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Alice herbs

Alice

herbs

stevia, lemon verbena, julep mint, oregano, marjoram, 3x lemon basil and lime basil mix

(Click here for more on herb drying. Apologies for the quick camera phone pics. I had to catch her in the act! I decided to try to dry herbs this year on the wall art behind the kitchen table because there seem to be too many to fit in the kitchen window like last year. P.S. These words don’t count. It’s still Wordless Wednesday. Shut up.)

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I posted a list of all my seeds a bit ago here – but below is an updated list. Lord – I do NOT have space for all of these plants! (I think I’m done buying…I really should be…) I’ll be sharing and giving away a lot, so I’m willing to trade or share some via internet as well! Just drop me a line via comment or twitter!

Also, I already gave them a shout-out on Twitter, but a big THANKS to Botanical Interests Seeds! I ordered some stuff last night and realized I had forgotten to add Lime Basil, which I *really* wanted to try. I didn’t want to just order that separately and have to pay for shipping again, though. I contacted them and they had no problem holding my first order so they could be combined. Great people! …and so of course when I just went back to order ONLY the lime basil, I also got carrots, loofah (didn’t realize they had it and had wanted it), and lovage. oops!

– Spinach – Lavewa (supposedly slow to bolt) – Botanical Interests
– Basil – Mrs. Burns Lemon – Burpee’s Heirlooms
– Mesculun Salad Mix – Burpee
– Cinnamon Basil – Lake Valley Seed
– Broccoli – Di Cicco – Botanical Interests
– Shelling Pea – Wando (supposedly deals w/ some heat) – Botanical Interests
– Brussels Sprout – Long Island Improved – Botanical Interests
– Basil – Lime organic – Botanical Interests
– Lovage – organic – Botanical Interests
– Carrot – Tonda di Parigi – Botanical Interests
– Cucumber – spacemaster – Botanical Interests
– Gourd – Luffa – Botanical Interests
– Tomato – Cherry Rainbow Mix – Botanical Interests
– Tomato – Pole Speckled Roman (paste) organic – Botanical Interests
– Cypress Vine blend (my Granny grew this and I’ve had no luck with transplants from my mom, so I’ll give seeds a try) – Botanical Interests
– Zinnia – cut and come again – Botanical Interests
– Tomato – Heirloom Black from Tula – Seed Savers’ Exchange

Plus all these leftover seeds from last season…
– Gaillardia Aristata – Blanketflower – Ferry-Morse
– Nasturtium – jewel mix – Ferry-Morse
Campbell’s Tomato
– Detroit Dark Red beets – Page Seed
– zinnia – giant cactus flower mix – Burpee
– Royal Burgundy beans – Livingston Seed
– sweet pea – galaxy mix – Burpee Signature
– radish – Early Scarlet Globe – Page Seed
– Basil – sweet – Ferry-Morse
– Parsley – flat leaf Italian – Ferry-Morse
– Cilantro – Ferry-Morse
– Basil – opal (purple) – Livingston Seed
– giant cosmos – orange – saved by me (Burpee?)
Peachy Mama peppers (sweet, small peppers) – saved from CSA peppers

WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR:
There MUST be something in there you want! I plan on just buying starts from the Amish otherwise, but I’d be willing to trade for hot pepper seeds – anything that goes in salsa. Also looking for Black Russian tomatoes, large slicing orange or yellow heirloom tomatoes, and fun herbs. Flowers are also always good – anything as long as it’s not invasive in Maryland. Or anything else you think I’d like! Just ask – good lord that is a LOT of stuff when it’s all in one list. eek!!! Help a girl out and lets “spread the seed” (yes, I know that sounds dirty).

And now, welcome to the Herbal Almanac portion of the post. I’m going to start adding some comments in brackets if I feel the need.

Herb AlmanacJANUARY 22: This is the night to conduct love divinations. Maids scattered barley seeds under apple trees, saying “Barley, Barley, I sow thee/That my true love I may see/Taketh thy nake and follow me.” Her future husband walked along behind her, taking up the barley seed with his rake.

