Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Drum Roll Please! And The Winner Is... Winner Has Replied!

The Trusty Dusty Cheese Basket and The Herbal Husband!
Yes, he is back in the northern hemisphere!  He had a great time with family and friends and now it's back to business, herbally speaking.  The old cheese basket is ready with the potential winning names.  I still don't have a list of items that will go into the box.  So you will get jam and jelly as pictured in my last post and whatever we can fit in that large flat rate box.  You will be happy!  Oh,  almost forgot, the winner's name is:

LEE

I have reached out to the winner.  And I heard from her.  We will get the box ready and get it in the mail promptly.  You will have it in any case before Christmas.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has participated in my blog this year.  You are all herbal blessings to me and The Herbal Husband.  We would like to wish everyone who reads these words a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My Annual Herbal Holiday Box Giveaway! This Contest Has Ended!

We are at that time of year already!  Didn't the year fly by?  Since I did not do a blogiversary giveaway in August, it was my ninth year, we will blow the doors off with this herbal holiday giveaway.  My herbal packer a/k/a The Herbal Husband is away at the moment, but on his return next week, I will have more specific contents.  It is a Large Flat Rate box.  You can put a lot in this box.  Here is what I know for sure.

You will get one each of my raspberry jam and four other jellies to include, tarragon wine and rose geranium from last year and lemon verbena and pineapple sage from this year.

Part of the Herbal Items in the Herbal Holiday Box!
Then it will be up to the herbal packer a/k/a The Herbal Husband to decide what else will fit.  He is a marvel so you will be happy I know.

More Herbal Goodies in This Bag, BAG IS NOT PART OF THE GIVEAWAY!
OK, this contest will run from the time posted today, Tuesday, December 5, 2017 to Noon (12:00 PM) Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.  It is open to residents of the 50 states of the United States.  It gets too pricey for foreign countries.  Please leave a comment with CONTACT INFORMATION ON THIS POST ONLY.  Just a genuine way I can contact you!  Oh one entry per person please!   I will try to have a complete list of items before the contest ends posted.  The Herbal Husband will have the honor to pick the winner next week and then we will get in touch and mail the box as soon as we can.  Facebook friends please comment on this post on the Facebook side to enter.  Good luck everyone! 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Holy Blooming Cuban Oregano!

What a Surprise When I Was Watering Today!
In all my years of growing this herb, I don't think I have ever had this herb bloom.  I love this herb, Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) which is not actually an oregano at all.  It has a bunch of common names:  Mexican Mint, Indian Borage, Caribbean Oregano, Country Borage, French Thyme, Indian Mint, Soup Mint, Spanish Thyme and Cuban Oregano.  It is so important to know your botanical name.  Common names are different in different areas of the world as you can see above.
   
It is very easy to grow in a container.  It was used in Victorian times as a bedding plant.  It is a tender perennial here in the 'Burgh.  It has a very pungent smell and flavor, a camphorous one.  There are lots of people in the Caribbean regions who use it in cooking.  I just tasted a flower and I would not use it in cooking.  It is too intense for me.  If you are interested in trying to cook with it, here is a recipe for Grilled Cuban Oregano Chicken from the Feral Kitchen and the 10 Best Cuban Oregano Recipes from Yummly.  Please let me know if you try any of these recipes.

We were much more seasonal today with sunshine and even cold temperatures seem better when there is sun.  The wildlife and I got along a bit better today, but I am counting the days until The Herbal Husband returns.  Hope you have had a great day.  It is December already!  I feel like I have glided through this year!  You may think so too!  OK we are getting closer until I unveil the contents of my annual Herbal Christmas box.  It is epic this year!  Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Spearmint Lives On!

A Tiny Bit of Green in A Lot of Brown!
Wow!  Where has November gone?  I certainly didn't have a lot to say, did I?  And now The Herbal Husband has gone to visit family and friends in Peru!  I guess that is the good news and bad news.  I know I take for granted what he does for me around here each and every day!  I am exhausted chasing those darn squirrels away from the peanut caddy!!

I was out on the street brooming the leaves from our neighbor's giant oak tree into the front beds.  It is a wild and crazy thing.  The spearmint is surviving in a sea of brown!  I did get some lemon verbena and Texas tarragon cut and hanging in the basement to dry.   So I will be down in the workroom some day next week.  I really need to work on some herbal tea blends.  I have been drinking too much black tea!  Never!  But this is an herbal blog and I need to start using what I dried!

We are having spring type weather here.  It was 65° yesterday!   Supposedly the bottom will drop out next week.  I really do enjoy sweater weather.  Now on to the important stuff.  I didn't get to do a blogiversary giveaway in August.  I will however be doing a monster Herbal Christmas giveaway soon.  Please stay tuned!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Looks like turkey leftovers are tonight's dinner.  Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Cascade of Coconut!

The weather is getting cooler here finally.   Sunday when we were working in the garden, the smell of coconut was overwhelming.  So I was reminded how much I love coconut scented geranium (Pelargonium grossularioides).  In the Jim Becker & Faye Brawner book, Scented Geraniums, the description of 'Coconut' says "The leaves of this species are small, round, and deep green.  It forms a low-growing mound of foliage with long sprays of very small magenta flowers.  It has a pleasant scent, though not necessarily that of coconut, and self-seeds freely."

Coconut does self-sow in the herb garden and I have taken it for granted.  Not anymore!  Next the pollinators find the tiny magenta flowers very enticing.  And finally I would say the fragrance of this particular scented geranium is very tropically coconut!  Delicious.  I am going to make sure to dry some leaves and see how the fragrance holds up.

Hope you had some time in your herb garden today.  Looks like Thursday and Friday this week will be the final harvesting days for me.  Flurries in the forecast!  Talk to you later.
A Wiff of Coconut!  Delicious!

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Beauty and Regret of Fall in the Herb Garden!

By Far One of My Favorites in the Fall!
Who would have thought that the parsley post the other day would get me in the mood to blog.  You really haven't missed all that much in the herb garden.  And as I went over what I have blogged about this season, you saw quite a bit more than I remember!   I am going to share with you some photos over the next week of specific herbs that I really have grown to love over the years. 

Margaret Hall reminded me that this is one of them, pineapple sage (Salvia elegans).  She stated she has tons of it and would I share my pineapple sage jelly recipe.  I would be happy to do so.  Here is a link for three of my favorite herb jellies, including pineapple sage:  An Herbal Jelly Recipe Marathon! I always try to encourage readers over the growing season to use your herbs.  I am not the greatest cook, but I do try to share my successes using herbs when it happens.  I would tell you Margaret to use your pineapple sage fresh in fruit salads, iced teas and baked goods.  My experience trying to dry it has not worked.  The Herbal Husband being my chief herbal sniffer and tester can tell you that it loses its fragrance and taste of pineapple when dried.  You could try freezing some fresh leaves and see what happens to them.  I have just not wasted too much time doing that.  We have also brought our pineapple sage inside when it hasn't gotten too big, but that doesn't always work out well either.  I know that there are pineapple sage pound cake recipes out there.  Here is a link to my search on Google and you can pick the recipe you would like to try Pineapple Sage Pound Cake Recipes.  There are a lot of choices.  Short of using it fresh with fruit or tea or baked goods, I don't have any new ideas.  If my readers have an interesting way they use pineapple sage leaves, please let me know and I will pass it on in a later post.  That's the beauty of the fall herb garden.

Now to the regret!  When I first started my herb journey more than 25 years ago, I wanted to grow everything exotic and interesting in the herb world.  Sometimes too many plants of the same variety that when the fall came, I either had regret because I didn't use them at all or I had so much of one product that I couldn't use it all or share it all!  So my vision over the years has become very narrow and as much I would like to grow every new variety of herb, I will stick to my tried and true favorites and make what I can to share and not worry so much about having it all.

I bet you are wondering why is she inside writing when she should be out in the garden harvesting?  The forecasters were incorrect and it has been raining since early morning!  So much for harvesting the garden.  I will get to it sometime this week.  Snow in the forecast next week for Halloween!  Maybe they will be incorrect again!  Hope so!   Well I hope you are enjoying your day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hurry Up and Harvest!

My New Favorite Herb!
Well, it is getting to be that time in the herb garden!  Running around like crazy harvesting what needs to be harvested, herbally speaking that is.  In the photo is a favorite of mine.  Though I don't always have it in the herb garden.  It is called Texas tarragon (Tagetes lucida) by those of you who can't grow French tarragon in the heat of the south.  A member of the marigold family.  I think I have shared this link before from Texas A & M called The Three Tarragons.  It really does a good job.

This plant is two years old which means The Herbal Husband coaxed it through the winter last year.  I was hoping it would bloom this year, but I think it got too much shade from the lemon verbena not necessarily a bad thing.  I will mainly use my Texas tarragon dried in tea blends.  We will not be digging many of our tender perennials this year because they have gotten too large.  I would love to bring them all in, but it is just not going to happen.

