Archive for the ‘herbs’ Tag

08-22-2016 Journal – Herbs!   Leave a comment

With the Summer more than half over our garden time is more about canning, drying, and storing the results of our efforts than anything else.  I’ve been asked in the past how I can get so much production from such a small garden. There’s really no simple answer. An old adage immediately comes to mind: “Plan the work, then work the plan.”  Test your soil and keep it fresh, season to season, with compost. Plant your plants near compatible plants.  Pull the weeds and kill the bugs. Easy peasy!

The following picture was taken this morning of my small herb garden. The total square footage is 60 ft. which isn’t all that much.  I’ve noted the herbs planted there and while they are jammed tightly into the small space they are flourishing.

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This small patch has been supplying us with fresh and dried herbs for more than seven years and will hopefully continue to do so.  We’ve had so much luck with our herbs growing that next year we’re converting another 100 square feet of garden space for a much larger herb selection. This little patch will continue as is but the new area will be loaded with every herb I can find that we can dry and store. With a larger and more diverse collection I can begin harvesting herbs to create my own mixes for picking, canning, home brewing, and cooking.

Growing more herbs has a number of advantages over vegetables because none of Mother Nature’s little critters seem to like the herbs. That doesn’t include neighborhood felines who find fresh catnip rather interesting. That will allow me to remove some of the fencing I have in place and eliminate my current problems of ripping my clothing on the fence  or constantly falling on my butt trying to climb over it.  My better-half claims that I’m the clumsiest person on the planet but I dispute that.  I’m just unlucky is all.

I will try to post as usual but our upcoming vacation may make it difficult. I’ll attempt to post from New Orleans if I can but after all it is a vacation. I’ll have plenty to post about upon our return.

ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER

07-31-2016 Journal – The Garden Jungle!   Leave a comment

It’s the last of July already. It’s a little hard to believe that summer is more than half over.  This dry spell we’ve been having for the last month is a minor annoyance but without nightly watering the garden will be burnt out.  That little bit of water accomplishes miracles as you will see in the following pictures.

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These Mammoth sunflowers will eventually reach 8 or 9 feet tall.

The sunflowers will be absolutely shredded by the hundreds of birds we feed regularly.  They wait all summer for the sunflowers to go to seed and then it’s a bird free-for-all.   This large bushy clump of plants in the next photo is, believe it or not, asparagus. The plants must be left alone for three years until they are firmly established before we can start harvesting the spears. Next Spring we’ll finally get to eat some delicious home-grown asparagus.

 

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Sautéed in butter . . . there’s nothing better.

These last three photo are just  general photos of the entire garden in three sections.  As you can see in this first one the herbs are plentiful and I’ll be drying them steadily starting in about four weeks.

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This next photo is one of the large frames. This will be the last year we grow veggies here. Starting next Spring it will be converted to nothing but herbs.

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This final photo is a large frame filled with cherry tomatoes, green beans, rhubarb, asparagus, and a selection of hot peppers.  The jalapeños are thriving this year.

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That’s the update for the month of July. Here’s one last photo in my continuing war with the yellow-jackets, This nest was found under our deck after both of us had been stung as we walked by.  I won this battle but the war will continue.

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There you have it. Another month gone so quickly.  I can almost smell Winter and the snow that will follow.

07-25-2016 Journal – Summer Gardening!   Leave a comment

We’re in the heat of the summer and the garden is flourishing.  Even though the amount of rain has been a little less than expected the nightly watering is paying off.  We don’t water too much each day, just enough to keep the plants from wilting.  It seems to be paying off big-time.

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The sunflowers are already 4 feet tall.

As you can see the garden looks healthy and green.  Even the pepper plants I was so worried about a few weeks ago have recovered and are producing what appears to be a record number of peppers.  These hot days and night are exactly what they needed.

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These jalapenos will help make some delicious salsa.

My better-half has already made a number of loaves of zucchini bread and I’m anticipating a lot more in our future.  The zucchini plants as of this morning have an additional fifteen zucchini’s ready for use in breads and stir-fry’s.

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This big fat one will be on the dinner table tonight.

If the rest of the summer goes as planned we’ll be celebrating one of the best gardens in recent years.  In another week or so I’ll get really serious about drying and storing many of the herbs we’ve grown.  We should easily be able to have enough on-hand for the entire winter and then some.

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It’s time for me to get to work in the garden for an hour or so.  Even with fabric laid down to eliminate weeds they still manage to grow in every little crack and crevice.  It’s annoying but they must be removed as quickly as possible because they steal a lot of the nutrients needed by the vegetables and herbs.

WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THAT

 

07-21-2016 Garden Issues!   Leave a comment

The garden is once again fast becoming my top priority. As usual at this time of the season the herbs are out of control. I spent some time this week pruning the oregano and catnip for later drying.  I did a general cleanup of the dehydrator in anticipation of a heavy work load this summer.