JANUARY 21: St. Agnes Day – Agnes is the patron saint of young girls. Today maids acquired sweethearts. To do so, they must carry ivy leaves next to their breasts, fast the day before, put on clean nightclothes, and go to sleep signing [a song I don’t feel like typing out – so watch out for girls in clean PJs carrying ivy in their boobies, guys!).

JANUARY 22: This is the traditional day to plant new hedges. [Exciting! ha. And nope, not happening today.]

seed list - 2010

So that’s the list of the stuff I want to order this year (click for a bigger view). A lot of varieties. Some stuff will go in pots, some in the old veggie garden, some in the yet-to-be-created one. And I’ll definitely have some seeds to share, plants to give away, and/or seeds to save.

I did get some stuff already. It snowed last night and this AM (about 2-3 inches or so), and I bought seeds on my way home from work from a local nursery chain that I knew sells Botanical Interests seeds. They didn’t have the rainbow cherry tomatoes or the lime basil, so I’ll have to order those online or look for them somewhere else. Here’s what I bought today:
– Spinach – Lavewa (supposedly slow to bolt) – Botanical Interests
– Basil – Mrs. Burns Lemon – Burpee’s Heirlooms
– Mesculun Salad Mix – Burpee
– Cinnamon Basil – Lake Valley Seed
– Broccoli – Di Cicco – Botanical Interests
– Shelling Pea – Wando (supposedly deals w/ some heat) – Botanical Interests
– Brussels Sprout – Long Island Improved – Botanical Interests

I went through “the stash,” and these are all the seeds I have left from last year. If you’re interested in trading for any of these, let me know! I’m giving the type and the brand of seed, in case you care where they’re from. Most were bought spur-of-the moment from Lowe’s, WalMart, or the local grocery chain.

– Black from Tula tomato (actually this year’s, from Seed Savers’ Exchange)
– Gaillardia Aristata – Blanketflower – Ferry-Morse
– Nasturtium – jewel mix – Ferry-Morse
Campbell’s Tomato
– Detroit Dark Red beets – Page Seed
– zinnia – giant cactus flower mix – Burpee
– Royal Burgundy beans – Livingston Seed
– sweet pea – galaxy mix – Burpee Signature
– radish – Early Scarlet Globe – Page Seed
– Basil – sweet – Ferry-Morse
– Parsley – flat leaf Italian – Ferry-Morse
– Cilantro – Ferry-Morse
– Basil – opal (purple) – Livingston Seed
– giant cosmos – orange – saved by me (Burpee?)
Peachy Mama peppers (sweet, small peppers) – saved from CSA peppers

OK, Herbal Almanac. (Please note, everyone that it says January 7 is the traditional first day to go back to work after Christmas. I feel jipped of some days off! Perhaps I should bring the almanac in to my boss to sway him?) January 8 is mentioned as a good day to make herb bread, and poppy seeds are specifically mentioned. I LOVE poppy seeds. Does anyone else have trouble finding poppy seed bagels outside of bakeries? They’re my favorite, and no one seems to carry them (only in the form of “everything bagels,” which I don’t like). Bring back the poppy seed bagels!

Herb AlmanacJANUARY 9: Winter Cockle-warmer is an old name for a winter soup. Make cockle-warmer more savory with dried calendula blossoms, winter savory, lovage, chives, and rosemary.

Herb AlmanacJANUARY 2: It is traditional to burn twigs of sweet-smelling marjoram as kindling in January.

JANUARY 3: Highlanders burn juniper this time of year. This holiday celebration has much in common with the ancient Roman Saturnalia, the festival of Janus, the two-faced god.

I don’t have any marjoram proper, but I do have plenty of dried oregano. And I didn’t pull up all of the oregano outside (it’s perennial)—some of it actually looks fine still, despite over a foot of snow and several hard frosts. I have lots of blue rug juniper planted on a hill – perhaps I’ll burn some next time we use the outdoor fireplace.

