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Archive for the ‘weekend herb blogging’ Category

Just in time for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by the talented Pille, we celebrate the beginning of the fall and winter greens season with some heirloom lettuce and a great salad greens that is often overlooked: mustard!

The cool weather coming in is the best time for growing delicious green things for salads, sandwich layers, and garnishes. Our lettuces, which hid from the summer heat, are starting to peek out from where they self-seeded. In the meantime, we’ll plant to make up the difference!

Pictured here, on top of some Early Girl tomatoes (which are ripening late, under floating row cover), are fresh leaves of Forenschluss and Cimmaron romaines, and a crinkly red mustard leaf.

Mustard is the great “sleeper green” of the instant gourmet and adventuresome home gardener. Leaf mustard, unlike mustard grown for seed or as a cover crop, has broad leaves that range from mildly zingy to mule-kick strong. The variety I chose, sheerly for robust good looks, is Red Giant, and falls somewhere between those two extremes. I find the leaves by themselves too strong, but they layer nicely between a couple of romaine leaves in a lunchtime sandwich. The zingy pick-me-up of mustard leaves can let one skip the prepared mustard or mayo, handy for a bag lunch brought to work.

If you can grow lettuce, you can grow leaf mustard. Look for it on racks of Botanical Interests gorgeous illustrated seed packets, where Giant Southern and Giant Red are prominently displayed, as well as Mizuna, a sawtooth-leaved oriental cooking mustard green. In your local Asian market, look for “Gai Choi”. Mustards come in a gorgeous palatte of colors and textures, too. High Mowing’s Organic mustards include the stunning Purple Osaka and their striking “Hotshot” mix.

I picked up six-pack sets of lettuces and mustards at our community garden’s fall plant sale. Forenschluss, which means “Speckled Belly”, is a beautiful variegated romaine with an upright, compact habit. The bronze tones of Cimmaron go very well with Forenschluss, so I’ve planted them in alternating rows in my garden.

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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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