Gardening in the Blind


New plant additions
May 26, 2012, 7:30 am
Filed under: Herbs

It is always exciting when I get new herbs to grow. I seem to be attracted to the wort family. They spread a lot though. So I have soapwort and had motherwort until Deron pulled it out because it “looked like a weed”. But now I have liverwort. Very pretty and will grow up with my horseradish in the wooded area. I wonder what wort I will get next year…
Planted in my lower tier by my deck is Eucalyptus. Wonder fragrance and the ability to clean the air around it. It is just wonderful to pick and hang in your shower.
The best ice tea and sorbet, I had to try my hand at lemon verbena this year. I have tried it in the past with little luck. Let’s hope this year is different.  Heck maybe I will even try my hand at making jelly with it if it grows.



Surprise Plants
May 13, 2012, 5:23 pm
Filed under: Garden Planning, Herbs, outdoor gardening

Winter was mild.  Well that is a understatment.  It was bitter-sweet to find some of my plants that were not supposed to survive the winter growing back.  The first I found was tarragon.  This is true tarragon for all the skeptics out there.  It has not only come back, but more than doubled in size.  The picture shows one of three clumps I have growing.  The funny part about this is that I have a 6 pack of tarragon that I planted thinking I would need more.  So, this year I will not be short tarragon at all.  Matter of fact, if you have any delicious recipes that use this herb, please be kind enough to share with me.  I see a lot in my future.  Deron is in charge of finding some recipes to use tarragon, chives and the next unexpected plant growing in my garden….

Lovage is growing wild in one of my beds.  What started out as a cute little plant is now about 30-36″ high.  Again, I have one Lovage plant that I started as this plant was not supposed to over winter.  But it did with a vengeance!  I can’t even give my plant away that I started.  No one is interested as they have never heard of it.  I share a leaf or two with them so that they can see it tastes like celery, but they are put off by the texture.  Not sure why, it has the same texture as parsley and plenty of people eat that!  Nonetheless, Deron and I will find many different ways to use it besides soups.

Lastly, I am just happy as pie to see that the lavender that I planted down at the street survived not only the winter, but the repaving of our roads and sidewalks.  Really nice surprise!  I can’t wait for it to flower and have lavender in the house!



Snow is here
November 2, 2011, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Herbs, local eating, Uncategorized

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It has been trying to get all the fall chores done.  I have found it to be overly challenging this year.  So when word came of a bad storm to hit, I panicked.  I knew the rain would start in the afternoon, then changing to snow.  So in true Robin fashion, I waited until that day, woke up early, skipped my boot camp and frantically started dumping out all the containers, cleaning the beds, and most importantly – harvesting everything I could salvage before the snow hit.  It was cold and wet, but with the help from my husband in the morning, we were able to get it all done with only a little of “playing” in the snow to get the garden hoses in the garage as well as patio furniture.  But at lass, I was not completely done.  I had to deal with all I harvested when the outside was done.

I first started with the 45 leeks that I pulled from the dirt.  I cut the excess leaves off, cleaned them up and packaged them in groups, freezing for future use.  I kept a few out to roast sometime during the week as they are one of my favorite.  Next I moved on to the carrots.  I didn’t have many left and I divided them up between dogs and chickens.  The animals were overly excited about it.  Then came the loads of herbs I pulled.  I knew that the parsley and lovage would not last that long, so I started with them in the dehydrator.  I figured it would be good as it generates heat for the downstairs as well.  Great idea, except we loss power around 4 am.  It was enough to dry the herbs, but not heat any downstairs. 

I have never fully understood my dependency on electricity, until it was gone.  I started to panic thinking about the thousands of dollars of beef and chicken in the freezers downstairs.  I had just got off the phone with my mother in law a couple of days before when she mentioned that I needed to look into insuring the meat through my home owners insurance.  Her timing could not have been better.  Mine was not as I didn’t even look into it yet.  But as the time progressed, my husband was getting more irritable and I realized that I needed to do something.  I went with my neighbor to a different town and found a dollar store to purchase a sponge for dishes and some candles.  Wouldn’t you know just as I was paying for the items, my husband called to say the power was back on.  The meat was safe for this time at least.

So, I was able to continue with the dehydration of herbs, make kale stir-fry and kale chips, and use some hot peppers in dinner.  Everything has a happy ending, except the tree branches that didn’t make it…But then again what is a little more clean-up??



