Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are You Digging Your Garlic and Other Herbal Harvesting Going On!

Garlic Dug My Way!
We have this discussion every year.  The Herbal Husband tends not to remember the outcome unless it is in his favor.  For garlic to have any chance to overwinter or be stored long term, it needs a nicely formed wrapper.  As you may be able to see this garlic has both brown and green leaves, this is when I like to dig them.  Even at this stage the wrapper had some splits in it.  The Herbal Husband, however, likes big bulbs of garlic and thinks if he leaves them in the ground until the leaves all turn brown, the bulbs will be bigger.  It is just not the case and I can't convince him otherwise.

The other issue for me is that if it continues to rain, and we don't get a dry digging day soon, the garlic bulbs will come out split and the wrappers will start to degrade and will have to be used more quickly.  So stay tuned as the garlic turns in the ground! :)

I got some interesting new canning supplies from Ball.  They are individual herb jars so I decided to see how they worked.  I had dried eight or so stems of spearmint.  Took the leaves off the stems and then used my herb mill to finely grind the leaves.  They all fit in a 4 oz. jar.  I think it is a very cute idea for a Xmas present.
Spearmint Dried for Tea or Potpourri!
Cute Little Shaker and Pour Spout on the Jar!
Also Found a Scary Amount of Herbal Vinegars That Needed to be Decanted!
I Made This Potpourri Last Year!
I Found These Vintage Green Ball Canning Jars to Display the Potpourri!
I wrote about the scented geranium potpourri in Mother Earth Living last year.  The recipe can be found in my post called Aromatherapy Crafts for the Holidays, Part 2.  I'm trying to work inside during rainy days or the ickies and stickies days which we are having at the moment!  Hopefully the cold front will come through soon and cool us down and dry us out!  So I haven't been sitting on my herbal butt not doing something!  Can't believe it is almost the end of July!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Downy Mildew on Sweet Basil!

Leaf of "Organic" Sweet Basil with Downy Mildew
Underside of Same Leaf with Downy Mildew
A Whole Mess of Sweet Basil Seedlings with Downy Mildew! :(
I Really Don't Know Why This Basil is Doing OK!
Well, I can finally take a break from picking raspberries and making jam.  Never had this many great raspberries this early!  I did want to address this topic because it could be devastating to your sweet basil plants.  It is called downy mildew.  It exists in some vegetables, perennials and in the cruelest choice possible for herb lovers to sweet basil.  The good news is that at the moment the disease does not seem to affect other basils varieties, lemon, Thai, cinnamon, etc.  As Dr. McGrath calls them the fruit and spice varieties.  The other good news is that you can eat the diseased leaves and not die!   The Herbal Husband and I are living proof of that.  Also, in an ironic twist, the sweet basil that The Herbal Husband saved last fall from being dried by another local garden center was planted in the herb garden just recently and is doing fine at the moment.  Leaf moisture and humidity and limited air circulation are catalysts for downy mildew and we are having all of those at the moment!  So I will let you know if this basil gets the disease!  Fingers crossed!  The one big symptom of this disease is yellowing of the leaves which is a sign of a nutrient deficiency.  You can put a leaf that is showing symptoms but no spores in a plastic bag with a wet papertowel in the dark overnight to see if the spores will appear.  Good air circulation and sunlight will help keep your basil plants healthy.

The Herbal Husband has moved the seedlings in the container from outside to an inside western windowsill.  So as an experiment, he is still harvesting the leaves and the seedlings still have the disease.  This is one of those diseases that you have to start spraying from the start.  Click on the link above for solutions and to participate in Dr. McGrath's study at Cornell University.  One solution for organic gardeners would be Neem oil.  Unfortunately we thought we were buying organically grown at a local garden center.  I think we will have to wait for a resistant strain of sweet basil and they are working on that.  The use of light in greenhouse situations for commercial growers has been found to be effective in limiting growth of the disease.  In any case you need to destroy your plants and preferably on a sunny day so that "the disturbed spores are killed by UV radiation."

It has really been rainy here!  We had almost 3 inches last week and an inch overnight!  I wish we could share it with the western states that need it so badly.  Hopefully you are having a great weekend.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost their lives recently.  I will try to be more present and showing you what has been going on in the herb garden!  Talk to you later.

Friday, July 11, 2014

End of the Week, Herbally Speaking!

Lyre Leaved Sage Has Bloomed Again!
The Lemon Monarda is Blooming!
Calendulas Are Blooming Too!

I Just Clip and Drop the Spent Flower Heads of the Calendulas into the Bed Below!
The 'Silver King' Artemisia is Growing!

So Is the 'Sweet Annie' Artemisia!

Monarda and Coreopsis!
The Native Monarda!
The First Native Sunflower!
A Tiny Sunflower Volunteer in the Herb Garden!
A Butterfly Buddy on the Coneflower!
Made Three Batches of Lemon Basil Jelly!
Don't Forget to Eat the Edible Flowers of Herbs!
The first 'Alaska' Nasturtium is in Bloom!
The First 'Sungold' Tomato!   Had a Second One Too! So There Wasn't a Fight!
Blooming Cilantro!

Surprised at the Early Crop of Raspberries!
Did Two Batches of Raspberry Jam This Morning!
Well, I had a productive week in the garden!  As you can see, there is a lot going on in the gardens!  I have the most lemon basil this year and it will be my most made jelly flavor this summer.  The other surprise is our early pick of raspberries!   We have 'Heritage' raspberries that are quite old and they keep producing despite their age!  Most of the time the early crop around this time is either mushy or tacky and I have tried to use them for jam without success.  This year the raspberries have been wonderful and I set up the raspberries and sugar last night and then cooked them down this morning.  I think they were the best pour of jam I have had for awhile!  Just so satisfying when it turns out correctly!

We have also progressed from four-lined plant bug damage to Japanese beetle and stink bug damage!  I was thinking as I was catching the little darlings in my hands and dropping them into the beetle juice jar that I was never brave when I was a child like I am now.  Funny how you change over the years and when you finally reach 60 nothing is a big deal anymore!  It is always something in the bug world these days!  So hopefully you have had a great week in your herb garden.  The weather has been beautiful and we have another great day tomorrow before the rains come back.  Talk to you next week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

In the Doghouse, Herbally Speaking!

That Pot in the Center of the Photo is the Issue!
Boy, The Herbal Husband is in big trouble with me.  I don't pay attention a lot of the time.  There is just too much going on.  However, the other day when we had the cloud burst and the figs knocked over the tomatoes and we thought things were OK.  They are not!  This lovely one of a kind pot that I got at a deep discount and at an herb farm that went out of business has a CRACK!  It is supposed to be for lavender and it held in various years a 'Goodwin Creek' lavender and other varieties too numerous to name very nicely.  The Herbal Husband thought that a 'Cherokee Purple' tomato would do well too!  It is an indeterminate tomato not a beautiful lavender that mostly behaves!  He promises to fix it, but I'm not sure that it will be sturdy enough to hold another lavender. :(  We will see!

We are finally getting a thunderstorm and rain.  Got the grass cut this morning and picked a bunch of raspberries so I guess my jam making will start soon.  Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Bloomin' 4th!

Red is for Bee Balm 'Jacob Kline' in Bloom!
White is for 'Primadonna White' Coneflower!
Blue is for Borage!
Here is my contribution to the red, white and blue theme of tomorrow!  We are coming out of the ickies and stickies and going to have beautiful weather.  Hope Arthur doesn't linger too long in the Carolinas!  Have a great weekend!  Talk to you next week!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Let the Garlic Scapes Escape and a Drenching Experience!

Time to Get All Stinky in the Garden!
Used the Old Broken Clippers and Had to Have Gloves On!
Hey Dorothy, Here is the Top of a Walking or Egyptian Onion!
Sometimes I draw the short straw, herbally speaking.  It was time to cut the scapes from the garlic.  Lots of people love to eat the scapes.  Here is a recipe from Epicurious for Pasta with Garlic-Scape Pesto.  I have to admit that I haven't made this recipe and probably won't, but that shouldn't stop you from trying if you have extra scapes escaping!  Because of my GERD, I have to be very careful with the amount of garlic and onions I eat.  It just can be very harsh for me.  BTW, we use the scapes as trim around our fences to keep deer from browsing.  Doesn't work forever but it does keep them at bay for a bit!

So this is the last act before the garlic will be dug in mid to late July here in the 'Burgh.  The Herbal Husband and I have a differing view on when the garlic is ready.  I say when there is some green and brown in the stalks.  He thinks that it is OK to leave them until they are all brown.  That happened last year because of too much rain and when they were dug, the paper that forms around the bulb had split which makes them harder to store for long periods of time.  I even have a friend that digs them when they are green.  So you decide.  I'll try to remember to show ours to you when we dig them.

My buddy, Dorothy asked whether this was like a walking garlic.  I haven't heard that term but we do have Egyptian walking onions.  This third photo is the top of those.  When the bulblets are heavy enough the stem bends down and the bulblets plant themselves in the ground.  A couple of years ago, we had hundreds of these and here is the post I did about that experience called Too Much of a Good Thing, I Think!  I also found this website for additional information on the Egyptian walking onion.   Hope this helps you, Dorothy!  Please if you have any other questions, I'm here to help always!

We have the ickies and stickies big time here.  You stand still and are drenched.  Speaking of drenched, we both got drenched last night in a microburst on the back patio.  The big figs fell off their rollers and knocked down the potted tomatoes.  In turn as I was trying to roll out the awning, I was drenched by the water coming off said awning.  There will be no video fortunately of that turn of events.  I haven't been that wet for a long time!  Every plant was OK.  The 'Cherokee Purple' tomato was a bit shocked, but no fruit was lost and the figs survived their falls!  BTW, this is my 1,400 post!  Gads and I'm still talking!  Who knew?  Hope you had a great day!  Talk to you later.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Visit to the Royal Needlework School and Train to Great Malvern, England!

The Impressive Hampton Court Palace!
Door Detail is Superb!
Some of the Roses Were In Bloom in early May!
Loved the Color of this Rose!
The Very Long Perennial Borders at Hampton Court!
The Alice in Wonderland Trees!
Having said goodbye to my friend, Ros on Friday, Saturday was a day to see the sampler exhibit at the Royal Needlework School at Hampton Court Palace.  Got the train from Waterloo station.  Always enjoy being at Hampton Court Palace.  The gardens and grounds are meticulously kept.  The school is in tight quarters, but it is always fun to see what they are working on.  I was thoroughly entranced by the blackwork samplers.  Oh, no, other projects to do!  Still have to get the citizenship sampler done for you know who!  Always something going on!  Must stay and see the Palace next time I'm there!

When I got to the train station for a train back to Waterloo, the signals were down!  Fortunately I got a free taxi to an active station and I got a train to Clapham Junction which got me to Victoria Station.  The Herbal Husband had given me extra time in case I needed it and this was the time!  I got to Paddington later that afternoon for a train to Great Malvern for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival with Debs and Simon Cook.  Had never been to Great Malvern and was not disappointed!  I'll share my adventures soon.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Afternoon Tea at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England with Ros!

Beautiful 'Haddon Hall' Minton Dishes for Tea!
Ros and Our Afternoon Tea Tray!
The Sandwiches:  Smoked Salmon, Egg & Cress, Cucumber & Cream Cheese and Ham & English Mustard!
Dessert Second!  Not Really!  Raspberry Macaroon, Rhubarb & Kiwi Custard Tart, Lemon Drizzle Cake and Rocky Road!
One of My Favorite Parts of Afternoon Tea, the Scones with Cornish Clotted Cream and Home-made Apple & Rhubarb Jam!
Always looking for an excuse to have afternoon tea in England.  So I suggested a couple of places for my friend, Ros and I to go, Bea's of Bloomsbury or the restaurant at St. Paul's Cathedral.  She chose St. Paul's.  The restaurant is very light and airy and a lovely place for tea and goodies.  As you can see, there was more than enough for the two of us and it is very reasonably priced at under 16 pounds ($27.24) a person.  We had a lovely time.  Hope Ros and I can have a new adventure next time I'm in London!

The sun is out finally here.  The Herbal Husband got the hose out the other night and, of course, it rained within an hour after he put it away!  Typical!  He just can't wait.  If he had, it probably wouldn't have rained!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Day at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, England with Ros and . . .

I am fortunate to have made some lasting friendships in England because of blogging!  I got to see my friend, Ros who I met through blogging again on this trip.  I think we feel fortunate to have found one another.  I know I do and I think she feels the same way!  Instead of going to her this time, she came to me since she had never been to the Chelsea Physic Garden.

The Chelsea Physic Garden had only limited access during the Chelsea Flower Show week for many years.  Now it is mostly open to the public and here are their opening times.  It is just one of my favorite gardens in the London area.  I can go each time I visit and see something new each time.  There is a new Garden of Medicinal Plants that literally just opened in April.  The Garden of Medicinal Plants is laid out in rooms for each practice of medicine.  There are small boxes that have the interpretation of each practice.  The garden is still a bit bare, but I bet by next year it will be a thriving and illustrative garden.  The entire garden is wonderful and for a time you forget that you are in the city of London.

Hans Sloane, The Patron of Chelsea!
The Rockery with Very Old Rocks!

A Magpie Enjoying the Sunshine!
The Garden of Medicinal Plants
The Neurology Garden!
The Neurology Interpretation
I Loved the Serpent Looking Over the Medicinal Plants!
I Found Wormwood!  Yes, an Artemisia at Chelsea!
One of My Favorite Glasshouse Rooms, the Scented Pelargoniums!

A Simple Way of Defining Where You Planted Seeds with Sand!
The Truck Traffic Reminds Us We are in London!

The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants!

Artichokes Getting Ready to Bloom!
One of Many Botanical Order Beds!
The Chelsea Physic Garden just keeps getting better and better.  It is one garden in London that I make sure I get to visit!  I should become a member if I'm going to be in England every year!  Well, Ros and I had a great time and we dodge some raindrops, but had a few retail experiences as well.  We did have part two of our adventure and I'll share that with you next time.

We have the ickies and stickies big time here.  The Herbal Husband took out the hose because rain did not happen yet...  I think it might happen overnight, who knows.  Hope you are having a great day.  Part two of our adventure comes next time.  Talk to you later.