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It holds a great deal of material as you can see.  This week I filled it with diced jalapeños, cayenne’s, and two pounds of habaneros.  After six hours the peppers were ready for grinding. Unfortunately my reliable old grinder failed to work and I was forced to make a quick trip to Walmart to purchase another.  The peppers were ground into a fine powder and stored for future uses.

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Hot, Hotter, and Hottest

Then it was back to trimming and photographing some of the newly blooming day lilies.  These pictures are of the early bloomers with more colors and variants expected within a few weeks. I love these colors.

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It was a garden and yard work day all around.  I spent some time paying attention to my compost area. I needed to wet down the piles and add a compost accelerator. I’ll be needing as much of it as I can get to add to the garden this Fall.

The better-half and I also began the process of redesigning the garden for next Spring. We’ve decided to discontinue growing vegetables in one of the large frames and to devote it entirely to growing culinary herbs.  It’ll be something of challenge placing the correct herbs near others that are compatible. We’ll also be placing herbs in the vegetable frames to keep out assorted pests and varmints that the herbs do naturally. Hopefully we’ll be able to agree on the final design of the garden before Spring arrives and the purchasing and planting our selection of herbs begins.

IT SHOULD BE GREAT FUN

 

 

 

 

06-27-2016 Journal – Garden Update!   Leave a comment

With the month of June running out I thought I’d get one last garden update  posted. Warmer weather has certainly caused the garden to go crazy. The plants are growing approximately 2 to 3 inches a week or more and it’s still early in the season. Here are a number of pictures from the garden to show the results of our TLC and nightly watering. It’s been a rather dry beginning to the growing season and the watering is the only thing that will keep this garden plush.

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‘The herbs are going crazy.’

 

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‘Looking forward to many zucchini’s.’

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‘The tomatoes are blooming.’

 

Yesterday my better-half and I spent her day off relaxing and doing yard work. We harvested some lettuce and garlic chives to add to our evening meal. We decided that since the weather was so nice we’d be eating on the deck. Here is a picture of our table.

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I grilled a number of boneless chicken thighs dusted with rosemary and a basting of ghost pepper sauce.  Just before serving I brushed on a light coating of diluted yellow mustard.  Crispy, flavorful, and hot.  My favorite three things. Add a side dish of our homemade Bread and Butter pickles and things improve even more. The ice cold Chardonnay topped off the meal perfectly.

This was the first of many meals of this kind this summer. As the garden begins to produce more items our future meals  will be even better.

GARDEN FOOD IS THE BEST

06-21-2016 Journal – June Garden Update!   Leave a comment

It appears that summer is finally decided to arrive. We having much warmer weather during the day and at night and it shows. The garden has really taken off in the last week and things are looking up except for the ghost peppers which aren’t doing well at all. They seem to need hot days and hot nights with a lot of sun to flourish and they’re certainly not finding that here in Maine.  I don’t expect much production from the ghost peppers this year and I’ve pretty much decided to try them one more time next year but in a different way. I intend to plant them either in a cold framework or I’ll build a small greenhouse to try and keep the temperature is high as possible for as long as possible. If that doesn’t work then I’ll give up on ghost peppers entirely and just buy them online. Here are a few shots of the garden taken this morning.

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 The better-half’s flower gardens are also in bloom almost everywhere on the property. This could possibly  be the best year we’ve ever had with a diversity of colors that is amazing.

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We also had a special occasion last night. We harvested the first of the lettuces for this year and they were a perfect addition to our evening meal.

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That’s all for today.  I’m having serious computer issues that need fixing and I hope I’m successful. Microsoft is making my life miserable once again and as usual they’re not much help.

06-09-2016 Journal–June Garden Update!   Leave a comment

Even though June has barely started I thought an garden update was in order. The warmer weather for the last few weeks has brought everything to life in a big way.  Due to the efforts of my better-half we have flowers blooming everywhere.

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The gardens in the yard are filled with irises as you can see. we’ve planted them every where and this is the first year we get to see them in all their glory.

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Just three years ago this rhododendron was one foot tall and looking poorly. We transplanted it to this spot and here is the results of our efforts.

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One of the better-half’s passions is to have as much color in as many places as possible.  That of course includes the deck.  We get to walk through all of these flowers on our way to the table to have our morning coffee. How great is that?

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It’s things like this that help us Mainers wipe away memories of sleet, ice,  snow, and our six month’s of winter.  It’s worth waiting for. Here’s my recent photo of the vegetable and herb garden as compared with one taken in May.  The changes as we move forward will become more and more obvious.