When I was emptying the last of the flower pots out for the winter, I just couldn’t let myself toss a totally fine looking geranium and parsley. So I potted them up in small pots and they’re living on top of the fridge with a fluorescent desk lamp on when I remember to plug it in (the same lamp I use to start seeds). I am happy to report that the parsley is getting new sprouts happily and the geranium (AKA pelagorium) has bloomed! I’m hoping it sticks around until Bloom Day, but even if it doesn’t then darnit I’m probably going to count it and post more pics anyway. I’m proud! I’m also overwintering the hibiscus, which I’ve mentioned before. I have limited space for overwintering (no basement or anything), so 3 or 4 is pretty much my limit. All of them look healthy so far, though!

winter perlagorium

Are you overwintering anything new this year?

Happy 2010, folks! I went out with some friends last night and had a good time and only a couple beers (really!). Unfortunately my hubby was working (from 3:30PM until 9AM – busy night!). Out of all of our New Year’s Eves since 2002, we’ve only spent 2 together for various reasons, and one of those we slept through! Oh well.

Anyway – while doing some xmas errands a few weeks ago, my hubby and I went to the Dollar King (the best chain of dollar stores imho – lots of good gardeny things). We walked throught he book aisle when I spotted The Herbal Almanac. The nice little sticker on the back informed me that its original retail was $15.95. It wasn’t year dependent, so I threw it in the basket for $1. I cracked it open today, January 1.

It’s a very cute little book. Not all days have anything, but on the days that have something, there might be an informative quote, a bit of old herb lore, or a suggestion about something that should be used now. The illustrations are lovely, and the illustrated herbs are all helpfully identified. I really like it!

This almanac is about the magic of plants. Its sources are many—earnest words from friends and family, ancient herbals with worn vellum pages and old handwritten recipes. Some of it is practical, some of it is eccentric. Much of the information is of no use, but all of it is fascinating. Let us revive some of the charming rituals of the past.—from the Introduction

So —BING!—idea! Whenever I post a blog entry in 2010, I am going to consult the almanac and share the bit of lore from that day. If there isn’t a tidbit for that day, I might pick the next closest day or something, but I’ll note that. I think it’ll be fun, and might actually help with blogging ideas, too. I’ve added a new category for it, too (even though I guess all 2010 blogs will go under there?).

So with the rules in place, here’s the first entry for 2010.

Herb Almanac“New Year’s Day presents are omens for success in the coming year. The traditional gift is ‘an orenge or lymon stickt round about with cloaves'”—Thomas Lupton, 1598

In Wales it was proper to give a New Year’s gift of a calennig, a clove-studded orange impaled upon a rowan tree skewer. Strenia, the customary gifts that Romans exchanged on the Kalends of January were bay branches and palm fronds for a year of joy and happiness.

I still have some fresh veggies.

HERBS (need to dry some more!):
•The genoa basil is kind of sort of hanging on. the opal basil still looks pretty good.
•The sage looks OK, but isn’t really growing any more. Should be back next year, though.
•The rosemary is mostly evergreen, so that’s cool.
•The lemon thyme is still nice and lush.

VEGGIES:
I pulled all the tomato plants, but I rescued some green tomatoes. Some of those are turning quite nicely. Please also note in the picture below how I TOTALLY ON ACCIDENT color coordinated things. How awesome am I? Also note that I can only claim the tiny tomatoes on the left. The apples, red tomatoes, and beet are all from good ol’ WalMart.

tomatoes etc

tomatoes etc.

Peppers! The pepper plants still need to be pulled (just didn’t feel like it last weekend). They still have flowers and small peppers, but they’ll never reach maturity. I did pick a LOT of jalapeños last weekend. I may slice up some of them and add them to my freezer bag of peppers for winter salsa, but I’ve also been letting a lot of them dry. They’re kind of pretty to me – I want to figure out how to make a pepper string to keep in the kitchen somewhere. (Apparently that’s called a ristra? And wow, they look super hard to make (scroll down)).

pepeprs

Not pictured: a bunch of pimento peppers

Do you still have any edibles going strong (or well, going at all) in your garden?

