Archive for the ‘basil’ Tag

09-01-2015 Journal–Herbs, Fish, and Gin!   Leave a comment

Goodbye August!  Now begins our downhill slide into Fall and the always unavoidable Winter.  This Summer has sped by faster than any I can even remember.

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The better-half and I spent a couple of hours yesterday canning the remaining cucumbers, jalapenos, and assorted hot peppers from the garden.  With all of the canning competed I can now start dehydrating my collection of our main cooking herbs.  It’s amazing to me just how many herbs we consume each winter.  That’ll be my main job during the coming week because we have a large supply of oregano, tarragon, mints, parsley, and thyme to choose from.

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We still have a few zucchini’s to be used along with a few kohlrabi’s and beans.  The sunflowers are now in bloom and the birds are already circling.  Those little beasts can strip a sunflower in a matter of hours once the seeds are ready to eat.

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We didn’t feel much like cooking yesterday which means an afternoon visit to Applebee’s. For a lot of years we avoided the place because the food was mediocre and over priced.  Going there now is like visiting a brand new restaurant. They’ve changed their menu to something on the order of a TGIF.  The food selection is terrific, the preparation is excellent, and the prices won’t break the bank.  It was Fish & Chips for me and Shrimp for the better-half.  I also washed it all down with a couple of extra tall Gin & Tonics.  Life is good.

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08-01-2015 Journal–A Beautiful Garden Dinner!   Leave a comment

I’m asked one question more than any other, “Why do you work so hard to have a garden?”.  It’s not a simple answer but I’ll try to explain as best I can. For me gardening gets me out of the house, allows me the freedom to work hard, sweat a little, get dirty, and remember my later father in his garden. Having a healthy and happy herb garden accomplishes the same things except it was my mother’s favorite thing to do.  She taught me almost everything I know about herbs and growing them. 

Gardening is hard work with preparing the soil, planting the plants, fighting off bugs, other critters, and dealing with good old Mother Nature.  After all of the hard work she can easily ruin your garden with one severe storm.  It helps me appreciate the good things the garden provides and this week it begins. The plants are producing and the harvesting can begin albeit in a limited amount.

The cherry tomatoes are beginning to ripen and we’ll be enjoying hundreds of them over the next couple of months.

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Eating healthier has been our mantra for the last few years and the garden makes that so much easier to do.  Tonight’s dinner will be supplied totally by the garden except for the chicken breasts.  I just harvested this kohlrabi which is the size of a large softball.  Many people aren’t familiar with  them but they are similar in taste and texture to a radish.

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This was was peeled and diced and set aside.  It was firm and tender and I was forced to eat some immediately with a little salt. The following items along with the diced kohlrabi were used to prepare a delicious collection of flavors, wrapped in aluminum foil, and slowly warmed over the grill while the chicken breasts were cooking.

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Fresh Chives & Parsley

Fresh Green & Purple Basil

Diced Kohlrabi

Cherry Tomatoes

Fresh Pea  Pods

Radishes

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The finished product was plated and served on the deck with a pretty decent Chardonnay.  This is the type of meal we eat for most of the Summer and Fall.  Our hard work gives us fresh food, delicious, organic,  and priced just right.

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As the production increases the meals will become even more interesting.  We’ve started canning and freezing a number of items for use this Winter already, with more to come.

The saddest thing about having a garden is to see it end every Fall.  You can be sure our freezers will be filled, our herbs dried, and our pantry shelves filled with new canned goods. We’ll be eating healthy all Winter.

05-24-2015 Journal– Garden Progress!   Leave a comment

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The final plants are being planted and within a week the garden will be left to grow and bloom on it’s own.  It may require fertilizer one more time in mid-summer and steady watering but the hard work is mostly over for me.  I’ll be back at it sometime in October for the final harvesting, cleanup, and soil preparation for next year.

Even though we had a frost scare the other night the plants are doing fine.  A few of them were nipped by the cold but should survive without a problem. Feeling a little motivated this morning I was in the garden early to do some final plantings.  It was another chilly night last night and the winds haven’t lessened in the least.

The better-half recently purchased a spaghetti squash plant and I planted it today. We love spaghetti squash but have had no luck growing our own. Maybe this year will be different. 

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I decided to plant another basil because our original plantings look terrible. They may ultimately recover but I thought another large plant should be planted just in case.  If they all take off like I hope they will, we’ll have more than enough to dry and store this Fall.

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I planted another dozen marigolds around the perimeter of the garden which will hopefully keep those annoying critters away.  It’s a win/win because they also add a nice touch of color to the garden.

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We’re also trying to grow leeks for the first time.  I don’t anticipate them growing too large due to our short growing season. We’ll probably be eating them half-grown like scallions for use in soups or salads.  I may even be able to freeze some for our winter meals.  I’m crossing my fingers on this one because I love the flavor of leeks.