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‘May’

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‘June’

05-12-2016 Journal – Garden Aches & Pains!   4 comments

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I hate missing a scheduled posting but it happened this week for the first time in almost a year. The weather turned bright, sunny, and beautiful and I got swept away with garden preparations and grass cutting. By the time I was finished it was much too late in the day to sit down and post something.  I’ve been waiting five long months for these first spring days and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

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Along with all that enjoyment came the inevitable aches and pains.  The morning-after reminded me just how many muscles I have in places I’d forgotten about . . . and they weren’t happy. Oh so sore.

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My better-half and I spent some time and money this week visiting a number of local nurseries and were able to purchase almost everything we needed for the initial plantings.  We  bought, cucumbers, zucchini’s, various hot pepper plants, pea pods, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and even some early kale plants. Add to that a few dozen marigolds for a little color and we’re ready to start planting next week. We also picked up quite an assortment of herbs to replace plants lost over the winter and a number of new ones as well.

I even got a little carried away and started transplanting a few things from the flower garden to a more prominent position near the driveway.  It was a backbreaker trying to get this bush moved but it appears to have survived the trauma and is doing well.

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‘Before’

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‘After’

We’ve filled our cold frames with plants and they’ll remain there until I’m sure the weather will remain warmer and no frost in the forecasts. Regardless everything should be planted on or about Memorial Day.  Then it’ll be time to relax and let Mother Nature do what she does best.

These few photos are the first of many I’ll be posting this summer. We should have a really productive garden which will hopefully fill our pantry shelves for next winter.

I NEED TO ORDER MORE BEN-GAY!

05-08-2016 Journal–1st Garden Plantings   Leave a comment

Even though the nights remain cool it would appear that Mother Nature is beginning to cooperate.  The hard frosts have stopped and the temperatures have been well above freezing at night.  It’s time to get busy planting a few items that aren’t effected as much by the cooler temperatures. As you can see here the rhubarb could care less about the weather. It’s up and going strong.

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With that in mind I purchased two more small rhubarb plants to fill in the frame a little. You just can’t have enough rhubarb because regardless of what you use it for . . . it’s delicious.

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The herb garden is coming along nicely but I lost a few plants over the winter. I’m not sure why but two of them had been around for years and I hated to see them go.  Nothing I can do but replace them.

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These items were planted next. Three parsley plants, three lavenders, and two spinach.

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As you look at the photo’s you can see chives growing damn near everywhere. Regardless of the weather you can’t seem to slow them down much. We’ll have bushels to harvest once again this year.

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It just felt so good to be digging around in the dirt for a few minutes. Next week I’ll be heading to our local nursery to pick up some lettuces and any thing else that catches my eye. I try to be guided by what the nurseryman advises when it comes to early plantings.  I’ve paid a serious price in years past by not listening to him.  The hot peppers and tomatoes will have to wait a few more weeks when the danger of frost is completely gone.

THE FUN HAS BEGUN

10-11-2015 Journal–Winter Prep Continues!   Leave a comment

The weather has finally turned and Fall is here. The nights are consistently in the low forties requiring that we permanently turn on the heat for the Winter. Over the last two weeks I’ve been slowly bringing out my winter clothing and packing away the sandals, shorts, and beachwear.  I actually look forward to Fall and the cooler temperatures even though the snow comes along with it.

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‘Any good soup requires fresh veggies.’

As the garden and yard work are coming to an end it’s time to look over my Winter inventories.  I’ve picked up a good supply of books and other reading material over the last two months which should carry me well into 2016. Add to that the Kindle books I intend to purchase and I’m good to go.

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Everything that could be harvested from the garden has been canned, frozen, and dried.  The garden will be officially over in three more days and I can put it out of my mind for a few months. My last cooking chore for Winter preparation was the making of a batch of my chicken and rice soup. This recipe I picked up from an old Korean women in 1968 and it’s remained one of my all-time favorites ever since.

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‘Looks bad, tastes wonderful.’

It’s not terribly difficult to make and each batch is usually good for ten to twenty large bowls that can be frozen and used for months without any ill effects.  Basically you take a large whole chicken and drop it into a gallon of salted water, bring it to a boil, cover it, and cook it until the chicken falls completely apart.  Add your favorite spices and herbs as well to really get the flavor of the meat to a high level and cook it for a few additional minutes.

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‘Even better than pulled pork.’

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Fish out all the bones and cartilage, remove the chicken and shred it, and immediately return it in the pot.  Add onions, carrots, leeks, or any other veggies you desire.  Last but not least add two cups of either rice or barley.  I prefer the barley flavor but as a compromise with my better-half this batch will contain rice.

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‘The final product.’

This is comfort food of the first order and is always good for what ails ya. With all of the soups, chili, salsas, and breads stored away we can now sit back and enjoy the Winter (except for the snow of course).