Last year I began what looks to be a lifelong love of Hostas. Not only are they an attractive shade plant, which grows happily where a lot of other plants do not, but they are edible. And I like to eat them!

Hubs will eat boiled or sauteed greens. He does not complain of it when I serve them, unless they have a sulphur brassica flavor. Then he is not happy (I think I could get him to eat sweet winter baby cabbage leaves, but I'd have to not tell him what they were!).

But he does not know what Hostas taste like. Last year there was only enough for me! I was not being selfish, I was having trouble digesting most vegetables, but hostas were one I could handle. I had only three little new plants, from which I selectively plucked leaves, as much as I dared. It was never enough to make even ONE serving of vegetable, let alone two! And hubs would never scold me for not sharing anything green with him anyway!

Hostas don't grow really fast. They do pop up before a lot of other food crops are ready, which is a nice advantage. But one plant may get to be a foot or three around, depending on the size of the leaves. The smaller ones taste better, of course! The bigger varieties tend to be tougher.

Another plant, Bishop's Weed, looks a lot like Hostas from a distance. It is reputedly an aggressive grower. It also happens to be edible, but I have not yet acquired it, and would have to find room for it if I do. I don't know what it tastes like, but it holds more promise as a food crop than Hostas. It may actually produce enough that a small patch would give us several meals worth of vegetable.

But Hostas grow more slowly, even when they are really happy. Every shoot you eat is one less crown that will grow that year. Every time you want to eat leaves you have to rob a lot of plants of the tender leaves, and they just don't produce enough to do that more than a few times each year.

Even if I have 20 or 30 Hosta plants, all it will mean is that I now have enough to have a full serving of vegetable when I cook them up. Maybe, if they are well established (they take a few years to really get going), I may have enough for hubs also.

But I'd never have enough to serve a family, or to freeze and serve up year round. There will never be enough space and enough Hostas for that, even if I buy them every year and expand my hosta collection each year.

So I am in the difficult position of celebrating the edibility of this plant, and the digestibility of it for me, while knowing that it will never make a significant difference. It will never produce enough to be a significant food source.

And THAT is the limitation for Hosta as a culinary delicacy. This is why the knowledge of their edibility has been lost, and why they are not sold as an edible plant.

But they are worth it for me to grow, and to fix up, however much I can, those few times each year that I CAN do so.

I really LIKE Hostas!

Coddiwomple Farm is located the United States.