So here are some of the herbs I will be harvesting this week:  lemon verbena (dry), Texas tarragon (dry), green pepper basil (vinegar), scented geraniums (dry) and chives (freeze).  I have already made a box each of lemon verbena and pineapple sage jellies.  I have not been as busy jelly wise this season as in others.  Didn't have that much extra time.

So as you can see the parsley post jump started my blog! Who knew that was going to happen?  Hope you are having a beautiful day wherever you may be.  Got to get out in the herb garden.  Talk to you later.


Friday, October 20, 2017

The Parsley Fairy Came!

Going to be Soup This Winter!

As you can see The Parsley Fairy (My Herbal Travel Companion, Bonnie) supplied the parsley in these two vases on the counter.   I came in from an errand and thought "Wow!  I thought our parsley plants were buried by other plants!"  Then I was enlightened by The Herbal Husband as to the source.  Here is a link to the recipe for Parsley Dill Soup.

I called Bonnie to thank her and she told me that the local herb group was harvesting their herb garden and cutting big bunches of parsley and cutting back their perennial herbs!  Lavenders, sages and thymes particularly.  Some herb gardeners are able to do that in the south especially.  Here in the northern half, I would tell you not to do that now.  Even though we have been having summertime weather here, it is way too late to be making a major harvest of perennial herbs.  It is always OK to trim out dead or diseased branches.  Just don't do anything too drastic.  It will be interesting to see how the local herb group's plants fare.  I will let you know what I learn in the spring!

As I have stated my needlework has sidetracked me these days.  I just have enjoyed that more than trying to figure out what to do in the herb garden.  I really do have a lot to say about herbs.  I just have to come up with a routine to post periodically and a bit more than zero or one post a month.  I am able to blog on my tablet so hopefully you will hear from me more often.  Remind me if I go away for too long.  We are going to have one great weekend and maybe I will get out and take a long look at what has been going on.  There is a lot of work to be done.  Talk to you later.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Not Quite My Herb Garden Anymore!


When we planned our 30 year celebration earlier this year, I knew that the herb garden was not going to be tended for over three weeks.  I had to let the garden go and just hope we got enough rain and sun.

On the other hand, The Herbal Husband does a lot of the planting for me.    And he has decided to move plants in that I would not have ordinarily planted.  Other plants are volunteers.  Looking at the garden this morning, I was sort of depressed.  I just can't embrace it as my garden anymore.  I think it might need a Bobcat!  A new blog called The Herbal Husband's Herb Garden maybe?


Monday, September 4, 2017

Been Celebrating 30 Years Early!

You may have wondered about me and my blogging.  Well, The Herbal Husband and I took advantage of having friends to visit in Europe and spent 24 wonderful days in The Netherlands, England and France celebrating (early) 30 years of marriage.  That's how my August flew by!  So here are a few view of our trip and hopefully I will be inspired to blog a bit more later.

Pride Week In Amsterdam!
The Harbor in Monnickendam, The Netherlands
A Scone Sandwich!

The Geffrye Herb Garden!

Afternoon Tea at the Claridges!

Strawberry Soup Celebration!

A Parisian Vertical Garden!
A Laundry Cart
And an Elevator!
I have so many photos to go through.  I still have my trip in 2016 to finish!  I am way way behind!  Hopefully you will hear from me soon.  Yet I still have joy in my stitching.  Happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Prairie Garden Completed!

After 25 Years It Is Finished!
I know that cross-stitch is not why you read my blog.  Although during the last 9 or 10 months, I have become quite obsessed with my needlework to the detraction of my garden.  I will be honest with you, I am not sure that will change.  I have discovered quite a few WIP pieces from my stash box that I am going to finish this year if possible.   I was so glad to get the coverlet finished and I would like to give a big shout out to Lori Antonetti of Good Time Quilts for doing a fabulous job on the quilting and finishing.  She had never worked with a cross stitch coverlet before, but I was confident in her skills and the equipment she has that she would do a wonderful job and she did! 

And where did July go?  I can't believe I am writing this in August.  We have had a lot of rain.  Two inches in one day and then an inch here and there.  Many people in the tri-state area were flooded.  It has been a disastrous summer for them.  The weeds are growing nicely though.  One of my Facebook friends had a poster that reads:  Pardon the weeds, I'm feeding the bees!  Thank God for the bees!  So I hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I will talk to you later. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lemon Verbena Living, How Did I Miss This?


A Very Early Bloom on My Favorite!
Well, it had to happen sooner or later.  There is a blog that is really and truly about my favorite, lemon verbena.  It is called Lemon Verbena Living from Mia Sherwood Landau in North Texas.  Mia lives, eats, breaths, grows and sells lemon verbena, live and dried.  She also found a book called A Plant of Lemon Verbena by Alicia Amy Leith from 1895 from England!  How did I not hear about this book or this blog?  I have been in my stitching cave, stitching!  That's why!

So I have linked her blog here in this post and in my favorite blogs in the U.S.  Hopefully, I will get some time to sit down and read the entire blog.  Looks like I have a bunch of reading to do Mia from 2014, but I think I will enjoy doing it and I will probably learn a ton about our favorite, lemon verbena.  Glad you found me Mia!  I am very delighted you did!

Since I talked about an Herb Companion post or two last post, I will give you links to my favorite posts about lemon verbena here:   In 2009 I did a post called The Lemon Verbena Lady's Favorite Herb.  In 2010 I did a post called A Summertime Favorite:  Lemon Verbena Jelly.  In 2011 I did a post called The Lemon Verbena Tales:  New Pests and Harvesting Tips.  In 2012 I did a post called The Herbal Harvest:  3 Lemon Verbena Recipes.  So that should give you few thoughts about my favorite in one place.

Here in the 'Burgh, IT IS STILL RAINING!  I have made a box of raspberry jam already.  We are supposed to have our last day of rain tomorrow and then we are to dry out.  I got the great news that my coverlet is finished and so Monday I will pick it up and hopefully show it to you then.  Hope you had a great day in your herb garden.  Ours is a jungle at the moment!  Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Going Big in the Herb Garden!

The Elecampane Has Started to Flower!
One of the activities I do when I am not blogging in the winter is get out my copies of The Herb Companion magazine and come up with topics.  I have always been interested in herb garden design.  In the end I am basically just an herb plunker, herbally speaking!  But this winter when I pulled out my magazines, I came across a wonderful array of lists and plans of herb plants for different situations.  Maybe this will be my light bulb moment, herbally speaking!  I was attracted to the elecampane when we were in France in 2011 and stopped at Chateau Val Jonais.  Bonnie was kind enough to give me hers and now I need to plant some others to give it a bigger punch!

The Elecampane Made a Statement at Val Jonais!
I was just reminded that as a guest blogger for The Herb Companion aka Mother Earth Living, I wrote a post called Growing Big Herbs:  Angelica, Borage and Tansy.  That post talked about the tansy attracting all of the ladybugs and their eggs into the herb garden among other benefits.  So big is just not taking up space.  In this post I also referenced the article that I found this winter by Rob Proctor from a January 2000 magazine called Big is Beautiful:  Grow Big Herbs for a Beautiful Garden.  As I get older and want to do less weeding, I am looking to bigger fuller herbs and herbal shrubs to take up spaces and make a statement.  Hopefully, you will find the right combination of herb plants from his list for your herb garden.  Don't forget to use the Mother Earth Living website because they have the archived articles from The Herb Companion magazine available to you.  I will try to keep sharing my finds in posts along the way!  Also if you go to my home page that gives you a page of my guest posts for The Herb Companion and Mother Earth Living!

The rain just continues to fall and the ickies and stickies are back.  I have made several batches of raspberry jam already.  So there is a silver lining in the rain.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  I will talk to you later.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sporadic Blooming, Christmas in July and Raspberry Jam!

Butterfly Bush Starting to Bloom!
My Favorite is Blooming This Season.  Second Year Plant in the Ground!
Swordleaf Elecampane, a Shorter Version of Elecampane!
Echinacea, a Staple in the Herb Garden
Monarda Blooming in Time for the Fourth!
I Thought This Monarda Was a Lighter Color Last Year!
Really 'Hot Papaya' Echinacea!
'Hall's Pink' at the Mailbox
The Really Big and Tall Elecampane!
After 27 Years in the Stash Box, Three Herbal Bouquets Finished!
An Apple Tree Ornament!
A Christmas Lantern Ornament!
The Start of Jam Season!
Really can't believe that it is July already!  We are still getting rain.  So the weeds are monstrous but there is sporadic blooming going on.  As I sit here typing, the skies are darkening again and we are about to have another rain storm.  Our blooming is spread out through our gardens, but not nearly enough to make a statement.  Will have to work on that for next year.

We do have some butterflies and bees, but they are not as present as in other years.  I think that has to do with all of the rain we are getting.  Hopefully starting tomorrow, we will have a few dry days so that the butterflies and bees will be visiting. 

One of my friends asked on Facebook if Monarda reblooms.  Yes, if you pick the petals off and keep the head intact, the flowers will rebloom.  You can use the petals in salads or dry them to put in your tea blends.  The leaves of the monarda do get mildew in this area and once the blooming has finished you can cut the leaves back and it will generate a new crop of mildew free leaves.  My two different varieties of elecampane are blooming.  The small one is in the herb garden and the large one is back in the flower bed I began last season.  I like the large enough to get more for next year.  I think I will continue to go big in the back beds and let plants take over.  Elecampane doesn't take over, but it does have a large presence.

