Thursday, September 30, 2010

If Your Garlic Chives Look Like This...!

Get out your clippers and clip those seed heads off quick!  I have zillions (OK, just millions) of garlic chives!  I already have tons of garlic chives.  So if your seed heads are like the ones above, get busy!  I got most of my mine cut yesterday.  Yes, I become herbally obsessed!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Remnants of Nicole are giving us a gentle rain.  Not like on the east coast!  Hope there is not too much flooding with Nicole.  Going to see the new Wall Street movie.  Talk to you later!

A Quick Update for Becca and Anonymous  Garlic chives are similar to chives but have flat leaves not round that can be added to stir fries  and other dishes that you need to add a garlic taste.  They have white flowers in August and September.  The seed heads need to be cut vigorously to make sure they do not take over.  I'm going to be spending a lot of my gardening season next year getting rid of my volunteer garlic chives!  Becca and Anonymous, you can plant garlic in about two weeks.  You can buy a bulb in the grocery store and separate the cloves and plant them in the ground.  Supposedly the bulbs in the stores are sprayed so they will not grow, but I have grown garlic from grocery store cloves.  I know Becca is in the south and maybe Anonymous as well, you can actually plant it now, but here in the north we plant it around Columbus Day.  It is usually dug up in mid to late July, depending on the weather. 

Wall Street, the movie was very good.  Great cast, well acted!  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Herbal Moving Day!

I don't usually move plants around this late in the year.  OK, OK, you know me too well!  When the frost warnings come, we are running around trying to dig up plants to bring in!  So we moved this linear leaf thyme out of its old container.  It was falling apart literally!

Here is the new container and the thyme took up every nook and cranny of it!  I forgot to get a new photo!  I will post it tomorrow!  Hope you had a good day wherever you may be.   I've added a whole bunch of stuff to my blog.  Hope you enjoy it!  Here is the container newly planted!  It is getting a good drink right now from remnants of Nicole!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Never Too Much Tarragon!

A pile of tarragon for use in jelly and vinegar
Spent the afternoon making three recipes of white grape tarragon jelly.  I think it turned out well.  I will share the recipe if I like the end result.  I saw the combination in the Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead book, The Herbal Pantry.  I made up the recipe.  The photo of the book is below.  I did have a bunch of tarragon left and just put it in a sterilized quart jar and filled the jar with white wine vinegar.  Will check it in about two weeks or so.  I learned from Jim Long's Making Herb Vinegars booklet this past weekend that it is better to put vinegar in a cupboard and not on a windowsill in the sun.  Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

A Box of Good and Plenty Candy!

Oh, I meant to say just like a box of Good and Plenty candy in the title!  As you can see, I'm in my garden trying to tidy up before the big W sets in!  This was last week because this week has been rainy.  This is anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum).  It is one of my favorite edible flowers because it tastes just Good and Plenty candy.  I am sure I'm dating myself now!  I think they must have Good and Plenty in those vintage candy boxes they sell!  You can also use the leaves in tea both fresh and dried.  Some gardeners find this plant invasive, but I have never had too much anise hyssop.  In fact sometimes I wish I had a bit more.  I need to gather some leaves and dry them for my tea blends this fall.  I have not been drying enough.  I have provided a link from The Herb Companion magazine on anise hyssop for you to browse.  Hope you are enjoying your day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Mistake Was. . .

Ok, Becca from A Southern Garden by Becca for your birthday, I am going to teach you how to make up a page for your blog.  I was making the mistake of going to Design and clicking on Add Gadget and then adding a page that way.  Maybe you can do it that way, but I found an easier way.  You simply go like you would to do a New Post and just under Settings it says "Edit Pages".  You click that and then it gives you a big blue button that says "New Page".  Click on that and it looks just like when you do a post for your blog.  You can add links and pictures just like in a post.  You can do all kinds of pages, but you can only do ten for the time being.  Hope this has been clear.  If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.  See if my directions help you.  I think you can figure it out.  If not, maybe a trip to Alabama would help!  You all have to go and wish Becca a very happy birthday, because it's tomorrow!  Happy Birthday, Becca!  May you have many more! 

New Pages on My Blog!

