Archive for the ‘parsley’ 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

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.

05-10-2015 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…..

07-31-2014 Journal Entry–Herbs ‘R’ Us!   2 comments

This Summer continues and of course the garden related tasks keep right on coming.  With a break in the rainy weather I thought I should begin harvesting and drying some of the herbs from the garden.  This summer’s abundance of rain has caused the herbs to grow like never before. 

I learned a lot of what I know about herbs from my later mother who had a world class green thumb and could grow damn near anything. Herbs were no different.  Over the years I’ve collected a small library on growing herbs and their many uses both culinary and medical.  I’ve always maintained an herb garden and use them in almost every dish I prepare and eat.  I realize that many of you recognize the names of herbs but have never actually seen the growing plants.  Here’s a shot of what Oregano looks like in bloom. The blossoms are beautiful and can be used to enhance the presentation of any kind of pasta dish.

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I’ll guide you through the drying process as best I can so please don’t get too bored.  First I cut a collection of chives from a number of areas in the garden as well as an armload of Oregano for drying.

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The part of this task I dislike the most is cleaning weeds and other debris from the herbs. It’s a pain but must be done meticulously.  I do meticulously really well especially when it’s concerns something I’ll be eating.

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A quick blanching and a dip into ice water helps kill bacteria and maintain the bright green color.  A quick chopping and then it’s off to the dehydrator for drying.  Tomorrow I’ll remove it from the dryer and package the herbs in airtight containers for storage.  This should supply us with excellent flavors for our meals in those cold and nasty months of January and February.

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I’m sure that by the end of the summer I’ll complete this process at least three more times with the Tarragon, Sage, and Parsley.  The entire house smells of fresh herbs when their drying and I love that.  Someone should come up with a room freshener like that instead of the everyday run of the mill vanilla and spice.

I’ll continue this posting in a day or so with a few photos of the finished dried herbs and the veggie mix the better-half is preparing for canning later today. This pace will continue for another four weeks or until every thing is dried and canned. Then we can kick back and enjoy the late summer and Fall activities. It’s the best time of the year here in Maine with dozens of festivals being held on the weekends. We  Mainer’s do our best to make the most of the Summer and Fall  seasons because they just don’t  last very long. 

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