Saturday, October 20, 2012

Herbs: grow them, love them, preserve them, cook with them

We always used herbs--a few but not very many and we were not using many fresh ones. That was before I tried growing them in the garden. We fell in love with purple basil and when I learned to make a good pesto--sweet basil. I got cutting from friends and started more kinds of herbs. Now we were on the lookout for recipes to use sage, cilantro, thyme, and more. I have found that putting them in medium sized pots seems to keep them in control and a bit smaller than those in the ground. It has also let me rearrange them and share them more easily. Found a great website about their growing habits and so in not reinventing the wheel:

I learned how to make the plants multiply by doing cutting and rooting in water but was loosing many cuttings to rot. The last cuttings I rooted in wet sand and they all took. Now I  am trying a batch in seed starter with sand and they also seem to be doing very well. I volunteered at Johnson Farm this summer and one of the days we did mint cuttings and planted them that way. The advantage is they grow faster and true to the parent plant. It worked well on the sage, begonias, lemon basil and mints.

I have tried out several ways of putting herbs up so that we have them fresh when we want to use them. I use my Foodsaver and make  small vacuum bags then fill them with damp herbs, seal and freeze. I have also made up pesto packs with just a bit of oil so they need to have oil added to serve them. We also made parsley - garlic butter and thai basil butter. The mint kept really well in the refrigerator so it has not made it to the freezer. Now to find recipes using rosemary and more using fresh cilantro. drying and freezing herbs
We grew chamomile in the school garden last year but I have never grown it. Great for attracting bees so I need to add one and the tea is not bad either.

Heather shared a printout at our last garden guild meeting on growing herbs from A&M and brought several different herbs for members to touch and smell. We discussed and demonstrated how to take cuttings and start new plants for ourselves. Great short video on this at Propagating Herbs video on youtube.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gardener's TO-Do list for October

From Organic Living

Our zone-by-zone list will keep you busy this month.

plant a wildflower meadowZone 8
  • Plant more lettuce, Chinese cabbage, spinach, carrots, beets, peas, radishes, onions, turnips, garlic, shallots, and cress.
  • Set out strawberry plants.
  • Sow a cover crop of winter rye (Secale cereale), purple vetch (Vicia benghalensis), Austrian winter peas (Pisum arvense), or ‘Elbon' rye (Secale cereale ‘Elbon') in vacant beds.
  • Use rye clippings to add nitrogen to compost, speeding the breakdown of fall leaves.
  • In flowerbeds, plant anemones, oxalis, and ranunculus for spring bloom.
  • Also, seed annual candytuft (Iberis umbellata) in bare spots of flowerbeds for spring bloom.
  • Broadcast wildflower seeds to establish a meadow.
  • Plant trees and shrubs: Warm fall temps will help them get established before winter.
For more zones or to look at other articles: