Category Archives: Herbs

BACK IN THE GARDEN

I’ve been gone the last two weekends

Which meant

No time in the garden.

It takes a lot to get me out of the garden

Two fall weekends in a row.

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But a visit with Harper & Henry

And the out-of-state wedding

Of a dear friend’s son.

Collided

Leaving me out of the garden.

While we were gone

We got a big rain

Six inches of rain

To be exact.

So the ground is just right

For fall rituals.

Moving things

Pulling up spent Cockscomb

And just generally puttering around.

This is the time of year

Where the present

And the future meet.

In the garden.

Spring flowering bulbs

Have started to arrive.

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Though the soil isn’t quite cool enough

To bury them yet.

My potting bench is covered with

Little containers of seeds.

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Glimpses of things to come.

And the Dahlias hit their stride.

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But the action isn’t all outside

Normally this time of the year I’m making pesto.

But our hot summer

Combined with my negligence in keeping the basil from bolting

Landed me with tons of bitter basil.

So there’s no pesto this year.

Instead I’m planning to freeze

Cubes of herb butter

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For winter cooking.

And the kitchen windowsill is filled with

Tomatoes in different stages of ripening.

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It’s a defensive move

Against whatever four-legged devil

Is dining on my almost ripe tomatoes

Every night.

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They get them just before they ripen on the vine.

So I’ve figured out just how long I can leave them

Then pick them before they are stolen.

Now I don’t mind sharing a few

But they are taking more than their fair share.

October

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You just can’t beat it

For perfect days in the garden

For relishing in a season well spent

And planning for the future

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Herbs, Seeds, Tomato, Uncategorized, Zinnia

GARDENING FOR GOOD

This summer I’ve been dividing my gardening days

Between two gardens.

It’s the first summer that Faith Farm

Has been an all volunteer effort.

It was a leap of faith.

What a fun

And rewarding leap.

We started the season with a plan

Put together by my fellow gardeners

Jim & Michael.

It’s an ambitious three season plan

Since we have a 9 month growing season.

We started harvesting lettuce

In March.

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And we haven’t stopped.

200 lbs of lettuce

120 lbs of gorgeous carrots

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More basil than all of Italy

and almost 900 lbs of cucumbers.

Wow what a year.

We have literally grown well over a ton of vegetables.

All of this done by a dedicated group

Of volunteers.

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Including a few Master Gardeners.

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Twice a week they harvest this bounty

And take it to Loaves & Fishes

Where it is then given

To our hungry neighbors.

Several times a year

Jim offers  gardening classes

To the L & F clients.

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And every so often

We have a Saturday work day

To catch up on the big jobs.

Yesterday was one of those work days.

We had an ambitious list

OK…we had an impossible list.

Thanks to a few new volunteers

We got most of the big jobs done.

Morning glories pulled off the fence

Before they set seed.

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Bolted basil pulled, dried and ground into mulch.

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Ground pecan hulls put on the paths.

And soil added to beds.

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Then there was the shed.

Michael spent the morning organizing it.

Thank goodness.

These are not glamorous gardening jobs

But they are essential.

And feel good to have done.

Along the way we made a few new friends

Loaves & Fishes board member Randi

Brought her family.

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Including her son

Who got to meet Charlotte

Our resident Orb Spinner Spider

She’s been “hanging” around

Since July.

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He also found caterpillars and praying mantis.

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It’s always a good day when you can introduce

A child to the wonders of nature.

And do a little

Gardening for Good.

Gail

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Carrots, Children in the Garden, Community Garden, Compost, Cucumbers, Fall Vegetables, Garden Planning, Gardening Friends, Herbs, late summer garden, Lettuce, Morning Glories, Nature, Orb Spider, Uncategorized, Vegetables

THE BASIL RITUAL

There’s a rhythm about fall that seems to be well, common.

At least among my friends.

With our first freeze predicted for Halloween

I began cutting basil on Thursday

And again on Friday.

Buckets of basil.

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I always plant too much

Which means I have basil to spare

For months on end.

I use it during the growing season.

But by October it’s giant and going to seed everywhere.

Yet I feel that none of it can go to waste.

I either have to dry it

Or make pesto

Or find it a home.

Pesto is my first plan of attack.

So on Friday

When the weather men were issuing their threatening forecast.

My sister Ann called and said.

“So I’m guessing you’re making pesto.”

And I was.

She’s in the same place I am.

With way too much basil.

But she has the advantage of being able to feed her extra.

To her bunnies.

I on the other hand

Do not have hungry bunnies living at my house.

So when a friend dropped by with  a cape for Coco to wear for Halloween.

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She was rewarded with bonus basil.

Others who dropped by were also given the chance

But most declined.

I thought of bagging it up in little bags and giving it out

To the 400+ kids who came trick or treating.