Trying something new with herbs
September 6, 2011, 8:37 am
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Herbs

It has been a bumper crop for my herbs this year.  I have dried them in the dehydrator and window, I have cooked with them, I have just ate them, heck I have even fed them to the chickens.  So I decided to try something new.  I am trying my hand at flavored vinegar.  Deron and I eat a  lot of salads.  We make a lot of homemade dressings.  I thought it might be good to have some flavored vinegar that we could just add some olive oil to and whisk.  Here is hoping it is used a lot!

Jars of flavor awaiting vinegar

It is very easy to make the vinegar.  The best part is that you can put whatever you want in it.  I made  most as a combination of whatever I had on hand at the moment. 

Take vinegar (white or cider) and bring to a boil for two minutes and then allow to cool to about 104 degrees F.  Put the herbs in the containers that you wish to use, I just put it in canning jars as that is what I had handy.  Pour the vinegar over it and seal.  Place it in a cool dark place.  It should be ready in about three weeks, but should keep for about 2 years.  Easy, inexpensive gift for the holidays that looks like you spent far more time on it then you really did.



More Herbs in flower
July 27, 2011, 9:42 pm
Filed under: bees, Herbs, outdoor gardening

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Just to continue with the beautiful flowers my herbs are displaying, I thought I would show you soapwort to start this post off.  The herb is so prolific, it has amazed me.  See what it looked like last year and what I do with it here.  I think it is safe to say it is four times the size in just one year!

Giving the deck a short break, let me take you to the side of the house, where I transplanted feverfew from the front to make room for the lavender.  I wanted to start growing feverfew about three years ago, as I read it was good for magraines which my sister suffers from.  I have yet to dry any for her, but enjoy the plant immensely.  The small little daisy like flowers make me smile with rememberance of childhood.  It is a happy plant, although not that happy as bees really don’t like it.



Mallow in flower
July 25, 2011, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Herbs

 

Tall Malow in bloom

I really love my mallow.   Here is a picture of the mallow this year.  It is just so beautiful.  I am planning on making another facial soon.  (see herefor the post)  I really can’t wait.  Many state that about a thousand species had been discovered, all of which not only contain much mucilage, but are totally devoid of unwholesome properties. Besides the medicinal virtues of so many species, some are employed as food;

marshmallow Flower in bloom

the bark of others affords a substitute for hemp; the cotton of commerce is obtained from the seed vessels of yet other species, and many ornamental garden flowers are also members of this group, the Hibiscus and the familiar Hollyhock among the them.

And speaking of hollyhock, I have a beautiful double hollyhock right now.  It is so delicate and eye-catching.  I have to say, every time I see it, I am mesmerized.  It is almost 5 feet tall and full of buds.  This is something I am going to enjoy while out on my deck that is for sure!

Double Hollyhock flower



Hardening off plants
May 17, 2011, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Herbs, Indoor Gardening, outdoor gardening, Seedlings

It is just about the time I start to harden off plants for the great outdoors.  My plants are much smaller than last year.  I didn’t start my seeds early like I have in the past.  I feel almost self conscious about it.  It was just such a hard winter, it was hard to think of spring.  My fault.

Celery and Thyme Seedlings

Because plants have not gotten use to the bright sun, one must gently expose them so that you don’t get a sunburn.  Many plants will not survive or be as productive as they should when they have to try to recover from a sunburn.  To prevent this from happening, you can not have tough love with them.  You need to be gentle and loving.  This week is partly cloudy and raining, but still in the high 50’s-low 60’s.  This has proven easy for the plants to have a transition.  I started with my thyme, lavender and leeks.  I set them out on my covered front porch that will get limited sun and be protected from the rain.  I bring them in the first couple of nights and leave in my bathroom, setting them back outside in the morning.  After 2-3 nights indoors, I start to leave them outdoors for nights as well.  I will slowly move them to a protected space that gets even more sun, then pending on the plant, I will plant them.  The whole process takes about 1-1/2 weeks to 2 weeks to complete.  Yesterday I brought out celery and more thyme.  Tomorrow I will bring out the rest of the thyme, marjoram, summer savory and maybe a few more herbs.  I won’t start the vegetables until this weekend, when the weather gets just a little better.