Archive for the ‘herbs’ Category

What better way to welcome in Weekend Herb Blogging than with fresh herbs?

Time to cut down the overgrown variegated sage, which likes to crowd out everything else, and nudge the variegated oregano back as well. Also snipped some of the big fuzzy spicy oregano. I thnk I’ll have more than enough rubbed sage when I get done (MORE than enough!) but I can always package some up for gifts. I’d like to get another Biergarten (Beer Garden) sage, the oversized leaves were nice to fry crisp in a little olive oil and use as a tasty and stylish garnish. The same can be done with the variegated, but the lighter color leaves tend to look too brown to me and not as attractive. The flavor is more subtle, too.

Believe it or not, with the vast and spreading lavendar bush in the backyard, I actually hadn’t considered cutting lavendar. I’d bought some dried in bulk a couple of years ago, and hadn’t used it up. However, lately I’ve noticed that some things aren’t setting fruit the way they should. I’ve started using some foliar feeding, which may help, but I really think the problem is the lavender. Between that, and all the borage over there, it’s like having one of those chocolate fountains at a party. Who’s going to make it all the way over to the healthy veggies tray? Only the really dedicated!

So trimming the amount of lavender down to where at least SOME of the bees decide to check out the other end of the garden is a good idea. I’m also letting marjoram, cilantro, and a couple of lettuces to go flower at the far end of the garden, and have transplanted at least one borage seedling. Need something special over there to distract the pollinators from the endless lavender party! Normally I’d try to choose stalks that were primarily buds, with few open flowers, as those will retain their scent longer. In this case, I was fairly indiscriminate.

One thing that’s great to do with lavender is to make sachets for drawers and sheets. The easiest way is with the little gauzy bags sold at craft stores for wedding favors, but one can also use squares of tulle. Bind several stalks with ribbon, trim the stems so they look neat, and put the bag over the flower heads. If you’re folding a square of tulle over, just tie it with ribbon. Wind some ribbon around the stems in a complementary color, and tie it off in a double bow. When we were on sabbatical in the motorhome a few years ago, I did white tulle and blue ribbon and hung them in our bedroom from the white and blue curtains, and got a lot of compliments.

You can also get some plain muslin drawstring bags, or sew tulle pockets, and put lavender buds or flower heads inside and use them in the dryer. I like to add a sprinkle of Mexican cinnamon chunks, or broken cinnamon stick. The resulting scent is wonderful– fresh and spicy but not cloying. Highly recommended!

If you’re really gung-ho, you can weave lavender wands. Some great instructions, with pictures are available at Garden Gate Magazine and at Dharma Trading. It looks more complicated than it is, I’ve done it and you can too!


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My garden and a book project have been keeping me way too busy, but the book project is finally put to bed and I am going to give myself a mini-vacation for a week or three! I celebrated by going out this morning while it was still cool, but not damp, and snipping a big basket of herbs to dry. They looked so good that I thought, hey, I should send this to Weekend Herb Blogging! From left to right, marjoram, variegated sage, greek oregano (spicy!), and variegated oregano. A couple of young garlic that I pulled as well are laying across the basket.

The herbs I will separate and dry on a plate, indoors on the bookshelf or armoir top, out of any direct sun. The young garlic I snipped up like scallions or chives, and put in the freezer. I don’t pre-wash it, so it freezes up nicely without ice all over it. Put it in soups, stews, or drop in a roasting pan with veggie end-snips (which I also freeze), spray with oil, and pan-roast as the base for a rich veggie stock.

I don’t pre-wash most veggies, since I don’t use any sprays or pesticides in my garden, other than point-treating any stubborn aphids with Safer Soap. This year, knock on wood, no real aphid problems other than some Gray Plague in my broccoli when it got too hot for a week, and I took the floating row cover off (doh). I’ve been letting various weeds stand as attractants to the aphids, and sure enough, the ‘phids go there instead of on my tender beans and peas, at least so far. When they have frighteningly infested the attractant weeds, I carefully snip those off and get them the heck out of the garden (carefully! so none will fall off!). Seems to be working so far.

Oh, my usual Garden Help does not care for garlic, but was coaxed into happiness with a treat and a kind word. Here is her little smiling face for all my fellow kitteh lovers out there. 🙂

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