to eat, they panicked from stress and sent out reproductive structures (flowers) to continue their genetic line. I collected the seeds they produced and will try again in the future.

Nasturtium

Probably not a low-salicylate flower. They do have beautiful red blooms and have a peppery flavor when added to salads. The color and spice should be enough to stay away. However, it does make a good companion plant in gardens attracting aphids, cabbage worms, and whiteflies away from crops – especially cabbages and potatoes. They are easy to grow, will reseed themselves, and may get out of hand, but not considered invasive.

Onions

I’ve tried a few of these out. I know onions are a medium salicylate, but it’s all about dose for me.  I can tolerate a very small amount and the extra flavor is worth it to me. They also store really well for a long time. I do best with the sweet onions.

  • Sweet Spanish, by Serendipity Seeds
  • Burpee Walla Walla
  • White onion (little starts)

Sunflowers

I can really only handle about 2 Tbsp of shelled sunflower seeds a day. And yes, I did the math, which comes out to 730 Tbsp a year, or 46 cups. One sunflower head produces 1,000-2,000 seeds! Thanks to someone on yahoo, 1/4 cup = 283 seeds, so one cup has 1,132 seeds, which means I need to plant 26-52 plants for a year’s worth of seeds (if I didn’t share, of course). This was a successful crop for us, out of about 5 plants, I got a pint of unshelled seeds. I purchased Confectionary Sunflower Seeds.