Parsley and Sage

Historically herbs have been used not only to add flavor to food but also to preserve and for medicinal purposes. Another passion of mine is the use of herbs. I have started to research the use of herbs for digestion and anxiety and cold and flu. I struggled this summer to find herb plants to purchase locally for my garden so for next summer I will either grow the plants I want from seed myself or buy them organically online from a reputable grower.

We had a fantastic year in our herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow plus animals leave them alone and they are virtually unaffected by insects.

Last week I cut a huge amount of parsley, sage and celery from the garden. I don’t really consider celery an herb but this variety produces more leaves than stalk so I dry and grind the leaves into a powder and use the powder to flavor all kinds of dishes including soups.

Take a look at my 6 foot island covered in what I cut. Keep in mind the amount of sage I cut was from one single plant and the celery and parsley were from only 6 plants. Wow huh?!

20161101_154120

It took me several hours to carefully look all the leaves over and remove them from the stems and clean them. About 6 hours in fact. But I enjoyed watching “Hot in Cleveland” on my phone while I picked.

20161103_20275920161103_205117

After the drying process in my dehydrators I ran all of the dried leaves through my mini chopper and got an entire quart of parsley and more than a pint of sage. I still haven’t finished the celery.

20161113_183108

I know you’re thinking I could have purchased dried parsley and sage from the grocery store and saved myself a lot of time and they wouldn’t have cost that much. Yep I could have. However those herbs wouldn’t be as fresh and Lord knows where those herbs are grown or under what conditions. I don’t mind the work. I enjoy it and other than the initial cost of a few bucks they are free. Also keep in mind I have been cutting the herbs all Spring, Summer and Fall and the sage is a perennial and the parsley reseeds itself. It’s definitely the gifts that keeps on giving.

For me this is “Old Ways meets New Ways” because I produced my own herbs (old) and entertained myself watching “Hot in Cleveland” (new). I love Betty White.

Do you preserve your own herbs?

-MM

 

Turning a Weed Patch into a Usable Garden

The area behind my garage has always given me problems. Years ago when my grandparents had my home they used the space behind the garage for a sunken garden which had blueberry plants and many other things in it through the years. By the time I bought the house the area was a mess from years of neglect and there was nothing growing in it other than giant weeds.

About a year into us owning the house we rented a small backhoe and dug out the “pit of despair” which I liked to call it and filled it in with a couple of loads of top soil. However, even after filling it in, it would still give me problems.

It is a fairly large space which was wonderful for growing tomatoes and squash and such but sometimes the chore of weeding would get away from me and again it would look unkempt.

This year I vowed to make the space usable and easy to maintain. Here is what I started with.

garage1

Again, the space started the year out as weedy and any nutrients left from the original load of top soil were gone.

I first lined the entire area with cardboard boxes that I opened and placed flat on the ground (working at a grocery store has its advantages). Then I recycled the rails from an old split rail fence that I had laying around and used them for the frames of the garden beds.

garage2

I made sure when I was constructing it that I left room for a wide sawdust lined pathway. My dad is a woodworker so I have unlimited use of his sawdust bin.

So far at this point the new garden bed area has cost me absolutely nothing except hard work.

garage4

I filled the two long beds with soil and in the back I planted various herbs which included, parsley, sage, lemon balm and lavender. In the front I planted the whole thing with close to 100 onion plants. Done.garage3

I am excited to see how the plants grow in the beds! As the season progresses I will post updates. -MM