[I’m on vacation this week, but I’d love to come back to some suggestions on this one.] I usually dry a handful or two of basil just by letting it sit on the windowsill, but I have SO MANY herbs this year, I wanted to do something a bit more official so I can use the over the winter. Seems a waste just to let them die out. I do have 2 types of basil and a sage planted in a small pot on my kitchen sill, so we’ll see if they make it all winter (the windows are drafty, so I’m not sure if it will be too chilly. Elsewhere, they won’t get enough sun).

herbjarsI had been putting off the project because I didn’t know how I was going to store things, though. And lo and behold, when I went to the local Dollar Tree to see if they still had the sea salt and pepper grinders (they didn’t), I found spice jars for sale! How perfect is that?! I bought a bunch of them – I figure I can share the love a bit, plus when else am I going to find them for $1 each?? So I bought 7, then went and picked a bunch of herbs to dry.

First I cut them, washed them well, and left them to dry out a bit.

herbs for drying

herbs for drying

Then I patted them dry some more, and tied them up into little bundles with some gift-wrap twine (not too tight, especially since they were still a little wet).

herb bundles

herb bundles

Then I tied them up to another piece of twine that I hung from a cup hook in front of the kitchen window.

hanging herbs to dry

hanging herbs to dry


hanging basil to dry

hanging basil to dry

I figure they’ll take a couple weeks to dry, then I can mix them, crush them, and put them in the jars. In the meantime, they smell awesome – especially the lemon verbena and lemon thyme. Hopefully it’ll work and I’ll be able to use them all winter. I plan on doing (for myself) one basil, one basil and oregano, one lemon verbena, one rosemary and thyme, and one sage and thyme. Any other suggestions for combos for the herbs I have? I already did one sage and lemon thyme jar from some stuff I had dried already. Only…other than putting on chicken or potatoes, I kind of have no idea what to use it for! I also don’t know what to use the lemon verbena for. Sage and lemon verbena I’m lost on. Rosemary and lemon thyme are great on roasted potatoes, though. Maybe I should do a combo of that. hmm….suggestions?
sage-lemonthyme

FYI, I am in Zone 7, so the rosemary will generally stay evergreen all winter and come back next year. The verbena and thyme should as well (I know the thyme will). My oregano is currently in the tomato pots – not sure if I should try to save it or just start it from seed again next year (it was pretty easy). The sage will also reportedly some back, but I’m not a big sage fan, so it’s kind of OK if it doesn’t. The basil is annual, except what I’ll try to overwinter – the ones in the small planters, and some I’ve just rooted in a vase of water.

I like the sunshine helenium much better now that it’s bloomed, but it still needs to be moved in the fall. It’s too damn tall and it will crowd out the daylily near it. I’ll have to find something else interesting to plant in that spot.

mardi gras helenium, rudbeckia cherry brandy, sushine helenium

mardi gras helenium, rudbeckia cherry brandy, sushine helenium (all of which look sad from an early-on lack of rain) 😦

It is kind of cool that they’re all different, though. I think I’m still partial to the more painted on look of the mardi gras, but the sunshine is very pretty.

sunshine helenium

sunshine helenium

sunshine helenium

sunshine helenium

And now on to the veggie garden. Sorry for the kind of crap pics (view full size and magnify to see better), but I always take these in the evening when I get home from work, and by then the sun isn’t quite right for the best pics. Have to remember to take some earlier ones on the weekends. Everything in the veggie garden is doing well. We’ve had a bit of rain lately, so I haven’t used the soaker hose in a few weeks. I’m not sure how the advice to pick off lower leaves of tomato plants below the first set of flowers has worked out – supposedly it makes the stems stronger, but some of mine are still floppy (great, now I’ll get MORE searches for that!). I know that part of the reason for that is that they could use a bit more sun – hopefully if we do the new raised bed nearer the deck, I can start alternating the tomatoes yearly to that bed, where they will get more sun. The lack of sun also means they are a bit tall – which means that they are starting to outgrow all my cages – triangle cages (love them), standard tomato cages, and trellises with bambo. Oh well – I’ll make it work. I’m already miles better than last year.