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So we have another garden almost completed and the waiting can then begin.  Barring any unforeseen catastrophes we should have great results in the Fall.

05-10-2015 Journal–Herbs, Herbs & More Herbs!   Leave a comment

The excellent weather will be ending tonight if the forecasters are accurate so I’ve been scrambling to get a few things done before the rains arrive.  The second wave of plantings were finished yesterday.  I spent some time removing a few dead plants from the herb garden and then replanted twelve others.  I put in extra parsley and basil plants and after drying in the Fall we should have enough to last the winter.

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‘Lots of Oregano’

I replanted all of my Sage plants because for some unknown reason they all died.  I hate losing plants that I’ve had for years but there isn’t much I can do about it.  I really thought the heavy snow cover for most of last winter would’ve helped keep them healthy and happy.  As usual it appears the apple-mint, spearmint, peppermint, catnip, and oregano will be huge.  In just the last few weeks those plants have grown four inches and are spreading everywhere.

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‘More Basil’

The new mower arrived last evening and I spent this morning going over all of the equipment and controls.  I finally fired it up and spent an hour learning to operate the machine. It’s much smaller than my last tractor but it cuts very well and is easy to steer around the many obstacles on the property.  Next week I’ll pass the older tractor over to my step daughter’s husband. They should with a little TLC be able to use it for a few more years and possibly even longer.

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‘We Always Need Rosemary’

Next week with the better-half out of town I’ll begin purchasing the next batch of plants and place them into the cold frames.  Cherry tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, cucumbers, and pea pods lead the list.  Just after Memorial Day I’ll get everything else planted as quickly as possible. Then it’ll be time to retire to the deck to relax and watch things grow for a month or two.

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‘There Are Chives Everywhere’

I’ll  stock up on some good brandy and a case of Chardonnay and that’ll be my contribution in helping Mother Nature in getting my garden to flourish. 

The sunshine and deck beckon.

10-05-2014 Journal Entry-Garden & Yard Work!   Leave a comment

With the weather slowly but surely changing from Fall to Winter the final work to harvest the last of the herbs and to compost the garden needed to be done. My better-half had the day off and we both knew we had a few hours of hard work ahead of us. It was the last of our major tasks for the Fall.

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It was hard labor for a while as we shoveled compost into our small trailer and delivered it to the garden.  Not only does the compost reenergize the soil but it also helps to refill the frames with much needed soil.

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We filled the trailer three times which allowed us to cover the entire garden with approximately three inches of compost.  We took special precautions with the rhubarb and asparagus because they require additional protection from the coming snow and cold weather.

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In a day or so I’ll add some lime to the compost as well as a general fertilizer.  Then I’ll rototill  the entire mixture thoroughly and let it sit until Spring.

I wanted to dry and store more herbs but a surprise hard frost last week killed off ninety percent of my basil plants. Fortunately I harvested some of the plants before the frost but it still irritates me to see any of them go to waste.  Mother Nature always seems to get her fair share of things whether we like it or now.

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It’s difficult here in Maine for cold-sensitive plants to survive the winter but I’ll never stop trying to find a way.  Instead of harvesting all of the Rosemary and Parsley I decided to compost the plants heavily and then later in the season cover them with a thick layer of leaves.  I’m hoping that for once I can have a Rosemary plant that survives the Winter and is able to get larger and stronger each year. Probably just wishful thinking but we shall see. 

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‘Harvested, Cleaned’

Only about fifty percent of this parsley was harvested  in the hopes that it would retain enough energy to regrow in the Spring.  I cleaned and washed the parsley, removed the stems, and placed everything into the dehydrator.  In four hours it will be dry enough to crush and place into air tight jar for later use.

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‘And Dried’

Our harvested black beans have also been dried and stored. There seems to be more than enough for a few good meals.  It was our first year growing them and we haven’t decided whether to plant them again next year.

Once all of the days labor was completed we sat down to relax, have a drink, and discuss possible improvements and repairs of the garden for next year. One of the most interesting possibilities is the construction of a much larger cold frame that will be eight feet long and two feet wide.  This would allow us to grow a variety of lettuces and radishes well into late October and even early November. Anything we can do to extend the growing season is well worth the effort.

We’re almost ready for that damn snow.  Bring it on…..

05-16-2013   2 comments

After today I came to truly understand why I’d never have made a very good farmer.  It’s one of the hardest working careers someone could possibly pursue. I was advised by my nursery owning friend that the final fear of frost had finally passed and now I’m free to begin planting my garden.  I’ve been waiting patiently for this day for weeks which should explain just how stupid I can be.

While my garden is not a full fledged farm, it still requires a great deal of work and attention to be successful. My preparations for this summers garden started last Fall when I composted the entire garden.  It’s continued until today with making the decisions on what will be grown, how much to plant, where to plant, and when to plant.  I purchased the majority of the plants early but it was too cold to plant them.  I’ve had them stored in a cold frame for almost two weeks until the fear of frost had passed.

I started my day today by planting kale, spinach, beets, kohlrabi, and a selection of new herbs.  For the second year I’ve been forced to replace a number of herb plants that didn’t survive the winter.  It’s frustrating as hell but it’s something I’ve learned to live with.  I added thyme, lime basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, and curry to the already existing plants.  The herb garden is now complete for this year and I hope I can harvest enough this Fall to get us through next winter.

After having a quick lunch I began planting the remaining plants I’ve been nursing along for all these weeks.  I planted my zucchini, yellow squash, and pickling cucumbers.  A few years ago I picked up a tip from an old gardener on how to grow these types of plants.  He explained that when planting just place a partially crushed hard boiled egg a few inches beneath each plant to provide extra nourishment during the early growth weeks.  I tried it for the first time last year with excellent results.  I grew a number of plants with eggs and an equal number and type without.  There was a marked difference in the size of the plants with eggs as well as the amount of squash, cucumbers, and zucchini s they produced.

After completing the planting I watered everything by hand to help them get established.  I then hooked up the sprinkler system and tested it.  As always problems arise at the worst times.  One of the sprinkler sections refused to work requiring another hour of my time to repair it.  One last job was to de-slug the garden.  Our worst problem here are slugs that can be really destructive if not properly controlled.  I spread a sufficient amount of pellets around each plant to begin the battle for this year.  I’ll be forced to do this at least three more times this growing season to keep those damn slugs under control.

Water every day, try to chase away the deer, rabbits, and other creatures at night and maybe the garden will be a success.  Expect the worst and hope for the best.  I couldn’t even begin to understand how farmers with hundreds of acres ever get all of their work done but I’m glad they do.

Hopefully after today I can sit on my deck for a few months and watch everything grow.  Then it will be time to harvest all the goodies and prepare the garden for next year. 

04-28-2013   Leave a comment

I think I’ve survived my bout with the flu and it appears the worst is over. My ribs are still killing me from all the coughing but that will pass in a few days. What I need most right now is to get up and out of the house to enjoy the beautiful weather that’s expected for the next few days. The good weather and a little yard work will be just the thing to get me moving again in the right direction.  It’s time to change clothes and begin my Spring in a proper fashion.

My better-half is already out and about and doing her gardening thing and she’s awaiting my arrival.  The herb garden is in grim shape so that’s where I’ll start.  It appears that due to the heavy snow cover this winter most of the plants survived and are beginning to poke through the ground already.  I’ll just need to replant the basil and parsley which are annuals and a couple of thymes that didn’t make it.  That to me is a good winter result. In almost every winter since moving to Maine I’ve found it necessary to replace on average of eight to ten plants.

The neighbor’s outdoor cat should be really happy too. The catnip is already two inches high and there are a bunch of tiny little footprints already in the area from his nightly visits.  That dumb cat loves getting stoned on that catnip.

I’ve just about given up on growing thyme and I’m really tired of replanting and replanting with nothing to show for it.  We use a lot of herbs in our cooking which requires harvesting and drying them each Fall for storage.  I try to harvest only thirty percent of any plant because any more than that will kill them. The  thyme seems to be so delicate that if I harvest any of the plant at all it doesn’t  survive the winter.  I could try a large number of plants and take just a little from each but we don’t use enough thyme in our dishes to justify that.

It’s noon already and I’ve cleaned at least eight bushels of dead plant material from the garden.  Things are looking good here but we have a few more things that require our attention as well.  My better-half loves lilac plants so last year I purchased her two as a birthday gift and we planted them along the side of the house.  They made it through the winter and appear very healthy.  Unfortunately the amount of sun they get in that location could be better.  After some discussion yesterday we’ve decided they need to be transplanted elsewhere.

My better-half spent her morning creating a new flower bed in front of the house that receives more than eight hours of full sun each day.  We just finished transplanting the lilacs to their new home and I expect them to easily double in size by the end of the summer.  Once they start blooming that wonderful scent will make sitting on the deck a lot more enjoyable.

We just finished cleaning up the remainder of the debris from the backyard. It’s surrounded on three sides by woods and believe it or not trees make one hell of a mess.  More goodies for the compost pile which is beginning to look more like a compost mountain.  Thank God I use a lot of it each Fall to re-energize the gardens but it really does pile up quickly.

It’s early in the year but all of my better-half’s efforts from last summer are beginning to pay off.  She has daffodils, tulips, and many others flowers already in bloom and the front of the house looks fantastic.  It’s time for us both to put the tools away and call it a day.  These kind of days are always hard work but it’s well worth it.  It’s always been a great way for us both to clear our heads, forget about all of the everyday nonsense, and just dig in the dirt for a while.  It’s a great stress reliever and way cheaper than therapy.