Well, I finally got some help from the Blogger help pages.  I put together a couple of new pages that you will see across the top of my homepage just beneath my banner photo!  It's about time!  Most of you have these pages.  I'm still very bad at new technology!  Hopefully, I will add a few more in the coming days and I will change them up every so often so there will be something new for you to learn.  Right now they are about my favorite, lemon verbena and I may keep these two as a fixture and try to add to them periodically.  Met a woman at the Fair on Saturday who hates the internet and I needed to put together some information on lemon verbena for her and mail it to her.  Still using the good old mail!  So I have given it to you as well.  The growing tips are for this region, because there are some of you lucky people that lemon verbena is a small shrub or tree and can grow year round!  You know who you are!  Lucky, lucky!  Well, it is a wet, dreary, cool day here and I'm off to blanch some beans and then make some jelly or may be go to the movies to see Wall Street.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Herbal Husband Wanted You to See This!

These are 'Musica' beans from Renee's Garden Seeds in California.  Renee Shepherd has been a well-known and consistent force in the seed business for many years and in 1997 started Renee's Garden Seeds which is a web based business and they do have businesses that sell her seeds as well.  She just doesn't have a paper catalog any more.  I think I found 'Musica' at Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia one year and have almost always grown them in our garden.  Musica because The Herbal Husband is Peruvian.  Although these are more of an Italian flat bean.  Do the Spanish have flat beans as well?  Duh, they are 'Musica'!  These two were sort of like the zucchini that you missed that turned into baseball bats!  The lower one I think is around 11" long!  Better call Guinness!  No, it will be long gone for dinner before that happens.  Well, I've got to go exercise!  Been a bit of a slug.  Although we did walk a bit yesterday at Seven Springs!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Beautiful Day at the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs!

The Hotel at Seven Springs

Jim Long Talking About Growing and Using Herbs

Lemon Verbena Lady Meets Jim Long

K.C. Compton and Fall in Love with Flavor

Lemon Verbena Lady Meets K.C.
Lily of the Valley's Booth

Companion Plant's Booth

A Belgium Draft Horse That's 17.3 Hands High!

Momma and Baby Alpacas

Overview of Outside Exhibitors Area
Well, I hope you get an idea of what you may have missed if you weren't up at Seven Springs in southwestern Pennsylvania.  It was a beautiful day and lots of people from all over the country (We were behind a license plate from California!) were at the Mother Earth News Fair.  You still have a day to pack up the kids and go!  There was so much traffic at the beginning that we missed most of Jim Long's talk on herbs.  Sorry, Jim!  We did have a brief meeting and I gave him some cinnamon basil jelly!  You have inspired me for years, Jim!  Thanks for all of the good information.  We did get to hear the editor-in-chief of The Herb Companion magazine, K.C. Compton speaking about herbs and flavors.  You were very informative, K.C. and I'm not just saying that because I blog for you!

My American Herbal Companion and I had to try out the crab cake sandwich for lunch.  It was hit.  Two of our favorite herb sellers were there, Lily of the Valley in Minerva, Ohio and Companion Plants in Athens, Ohio.  Then we moved outside and looked at the farm animals, the Belgium draft horses were huge, 17.3 hands high!  The alpacas, momma and baby were beautiful.  The last photo is an over view of the outside area.  We had a fun day.  You will too if you go!  I'm going to be in the garden tomorrow.  Got to attack those stray and pesky ornamental grasses and garlic chives!    Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Early Morning Herb Garden Views!

The Pineapple Sage Finally in Bloom!

The 'Nazareth' Sage Back to Its Silver Color!

The Nasturtiums Are Still Blooming!
The 'Berggarten' Sage Looking Good!  
The good thing about coming back from England is that I have been walking early in the morning.  It gives me a very good start for the day and it is still hot here!  What's up with that?  It is going to abruptly end tonight and be more autumnal tomorrow for the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.  I will be there tomorrow to meet my editor-in-chief, K.C. Compton from The Herb Companion magazine and one of my favorite herbal authors, Jim Long!   It's about an hour southeast from Pittsburgh.  Check out the schedule in the link above for ticket pricing and schedules.  Saw Ben Affleck in The Town yesterday.  Very intense, but very well written and acted.  Don't usually go to these kind of movies, but the cast was excellent.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

I finally got to meet the Queen of Herbs in England, Jekka McVicar and she gave me a new title.  My English Herbal Companion and I visited Jekka's Herb Farm outside of Bristol, England.  I even had another driving experience in England and survived!  So my latest guest post for The Herb Companion magazine is about our visit.  Here is the link Jekka McVicar: Queen of the Herbs.  The visit was so wonderful that I'm taking a couple of posts to describe my visit.
Jekka's passion is herbs and at her herb farm it is all about the plants!  My passion as well.  This is a small sales area where Jekka's seeds, notecards and books, particularly her new cookbook was sold! 

Hope you enjoy my guest posts in England and that you have had a wonderful day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One of My Favorites This Time of Year and the Bees Too!

I have written about this flower before.  It is a Rudbeckia herbstsonne.  The bees are happily enjoying it now.  It is at least eight feet tall and gives quite a presence in the garden.  Will be talking about my trip again.  Thought my Herb Companion post would be up, but they are getting ready to come east to the Mother Earth News Fair at Seven Springs over the weekend.  I'm going to be meeting KC Compton, Editor in Chief of The Herb Companion magazine and Jim Long, a long time favorite herbal author of mine!  Got to run.  Decanting vinegar and making some new.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harvesting More Basil!

PeggyR from My Affairs with Art & Daily Life asked what I was doing with my basil.  Well, Peggy, I make jelly with lemon basil and cinnamon basil.  Here is the recipe I use, Carol.  It is from Renee's Garden.  I have both of her cookbooks.  I noticed in the above link it says two cups of basil or herbs.  In the cookbook it says 1-1/2 cups of basil.  It works just fine.  So 2 cups or 1-1/2 cups of scented basil for 2 cups of water.  I don't think it matters much.  I use the 1-1/2 cups (you don't use all of 2 cups) of liquid, 2 T. of vinegar and 3-1/2 cups of sugar as the basis for other jelly recipes.  I did a batch of raspberry jam and 3 batches of cinnamon basil jelly today.  Sort of tired!

Little Messy Missy, here is my favorite pesto recipe:

Presto it's Pesto
Cheap Thrills Cuisine by Lombardo & Bui
1993/Washington Post Writers Group

You'll need a food processor or a blender.  Pick 4 cups of fresh basil leaves.  (If you don't like all basil, try a combination of parsley or spinach and basil.)  Put 2 cups of basil (or a combination) in processor with 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Puree on pulse speed.  Add 6 (I use 2 or 3 at most) large peeled garlic cloves and  puree again.  Stir in 1/2 cup of pine nuts (walnuts are also a good choice).  Puree.  Add the remaining basil leaves.  Pulse until it forms a runny paste.  Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese.  Recipe makes one cup of spicy pesto sauce.  Try on garlic bread.  Use as a base for cheese pizzas.  Pesto is great as a flavor enhancer for sauces.  I sometimes freeze this recipe in ice cube trays.  If you do that, I would leave out the Parmesan cheese and add a little to the cubes once they are thawed.

Here is a link to find more Cheap Thrills Cuisine recipes on  You can't find recipes by type just date.  It is fun to click through the different days.  I like the recipes because they are quick and easy and sometimes for a big group, but a lot are low fat or low carb or just for 2.
The 'Boxwood' basil in the photo above will be made into vinegar.  Just sterilize a quart canning jar by putting boiling water in it for 10 minutes.  Then you want to clip the basil and wash it and dry it very well and then place it in the jar and then cover with red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.  Put some plastic wrap between the jar and the lid and put it on a sunny windowsill for at least two weeks and start testing for taste.  Well, I hope you have had a really great day!  Mine has been very busy.  Glad I found the pesto recipe.  I was using it as a bookmark in my garlic cookbook!  Just where I thought it would be!  Ha!  Talk to you later!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Four and One-Half Cups Exactly!

The Herbal Husband is always asking how much of an herb do you need for a recipe of jelly.  I need one cup and a half for most recipes.  What is that though?  Until you strip the leaves from the stems, you have no idea how much of an herb it will take to make one recipe.  Well, this pile of lemon basil is three recipes exactly!  It will never happen again.  Tomorrow I'll cut the rest of the cinnamon basil.  It is starting to get cool at night and basil doesn't like it in the 40's!  Hope you enjoyed your day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sometimes It's All About the Food!-English Style

This was my first dinner on the first night at the Ramada Grange Hotel.  It was chicken, green beans and a potato cake.  I enjoyed it a little too much.  I even had dessert!  You'll have to take my word for it.  Didn't get a photo of that!  My English Herbal Companion had salmon with noodles.
Food is always an enjoyable part of a vacation.  Since I have lost weight, I have worked to change my eating habits.  Some times it worked, some times I just indulged!  I have been working to walk off the extra calories!  Hope you are having a good day.  Speaking of food, I'm off to make lunch.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cheep Rooms on Thursdays!

Found this cheep room in a mighty English oak tree on the property where we stayed outside Bristol, England.  This tree was as enormous as the yew tree was in my previous post!  Raining outside FINALLY!  We really need the rain.  May get an inch.  Keeping fingers crossed.  Got to run.  Going to see George Clooney in The American.  The movie was very good.  Beautiful views of Italy and George.  Not a romantic comedy, but even a suspenseful movie with George is great!  There is romance, but not a lot of laughing.  The Herbal Husband thought that George wasn't the right fit, but I enjoyed him!  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Herbal Husband Wanted You to See This!

This is a hot pepper from Peru that The Herbal Husband wanted you to see!  It needs a longer season than we can give it.  Although this summer was hot, hot and hot, the plant is in a container so the plant gets the heat inside when it gets cooler, like now.  If you leave the seeds and ribs inside, it is very hot, but The Herbal Husband made a salsa with onions and oil and vinegar and the pepper without the seeds and ribs.  He said it was very tasty, but not too hot!  I'll take his word for it!
Then moving on to the bean production!  It has been amazing.  I had to leave The Herbal Husband my Preserving book from Time/Life Books.  He actually blanched and froze the bean production while I was gone!  Good job sweetie! Did another two batches of raspberry jam this morning!  Hope your harvest is going well.  The weather is beautiful here.  Love, love the fall in western Pennsylvania.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back in the Herb Garden!

Not only are the garlic chives blooming, but so are the curly or corkscrew chives (Allium senescens glaucum).  The pink or mauve flowers in the middle of the photo.  I'm also seeing a rebloom on the 'Hidcote' and some other lavenders.  You can sort of see that on the edge of the photo.  I want to get out in the garden since it isn't 90 degrees and I can edit some of the ornamental grasses that have popped up!  Edit being a nicer word for pull out!  Hope you are all having a great day!  I promise more England adventures.  Talk to you later.  The herb garden is calling!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quite A Home Away From Home!


Not your typical Ramada!  This was a 19th Bath stone manor house back in its day.  This was the first stop on my trip to England.  Click on the link for the hotel's website, The Ramada Grange Hotel.   My English Herbal Companion and I stayed here for a couple of days.  It was very relaxing. 

This yew tree is several hundred years old!  What a beautiful specimen it is!

Maybe a caretaker's house on the property.  It was very picturesque.

The walls around the property were very old.  The English Herbal Companion and I thought this was the entrance for the kitchen garden.
Bad photo but we had wildlife visiting a green spotted woodpecker and a rabbit not a hare.  You will just have to take my word that the rabbit was climbing on and around the rumble of the wall in the back.   My English Herbal Companion will hopefully be adding her remarks to my posts when she gets back to Spain where she lives now.  More later!  Beautiful days outside.  Will show you the garden tomorrow.  Two more batches of raspberry jam today!  Talk to you later!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just Wanted to Say I'm Back!

Made The Herbal Husband some blueberry muffins this morning!  My trip from England started at 5:00 AM yesterday in London and ended at 5:35 PM yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh.  I ate "beef stew" at 11:00 AM and cereal at 8:00 PM in Pittsburgh!  It was a wild day!  Glad to be home.  Wait until you see the photos!  Got to go do some errands!  Will tell you some tales tomorrow!  Missed you and The Herbal Husband!   I had a walk in the mist and rain this morning reminded me of England!  Talk to you later!