I have been concentrating on my stitching because of the heat, humidity and rain.  As you can see, I have completed the three herbal bouquets from cross stitch magazines that are from 1990!  They each took about two weeks to finish.  Very excited!  I am also working on some small projects including the Christmas ornaments shown above.  Very happy and fulfilled to be stitching again.

And the raspberries have started to produce and I have already made two batches of jam.  Really raspberries are like clockwork.  I made my first batch of jam around the same time last season.  Christmas presents will include jam this year.   So hope you have had a great season so far in your herb garden.  Let me know what you are up to!  Also as always, I am up for any herbal questions you may have.  Hope you are having a fabulous day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, June 23, 2017

You Might Have Missed This, Herbally Speaking!

Photo Above is Double White Feverfew!  Borage Flowers, A Bee Favorite!
Clary Sage, Lamb's Ears and White Rose Campion in Bloom!
Apothecary's Rose!
Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur'
Calendula and Golden Feverfew!
One of My Favorites, Golden Feverfew!
The Pink 'Fairy' Rose is Outstanding!
The 'Hot Papaya' Echinacea Has Come Back
The Roadside Day Lilies Have Started Their Display!
Part of the Old Grape Arbor Made Into a New Entrance!
Another Part of the Grape Arbor Into the Front Garden!
Our Deterrents!
Well, June is a week from being history.  I have been struggling mightily to blog.  This post has been a challenge.  I did want you to see what is going on in the garden.  Lots of blooming!  And as I look outside, lots of rain!  Cindy has made its way to the 'Burgh.  We really didn't need her!  It has been raining so much that I mowed in the rain earlier this week.

This is one of my favorite times in the garden.  Lots of herbs are starting to bloom as you can see above.  The bee balm will be in its glory for the fourth of July!  Also wanted to show you the extra items The Herbal Husband made with the old grape arbor.  I think they both add character to our already quirky garden.

We are having a surge in wildlife in the garden, including but not limited to, a groundhog (eating on the driveway), skunk (several sightings at night), possum (having dinner out of our recycling can), raccoon and yesterday a doe brought her two fawns with her for a visit plus the three or four feral cats that roam the gardens.  It's a zoo!

Hope you are having a great day without rain!  I have definitely had enough rain, but the weeds are enjoying the extra rain as always!  Will talk to you later.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Rainy June, Herbally Speaking!

My Purchases from Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve!
Basil in a Container Until the Temperatures Heat Up!
Beneficial Insect Found the Calendula Flower Right Away!
And So Too the Rue Flowers!
The Lemon Balm Scented Geranium is Flowering!
I Know I Have Written About This Rose!  Can't Remember the Name!
The Yarrow is Blooming As Well!
My herbal companion, Bonnie and I had a splendid day at Beech Creek Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve in Alliance, Ohio.  We were pleasantly surprised by the school buses with children learning about nature and gardening.  They don't have nearly the selection of herbs that they did at their previous location, Lily of the Valley Herb Farm.  The quality of their plants is very good.

Well, well, well, June is busting out all over here in the 'Burgh!  We have had so much rain over the past few weeks.  Almost every day The Herbal Husband reports that we have received an inch of rain!  My weeds are letting me know how good it is for them.  I have voluminous amounts of weeds in the bad bag and still it keeps raining.

As you can see from the sampling of herbs and flowers in the photos, the rain has helped in great measure to liven up the landscape.  The mild winter helped as well.  I had verbena bonariensis come back from the plant itself.  I think they generally self sow here.  I have also lost some plants that I thought would come through.  The French tarragon had two very tiny stalks.  They didn't last.  Although my Texas tarragon that was in a container in the basement all winter is flourishing!   I thought a chocolate flower that never is hardy here, was going to make it through.  Sadly it died.  I also wanted to mention that we put the sweet basils I purchased into a container because we have not been consistently in the 80's in the daytime and the 60's at night.  Basils do not enjoy cold soils!  May was a beautiful month for gardens here and June is on pace to be equally as nice.

Hope you are having a great day in your herb garden and you will stop by from time to time to check out what is going on in my herb garden.  I have started the process of cutting my chive blossoms.  Make some chive blossom vinegar if you have some that haven't gone past!  Just go out and enjoy the beauty of your herb garden every chance you get.  You will get pleasure from growing fresh herbs!  Talk to you soon!