Monday, September 30, 2013

Be Careful When You Hear That Word Redesign!

This Section "Redesigned" in Healthier Times!
"Redesigned" by The Herbal Husband and Some Wildlife!
It used to be that I was always happy to hear the word "redesign" coming out of the mouth of The Herbal Husband.  Now not so much.  It means that his exuberance for propagating is coming into my herb garden!  He has gone crazy lately for peppers!  In the second photo, the peppers surrounded the cinnamon basil.   OK, because now the cinnamon basil is done for the year.  Ah, but wait!  Now I have deer in my herb garden taking the tops off the pepper plants.  Thank God, they don't eat other herbs!  So be wary when the word "redesign" is used in a sentence with a fellow gardener who happens to be your Herbal Husband!

Hope you are having a great day.  It is typically cloudy in the 'Burgh day.  We have had a string of glorious days in a row.  Had to throw a typical day in the mix.   Talk to you later.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mostly for the Birds!

This Sunflower Head Was Half Eaten by the Birds or Squirrels!

Some Rather Big Slugs on the Leaves! Yuck!

I think this the 'Snack Seed' Variety from Renee's Garden Seeds!
Well, as the season is winding down quickly.  I thought I would comment on sunflowers and how much I love them in the garden.  They are like wallpaper when spread out in the garden.  I love to line them up in the back of our garden plots and they usually feed every bird, squirrel and maybe even the raccoon.  Yes, we definitely have a raccoon in the garden.  He/She made their presence known the other night when it beheaded the sunflowers and tossed the head everywhere in the herb garden.  Not a seed to be found, but plenty of mess!   I usually give my sunflower seeds for planting from Renee's Garden Seeds

Hope you are having a great day.  We have that big inflatable rubber ducky in the local river.  If you jump over to my Facebook page, Nancy Heraud, you can see it.   I'm probably going to get a closeup view later this week.  Will share photos.  It is Homecoming at the local high school.  Happens every year! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wrecked a Batch of Nasturtium Jelly!

I Understand How It Feels to Wreck a Batch of Jelly!
Had to Do a Redo!
Some of you think I'm a whiz at making jelly and for the most part, I am pretty good.  On Saturday though, I had a mental lapse.  Just when I added the Certo and was going to boil it for that minute exactly, I turned the heat off and the Certo didn't forgive my mistake.  As I was trying to come with something that would save the jelly, it just kept getting worse and worse.  So I feel your pain when you say that you don't enjoy making jelly.  I had three jars of a grainy mess.  I actually skimmed off a whole jar hoping that it would make it work!  Ha!  Well, on Sunday after having a brief discussion with The Herbal Husband.  He always thinks it will fix itself.  He allowed a redo.  He could see the difference between the good and the grainy jelly.  He said you need to make it again and concentrate this time!  So back to the stove and it turned out well the second time around.  So when you are having a bad day making jelly, just remember that someone who has made hundreds of jars knows how you feel.  Keep trying, you'll get the hang of it.  I promise! 

We are having a beautiful string of days.  Blue skies and warm temperatures.  We worked out in the front garden that had just gone wild!  Need to work on the front gate.  Hope you have had a great day.  Talk to you later. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Planning Your Inside Herb Garden!

The Only Way to Grow Mint is in a Container!
Most of These Mints Will Go Dormant and Come Back in the Spring!
Scented Geranium is Another Great Herb to Bring Indoors!
This Bay Laurel Must Go Inside!
Green Pepper Basil Comes In As Well!
'Grey Fringed French' Lavender
A reader wrote and thanked me for my list of perennial herbs.  She asked about certain herbs like oregano, chives, valeria (valerian), achillea, lemon balm, chamomile and lavender.  She has potted them up and brought them inside.

First, I told her to pinpoint where she was located on the USDA Zone Map.  I will say this to you as well.  Know where you live and how high and low your temperatures go.  It is really important.  As a gardener I always want to have an herb that I know might not get through the winter, but it is fun to try.  I have had hundreds of tender herbs die in my herb garden.  There have been many that have succeeded when I thought it couldn't happen.  That's the joys and the tragedies of gardening.  It can't all be good.  Some years it is not pleasant to be in the garden.

So I wrote to my reader that I would not waste my energy putting oregano, chives, lemon balm (If you can kill lemon balm, you should think about having an herb garden at all!), valerian or achillea into pots.  Depending on where she is located on the map, they may be perennial in her garden.  The only lavenders I would bring inside would be tender perennial ones such as 'Goodwin Creek' or the 'Grey or Green Fringed French' lavenders.  We have gotten them through the winter reliably.  They may look a bit straggly, but they do make it.  Chamomile is an annual herb and again, I would not put it in a pot to winter over.

You can see that we have a 'Green Pepper' basil.  Unlikely other basils, this 'Green Pepper' basil seems to be a tender perennial and that's why it survives inside.  It looks a little weak by the end of winter, but it bounces right back in the spring.  Another group of plants that winters over well are the scented geraniums.  I must remember to dig up my 'Lemon Crispum'.  Another plant to come inside!  I just love to smell their wonderfully scented leaves all winter long!  So you have the 411 on lemon verbena.  Comes inside, plays dead, just dormant and by February when the days start to be longer, they start resprouting their leaves.  Rosemary can be kept in an unheated room or garage.  A dry rosemary is a dead one.  They just have to be watched very carefully!  The bay is very happy in our unfinished basement and is 25 plus years old.  As long as you keep it watered, it is happy without very much light.  The mints are mostly dormant and you may think you have killed them, but they start sprouting in the early spring.

You must have a lot of windows in the southern or western part of your house or a great artificial light source for herbs to succeed inside in the winter.  We bring in only the minimum.  Some years the minimum is too much!  So I hope this gives you some food for thought.   If you are thinking of bringing other choices inside and aren't sure, just ask.  We are much cooler.  Been busy making nasturtium jelly and actually had a redo yesterday.  I'll talk about that in another post soon.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Lemon Verbena and Rosemary are Two More Herbs To Bring Inside!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cleaning with Mrs. Herb Cleaner!

Mrs. Herb Cleaner Instructing Us on How to Clean with Natural Products
We Had Gingersnaps with Pumpkin Dip, Cherry Scones with Lemon Curd and Caramel Tea!
The Village Herb Shop's Lovely Front Herb Garden
You all know one of my favorite places to visit is Kathleen Gips' lovely Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls.  So when I had the chance to be a guest and go with the Piccadilly Herb Club yesterday, I went.  Didn't have to drive although I had to be a backup GPS for our bus driver to make sure we got to Chagrin Falls!  We were instructed by Mrs. Herb Cleaner on the ins and outs of natural cleaning.  Kathleen always gives lots of information and has a great handout.  Mrs. Herb Cleaner was quite passionate about not using petroleum based products.  The best and cheapest cleaner is white distilled vinegar and you can fancy it up with herbs of your choosing, like thyme, lemon verbena, mint.  You get the idea.  Two cups of herbs to four cups of vinegar or one cup of herbs to two cups of vinegar.  We had a great time.   Kathleen is celebrating 20 years in business.  That is a very special achievement and she has shared her vast herbal knowledge with us over those years.  Thanks Kathleen for inspiring many of us (me especially) in our herbal lives.  Hot and humid today.  Storms overnight and tomorrow.  Cooler Sunday.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slugs 'R Us!

Gosh, because of all of the rain we have had and we haven't had as much as Colorado, the slug population has ramped up!  The Herbal Husband was picking nasturtiums for me the other day and came across these new friends!  Slugs 'R Us!  The weather is beautiful here at the moment.  Beautiful blue skies and sun.
Still picking beautiful flowers though.  Nasturtiums shine in the late summer and early fall here in the 'Burgh.  We will be picking until frost takes them.  More jelly to be made.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Making Nasturtium Jelly!

Setup of  Nasturtium Flowers and Boiling Water Overnight
One of My Favorite Ways to Use Herbal Jelly
I  am so organized every season for my herbal jelly making.  I count last year's jelly that is left over.  I calculate need for jars, Certo and sugar and then I get sidetracked with a new kind of jelly recipe.  Sometimes it's because I have an overflowing amount of herbs or flowers which is a good thing.  This one is a spinoff of a Nasturtium Jam recipe from Miche Bacher's beautiful book Cooking with Flowers.  I have my go to base recipe and I took it from there.  Before you begin, you always need to wash jars and two piece lids and sterilize the jars by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes.  You sterilize the inner lid by placing them in boiled water, but you don't have to boil them.  You don't have to sterilize the rings.   So here is my version of nasturtium jelly.

Nasturtium Jelly
Makes Four 8 oz. jars

2 cups of nasturtium flowers
2 cups of boiling water
2 T. of fresh lemon juice
Hot sauce to taste (I used 4 drops.)
3-1/2 cups of sugar
1 3 oz. package of Certo liquid pectin

Take the two cups of flowers and place in a lidded jar with 2 cups of boiling water.  Steep overnight.  Strain and measure 1-1/2 cups of nasturtium flavored water.  Put flavored water, lemon juice, hot sauce and sugar together in a 3 quart saucepan.  Stir constantly on high heat until you have a boil that can't be stirred down.  Take off the burner and add the Certo.  Return to a boil and boil for 1 minute exactly stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, skim foam, fill jars and put on lids.  Boil in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.  Inner lids should click down to indicate they are sealed.  If they don't, refrigerate those jars and consume them promptly.

This jelly has a peppery kick and a bit more from the hot sauce.  The first try I made was with 1-1/2 cups of flowers and 2 cups of water and it wasn't strong enough.  The Herbal Husband liked the second try more.  Although he said the first try was just a lighter version of the second.  So there you have it.  With thanks for the inspiration from Miche Bacher, I hope you enjoy making my nasturtium jelly.  It is a bit on the cool here.  Fall is definitely around the corner.  I don't mind the cooler weather.  I need a break from our garden.  It was more than overwhelming at times this year.  Praying for the victims of the Navy yard shooting.  Talk to you later.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Herbal Crunch Time with Basil!

Busy Processing the Last of the Basil!
The Sweet Basil is Turning Black Already!
Three of My Favorite Books on Basil and Pesto!
We are starting to have 40's in our overnight temperatures here in the 'Burgh.  Basil is not a fan of those temperatures.  As you can see by the middle photo, it is already turning black.  So we cut the sweet basil and I made my pesto recipe which I just shared in my latest post for Mother Earth Living.  I also made an additional quart jar of Phyl's Lemon Herb Vinegar.  Here is a link for that blog post called Preserving Basil:  3 Inspiring Ideas where you can find both the pesto and vinegar recipe and a link for Renee Shepherd's Scented Basil jelly recipe that I have used by years.  In my last photo, I'm giving you some of my favorite basil books, Basil, an Herb Lover's Guide by Thomas DeBaggio & Susan Belsinger, The Basil Book by Marilyn Hampstead and Very Pesto by Dorothy Rankin.  You can find any of the three on and at reasonable prices.  I also set up a batch of jelly and I'll leave you with a tease.  Will share the recipe next time we are together.

One of My Favorite Ways to Use Herbal Jelly!
Hope you have a great weekend.  I'll be busy making herbal stuff!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guest Blogging for Mother Earth Living!

My latest post is up on the Mother Earth Living blogsite.  It is called Preserving Basil:  3 Inspiring Ideas.  The basil has done really well because of the rain and heat.  Hopefully, my post will help you with some new recipes to preserve your harvest.  We are still in the ickies and stickies.  We have had so much rain in the last 48 hours close to four inches.  Still making jam and jelly.  Think I made my last raspberry jam this morning. :(  Between the stink bugs and too much rain the berries are rotting on the canes!  So goes our summer in the garden.  We had a lot of success and I'll share some of that in my next post.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget!

The Survivor Tree is a Callery Pear
When The Herbal Husband and I went to NYC in July, we did get to the 9/11 Memorial.  It is a very moving place.  The one living element besides the swamp white oaks just planted is this Callery pear.  It not only survived the twin towers collapsing, but also Hurricane Irene.  It is a survivor in the truest sense.  On this day of remembrance, let us remember those who passed away from terrorism on our soils and those who are protecting us everywhere not only here but around the world.

I have been making jelly and today I'm making an experiment.  I'll share if it turns out.  The ickies and stickies are here again, but cooler weather is coming.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's All About Sunflowers and Fireworks!

One of Several Sunflowers from Renee's Garden Seeds
A Native Sunflower
A Cute Volunteer Supplied by the Birds!
The Goldenrod Known as 'Fireworks'!
It is all about sunflowers and the goldenrod called 'Fireworks' this time of year!  It has become crunch time early in the garden.  It is supposed to be in the low 40's tonight!  Yikes!  The basils won't like that!  So I've been trying to get it cut and processed it.  Never an herbally dull moment especially this time of year.  I'll talk to you later.