The Greenhouse & Kitchen is located at Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park, 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031
Plant of the Month | ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’, Monstera deliciosa
Monstera deliciosa, is a tropical, flowering plant native to southern Mexico and Panama. It is famous for the ridges and holes found on it’s more mature leaves, giving it the nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” Part of the Araceae family of plants, it can grow up to twelve feet tall with leaves that spread nearly two feet wide.
When growing in their native climates monstera produces fruit, known as “Mexican breadfruit,” that look like ears of corn with a pineapple-like flesh, and are said to taste like a medley of banana, mango, and pineapple. These fruits can take up to a year to ripen, and can cause mouth and stomach irritation if consumed before ripe. Important to note, all other parts of the plant are toxic to both humans and animals if eaten.
There has been much speculation about the interesting shape and pattern of the leaves, specifically about the holes giving the plant the popular nickname “Swiss cheese plant.” One theory suggests that the holes maximize the leaf’s surface area, allowing it to capture more sunlight on the forest floor. Another suggests that the holes allow tropical rains to pass through the leaves with less damage to the plant, inspiring another common nickname “hurricane plant.”
Monstera deliciosa is an easy plant to care for in your home. They are relatively low maintenance, and will thrive in most environments. The plants do well in areas with filtered, indirect light, as too much harsh sunlight will scorch the leaves. They prefer soil that is consistently, slightly moist, but are sensitive to overwatering. They typically need to be watered no more than once a week, or if the top two inches of soil are dry. Because monstera are natural climbers, once the plant grows more mature it helps to add a stake or trellis to provide extra support. If your monstera grows too large, they respond well to trimming, and you can even use the cuttings to start a new plant!
Seasonal Recipes: From Our Kitchen to Yours
Split Pea Soup with Parsley Croutons
Split Pea Soup is perfect, healthy meal for a cold winter day. Full of flavor and loaded with potatoes, peas, and carrots, it is not only just filling, but also delicious. For a crunchy addition, top it with homemade croutons!
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried (or 1 Tablespoon fresh) oregano
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 2 medium red boiling potatoes, diced (unpeeled)
- 1 pound dried split green peas
- 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock or water
- 1 baguette (day-old is fine)
- ¼ cup (fresh) parsley, chopped
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In 6-quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic with a few tablespoons olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper until onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes, split peas and vegetable stock. Bring to boil and simmer, uncovered for approximately 40 minutes or until peas are soft. Stir frequently.
While soup is simmering, cut up baguette into 1-inch cubes and toss with olive oil and chopped parsley and spread out on a sheet tray. Place in oven for approximately 10 minutes or until crisp.
Enjoy soup served hot with croutons.
Recipe by The Hort’s own, Annette Nielsen
Baked Chicken with Vegetables
- 1-1/4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, divided
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 chicken drumsticks
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 small lemon, sliced
- 1 package (5 ounces) fresh spinach
Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, onions, oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Transfer to a 15x10x1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix paprika and the remaining thyme, salt and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with paprika mixture; arrange over vegetables. Top with lemon slices. Roast until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170°-175° and vegetables are just tender, 35-40 minutes.
Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm. Top vegetables with spinach. Roast until vegetables are tender and spinach is wilted, 8-10 minutes longer. Stir vegetables to combine; serve with chicken.
Recipe by Chef Noah Sheetz of Chef’s Consortium