But there might be potential for misunderstanding there!

I’ve now made 3 batches of regular pesto

3 C. packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 C. grated parmesan cheese

6 cloves chopped garlic

6 T toasted Pine nuts

4 T olive oil

Put all ingredients into food processor.

Pulse till well chopped but not a puree.

Spray ice-cube tray with non-stick cooking spray.

Freeze.  Then store cubes in plastic bag.

It’s about a tablespoon or 2 of pesto.

And a couple of roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto.

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3 medium red bell peppers 0r 1 jar .

12 sun-dried tomatoes – soaked and drained

1 clove garlic chopped

3 T roasted pine nuts.

a handful of fresh basil leaves.

A handful of fresh Italian parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

2 T grated parmesan cheese.

Prepare like basil pesto

I’ve also been roasting and freezing the last of the ripe tomatoes.

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All of which is giving our house

A rather Italian aroma.

Now…what to do with all those

Peppers and green tomatoes.

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And in the end

It didn’t even freeze!

Gail

The other fall ritual I love

Is sharing plants with friends

Kay and Tori came by on Saturday morning.

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To dig the last of the ferns.

New plans for this area

Come spring.

 

 

 

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Filed under Basil, Fall Vegetables, Gardening Friends, Green Tomatoes, Herbs, Peppers, Pesto, Pettit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables

IT’S HERE

It arrived over the weekend.

A bit later than the lunar calendar

But you could feel it in the air

Cool

Crisp

Fall

I love this time of year.

Beginning in August

We can hear the high school band

Practicing each morning

Soon after

It’s the sound of the Friday night football crowd.

Shortly after that

The whistle of the train in the park

Is silenced.

It’s the seasonal rhythm

Of the sounds of my backyard.

The change of season

Is also happening

In my garden.

Monarch butterflies

Stop for nectar

On their way home for the winter.

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Others flitter about.

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The roses give us another burst of bloom.

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Praying mantis appear

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Along with some of spring’s lady bugs.

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Dahlias are glorious in this weather.

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And we all know what happens to cockscomb in the fall.

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Basil is reaching for the sky

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Which means it’s pesto making time.

Peppers finally begin to come on

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And speaking of obstinate vegetables

Tomatoes are happy!

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So am I.

Hope you have a happy fall week.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, Bugs, Butterflies, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Fall Vegetables, Herbs, Lady Bugs, Peppers, roses, Uncategorized, Vegetables

SHARING SEASON

Gardeners are known for sharing.

They love to share

Information

Plants

Flowers

Seeds

Cuttings

And, of course, the bounty of their gardens.

Zucchini comes to mind.

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For me it’s all of the above

But mostly flowers.

I have long contended that flowers

“Are food for the soul”.

That we need flowers

Just like we need food.

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I think this goes back to college

And John.

When we first began dating

He brought me flowers several times a week

For months on end.

The most spectacular was that first spring.

He brought me an enormous bouquet

Of Iris.

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Years later I realized that florists don’t sell that kind of Iris.

You know them – German Bearded Iris.

The kind that grow in little old ladies gardens

In college towns.

I’m not sure she intended to share!

His choice of vases was most unique.

A plastic pumpkin

Left from Halloween.

Simply had to marry the guy after that!

And so in the ensuing 40+ years

I’ve made it a point to make bouquets

And spread them around.

I’m pleased to say that Elliott and Kristina

Are carrying on the same tradition.

Kristina rarely leaves home for an evening with friends.

Without a bouquet in tow.

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And she always has fresh flowers throughout their home

When we come to visit.

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I must confess here that this year my bouquets are going

Not to individuals so much

As to places.

On Saturday I pluck whatever is happy

For church on Sunday.

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Then during the week

Loaves & Fishes gets a bouquet.

A cheerful greeting for the volunteers

And clients who come in need of help feeding their families.

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Now all of this is well and good.

Lovely really

But it doesn’t hold a candle to the real pros

When it comes to sharing from your garden.

Those of you who focus on vegetables

Leave the rest of us in the shade.

Just this week

Kelly came by with a basket of green beans.

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Yum!

Earlier in the week the Koehns

Brought tons of cucumbers and squash of all sorts

To Loaves & Fishes.

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Mitch brought squash, too

Ann gave her weekly supply of basil

And assorted veggies.

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Then yesterday the fun and lively members of the Freed family

Called at the end of the Farmers Market

To donate what was left to Loaves & Fishes

I met them there.

Their 4 sons, daughter and her friend

Unloaded hundreds of pounds of freshly picked produce

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Peppers

Eggplant

Squash

After working at their produce stand all morning.

They loved the cooler.

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What a great family

Working together

Laughing

Sharing

Those are lucky kids.

I know

I come from the same kind of family

And it has painted my life

With sharing.