They are still producing fine – between the tomatoes and peppers, I probably pick about 5 or 6 veggies a day. Not too shabby! And the herbs – my god the herbs! Would you like any??? It’s great though – I’m giving them away, and when they start to wane, I’ll dry or freeze them and have plenty for all winter long. Also – check out the GIANT cactus zinnia! I had no idea they got like this. Def going to (more strategically) plant more of these next year.

veggie garden on 8/4/09

veggie garden on 8/4/09

In this garden is: rosemary, marigolds, cactus zinnia, pimento peppers, banana peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes (hanging), roma tomatoes, big boy tomatoes, golden tomatoes, various other heirloom tomatoes, common sage, sweet basil, opal basil (in pot), cilantro (in pot), lemon verbena.

And look what I scored at a local nursery’s tent sale! Two large terra cotta pots (one large enough to grow tomatoes in) with small cracks – one for $7 and one for $3. Also 2 creme brulee heucheras (which I’ve wanted! Now I ummm have to figure out where to put them) and a yellow big sky coneflower (yeah, I have like 40 coneflowers on order from Springhill, but ummmmm I got this one, too). Might check back later on when they tend to put more of the decoration-type stuff on sale later in the year. I got a bunch of smaller pots last year at their tent sale for like $1 a piece.

sale pots

sale pots

heucheras and coneflower

heucheras and coneflower

And just for my hubby, who asked me this morning before getting his wisdom teeth out why I posted the crappy picture of him from the pub in my last post – a GOOD picture of him from the bar (and a not great one of me). It is HARD to find a good one of the two of us when either 1- I miss you when taking a 2-person self photo or 2- We are both in the picture but you are making a retarded face on purpose. Got it?? ❤

pub pic 2

pub pic 2

On a related note, I need to start blogging about general bitching about things as well as gardening. That is really my forté. We’ll see if it happens. In the mean time, I am picking up another CSA delivery tomorrow and am going to try to sneak some pics of the place…ssshhhhhhh….

Do not plant zinnias right beside the basil. They look freaking the same.

Zinnia, you are not an herb.

Zinnia, you are not an herb.

Below is a shot of the garden on Friday, 6/2/09. I’m future-posting this to Sunday, so as we speak I may be in the garden doing something to it. The magic of teh internets! Every single tomato plant, including the ones I started from seed, has tomatoes on it except the 2 smallest ones in pots in the driveway (planted very late) and the large one in the pot in the driveway whose blossoms keep falling off probably because of the ants. It looks like I’m going to have a shit-ton of roma tomatoes this year – I had no idea they were about as profilic as cherries. Not a bad thing, though! I like romas – not too gooey. Also please note the *freaking adorable* windchime I got from JoAnne’s Fabrics a couple weeks ago at 60% off. It has little buckets and watering cans!! My mom actually got the same one as a gift this spring. They have another one with little shovels and cultivators, too. I’ll def be trying to hit the store up again (they usually go to 75% off before everything is gone) and might have to get one of those. Last year I got 2 of those shepherd’s hooks you see and the trellises the tomatoes on the back right are growing on for crazy crazy cheap.

veggie garden 6/2/09

veggie garden 6/2/09

My black-eyed susan is now blooming. So pretty – a nice big leafy plant that is also covered in blooms for a lot of the summer. Can’t ask for much more than that. It’s the state flower of Maryland, so you see lots of random and wild varieties growing on the side of the road.

susan with shadows

susan with shadows

petal embrace

petal embrace

A photo story of some of the hijinx that have been going on in my garden, including snakes, bunnies, and mysterious missing flower buds.

Also note that my tomato support project is going well! I really like the triangle cages with extra support so far, and also seem to be doing well with the trellises with angled bamboo tied to the front. I am threading the plants through as they grow and tying off as needed. Will do a more complete review of the tomato support experiment when they get bigger.

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