Gail

Early 1950's

Early 1950’s

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Filed under Basil, Bouquets, Farmer's Market, Flower Arrangements, Gardening Friends, Herbs, Iris, Uncategorized, Vegetables

PESTO TIME

Last weekend while I was far away.

We came very near to an unseasonably early freeze.

Which can only mean one thing.

Time to get serious about making basil pesto!

Every year I think I’ll get to it all along the way.

Instead I just go into the garden

And cut the basil that I need.

Then late in the season

I pick an afternoon

And make pesto.

That yummy herb paste

That can be used in well…everything.

My habit it to make several batches.

Freeze them in ice-cube trays.

Then place the frozen cubes in a freezer bag.

Whenever you need a bit of basil flavor

It’s right there – ready to go.

I’ve also been known to open up the bag

On a particularly frigid winter day.

And breath deeply.

The smell of fresh basil will take you back

To the heat of summer.

My preferred location!

I use the recipe of a family friend, Liz.

Whose daughter, Mary, is also a friend of mine.

Liz’s Basil Pesto

3 C. packed fresh Basil leaves

1/3 C. grated fresh Parmesan Cheese

3 cloves Garlic

6 T. Toasted Pine nuts

4 – 6 T Olive Oil

Juice of 1/2 Lemon – keeps it bright green!

Pulse 1st 4 ingredients in food processor or blender.

Pulse and scrape sides until well chopped.

How smooth or chunky is a matter of personal taste.

I like chunky.

Then slowly add olive oil.

Stir in Lemon juice.

Freeze in ice-cube trays sprayed with non-stick cooking oil.

When completely frozen remove from tray to freezer bag.

There you have it.

Summer in a bag.

I grow Basil everywhere.

In the ground.

In pots outside.

In pots inside.

Never want to be without the stuff!

About a month ago I started my indoor pots.

The plants are only a few inches tall now

But by the time the outside basil freezes

The inside basil should be well on its way.

Happy in the south-facing window

Of my toasty warm 2nd floor office.

I’ll also bring in the pot I had upstairs last winter

Which has loved being outside all summer.

I wonder how long a basil plant can live.

We are about to find out!

Hope you are enjoying these cooler days.

Gail

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Filed under Basil, container gardening, Herbs, late summer garden, Pesto

VISION

Three years ago Elliott & Kristina bought their first home.

To say they had “vision” is an understatement.

Their timing was incredible.

The house had been on the market for sometime.

The front had a mammoth awning.

I’m thinking it distracted couples with lesser vision.

Then there was the backyard.

It was….well…frightening!

But this is no prima donna couple.

They are after all, both descended from gardeners, farmers & ranchers.

They could see what it could become.

Vision.

Not everyone has it.

But they possess it.

And they weren’t afraid of work.

So they began.

I guess you would call the first stage demolition.

Thankfully, I’m a state or so away so I missed this stage.

There was not  a lot to save.

The decision was made to take out even the Aspen trees.

Since, though they are lovely

They actually are a bit of a nuisance.

A single wispy tree will turn into a grove of Aspen

Right before your eyes.

Great for mountainsides.

Not so much for backyards.

The giant deck

Was replaced with a lovely flagstone patio.

Carefully layed by Elliott with help from friends.

My parents used Colorado Red flagstone

Inside and outside the “new house” at the farm.

So there was symmetry here.

Meanwhile in my garden.

I was potting up babies from all over my garden

And buying a few.

By June my friend Vivi and I loaded it all up

And drove this garden to its new home.

The humidity in my car was stifling.

Kristina and I spent a long weekend planting away.

Adding roses and hydrangea from a local nursery.

There’s a saying about perennial gardens

The first year they sleep

The second they creep

And the third they leap!

Welcome to year three

We visited again a few weeks ago

What a transformation.

Perennials are oozing onto the grass.

Morning glories dance along the fence

Greeting each new day

Thyme suns itself on the flagstone.

Cleome spills over the edge of the narrow bed

And little juicy golden tomatoes grow practically wild.

Elliott seems to enjoy puttering around the yard.

Growing not only flowers,

But vegetables as well.

Kristina never misses a chance to make a flower arrangement.

Taking them to friends, her office

And sending guests home with a freshly cut bouquet.

They both enjoy foraging dinner from the garden

And entertaining as well.

This year the Kentucky Derby fell on Cinco de Mayo

Calling, of course, for a Cinco de Derby party.

It’s reported that a good time was had by all.

And…the creeping thyme can handle a lot of foot traffic.

Vision.

It brings sunshine to the world.

Enjoy this glorious week

Gail

Peg at the Morning Glory Gate

Peg at the Morning Glory Gate

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Filed under cleome, Flower Arrangements, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Gardening Mentors, Gardening;Perennials, Herbs, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Lupine, Morning Glories, Perennials, roses, Sunflowers, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables