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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

Gardening: (2016– )

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On ‎9‎/‎28‎/‎2016 at 7:36 PM, kayb said:

I had a weird thing happen with herbs this year. When it got hot and dry, my herbs (basil, cilantro, tarragon, chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, lemon verbena, a few others that escape memory right now), they all up and died on me. ALL of them, including the rosemary...

 

Hmm...I'm just guessing. I know you're an experienced gardener, so you may already know all this.

 

Have you considered this: in very hot weather, pots dry out on the sides, inside the pot. Then when you water, the liquid all goes out down the sides and the plants never have a chance to absorb any water. You can tell this is happening by lifting the pot after you've watered. If the pot still feels light, then the water ran out down the sides. This happens to me a few times every summer. The solution is to stick the pots in a pan or bucket of water (I use a clean, shallow dishpan) and let the pots absorb water from the bottom by osmosis. Then remove them from the pan or bucket, and water them as normal. You will see air bubbles coming up the sides of the rim, and after you water, the pots will feel heavy. The plants are hydrated again.

 

Because of the terrible drought last year, everybody here has become a plant-watering expert to make the best use of water. My landscaping guy taught me a system of "give it a drink, then give it a soak." First I water the plant moderately, shut off the water and walk away for 5-10 mins, then I come back and give it a thorough watering. This technique allows for deep watering, and the plant should be able to withstand 2-3 days without watering, even in hot weather. But the real test is to stick your finger about 1/2" in the soil. The soil should feel dryish, but not bone-dry, when it's ready to be watered again. Plants do need to dry out a bit between waterings, because roots need air, not only water.

 

Sometimes gardeners do a little watering every day. This kind of watering is less effective because the plant may not be thoroughly watered, and roots stay shallow to the surface. At the same time, the roots may never dry out for that needed bit of air. That's when the roots are wet all the time, and the plant eventually collapses with root rot. The best kind of watering is deep watering, with a little drying-out period in between waterings, which will encourage plant roots to grow deeply in soil or in a pot.

 

I prefer clay pots to plastic pots because clay pots dry out evenly. I've noticed that plastic pots, especially large ones, can feel dry on the top yet still have plenty of water at the bottom for the roots. So I do view my plants in plastic pots with that in mind. If the plant feels dryish on top, but seems to be OK, I'll might delay watering a day or two to make sure the roots dry out a little before I water again. BTW, plastic pots are prone to drying out on the sides and letting all the water run out.

 

The size of the pot matters in keeping plants hydrated. If your watering is fine, but plants are still drying out, consider moving to a slightly bigger pot to hold more water in the soil. Not too big a pot. A small young plant, with an immature root system, may be overwhelmed by a big pot of wet soil and root rot can set in.

 

Your weather shouldn't be too hot for the herbs you list, except maybe cilantro or parsley, which can be tender. Basil, tarragon, chives, rosemary, sage, lemon verbena should love the long sunshine. Lavender, oregano, marjoram also, which I grow. I've known these herbs to thrive in hot temperatures, 90-100, for the summer months, but maybe not everyday. Your summer sounds more like conditions in Southern California or the Central Valley California, with which I'm unfamiliar. The Bay Area (outside SF) does have some very hot weather, but also cool spells from the blessed fog. My garden goes through high heat spells during the summer, full afternoon sun in the high 90s to 100 degree temps for 4-6 hrs, and the plants do fine as long as they're properly watered. I actually wish I could give them more sun. They would grow faster.

 

But--If the edges of your leaves turn brown and crispy even if you're watering properly, then it's time to move the plants to a place with more morning and less afternoon sun. The root system isn't able to hydrate the plant properly, maybe because the plant is still young, or the pot is too small. But do allow at least 4 hours of strong sun, minimum.

 

Don't give up! Try again next year.

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Returned yesterday from a five day fishing trip of which four were spent in pouring rain and to put icing on the cake not a single fish caught. Still have lots in the freezer from the last outing.

 

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The garden is thriving:

 

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Fall plantings of kohlrabi, lettuce, daikon and watermelon radish.

 

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More lettuces, cilantro and dill.

 

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And finally this morning's pickage.

 

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Cocozelle zucchini, beet greens, jalapenos, dill, parsley, garlic chives, tomatoes, watermelon radishes, daikon, mouse melons, beets and in the center hot peppers (aji limo, habaneros, cherry bombs, hot portugals and a lone red jalapeno).

Those are the end of my beets and I have to admit I'm not a big fan of beetroot and grow them for their greens.

Over the next few days I'm going to start doing some serious preserving.

 

 


Edited by Wayne (log)
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Autumn is coming on but still some pickage. 

 

Herb beds look very happy. Still some courgettes coming - I picked some babies for dinner on Friday (cod with Serrano ham chippings, white wine, butter and various herbs, served with steamed sugar snaps (not from the garden), slow fried baby courgettes, and a baked potato) and paleo lasagne is again in the oven using up my last two whoppers.

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Today I picked yet more cornichons (I think I have figured out they like to start early, height and regular pickings) - I need to figure out how to pick small ones and store them until the pickle jar is full. Is it as simple as making a jar of pickling liquid and decant the liquid out as the jar fills up then repeat? What say you eGullet?

 

The rest of the haul today was a LOT of parsley and some green coriander seeds. I think I need a recipe for mass parsley as this bag for the freezer barely made a dent. Pesto like thing I guess?

 

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I also picked the second flush of asters - on the right in the previous photo. Here they are in a vase / drinking glass, with a stray scabious and the last of the zinnia...

IMG_7253 (480x640).jpg

 

 


Edited by Tere (log)
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3 minutes ago, heidih said:

 

 

 

http://awaytogarden.com/how-to-freeze-parsley-chives-and-other-herbs/@Tere  This post on Margaret Roach's site has the interesting frozen parsley logs   

 

Ooh - shows promise!

 

I really need to up my freezer game, currently it's full of bags of mystery and I need to get more organised. 

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13 hours ago, heidih said:

 

 

 

http://awaytogarden.com/how-to-freeze-parsley-chives-and-other-herbs/@Tere  This post on Margaret Roach's site has the interesting frozen parsley logs   

 

I use this technique for basil, tarragon, dill, parsley, cilantro and chives. I remember seeing it demonstrated on a PBS cooking program (which one I don't recall) in which basil was first briefly blanched, shocked, water squeezed out, the basil formed into a log with cling film then frozen. When needed a portion can be sliced off (much like a log of herb butter).

 

 

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I got some red sugarcane at an exchange last weekend. Hope to plant it in the next few days. Then, I hope to make my own rum in about 3 years' time...

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On ‎10‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 0:11 PM, Tere said:

I think I need a recipe for mass parsley as this bag for the freezer barely made a dent. Pesto like thing I guess?

 

I used to have a sorrel plant that just wouldn't quit. I blanched the extra leaves, dried them, then chopped them with oil in a food processor and froze the mixture for later use.

 

I recently finished reading The Culinary Herbal by Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker (2016, Timber Press). To preserve herbs, the authors suggest syrups, vinegars, herbal pastes and butters. They don't blanche the herbs for the pastes, and they freeze the pastes and butters.

 

To make herbal paste: Clean, de-stem, and completely dry approx 4 cups of herb leaves. Have 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup olive oil ready for use. Coarsely chop herbs in food processor or blender by pulsing with 2 TB olive oil. Continue pulsing, adding just enough oil to coat herbs and make a thick paste. The herbs should not be floating in oil. Pack in small plastic containers or ziploc bags. Freeze. The pastes should be good until the next harvest.
Note: For pastes that might be used in desserts or baked goods, like mint, lemon balm, or lemon verbena, use a bland vegetable oil or nut oil instead of olive oil. The authors like sunflower seed oil. They use sweet herbal pastes in making scones, muffins, pound cakes, cookies.

 

To make herb butter: Using a spatula, combine 8 oz (1 stick) unsalted softened butter with 2 to 6 TB minced fresh herbs. To keep the butter from freezing so hard, add 1 TB oil. Form logs with wax paper or plastic wrap, and freeze. Good for 6 months. You can slice off pieces without unwrapping the log; simply pull the spirals of paper or plastic wrap off the slices.

 

I'm thinking of making rose syrup from my heirloom roses next year.

 


Edited by djyee100 (log)
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If I may I'd like to expand this a little further into how to deal with a large quantity of greens, such as chard, kale and collards after the first killing frost of the season.

Generally I trim, blanch, shock, squeeze then package in an appropriate size for a pot of soup, a lasagna, a filling or some other application.

This will be my first year dealing with collards and I plan to trim out the stems, blanch the leaves, dry them and package them flat.

This summer I experimented with using the above treated leaves in the manner of Hawaiian Laulau which worked quite well and plan to use the frozen ones on a variation of cabbage rolls.

Any suggestions from anyone with experience using collards would be most welcome.

 

 

 

 

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Wayne, I can't help you with collards, except to say I really like to eat them. They are sturdy greens, with a strong flavor, and I expect that if you blanche them they will freeze well. I like to cook Kim Shook's recipe for collards that she gave on the Dinner thread. Here, Kim's post 6/22/2010:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143505-dinner-2010/?page=26

 

Yesterday was pickage and clean-up day in the herb garden. Our warm weather is supposed to continue, even hit 90+ over the weekend, so I decided to trim back plants and clip basil flowers to encourage more growth.

 

HerbPickage_3827.jpg

 

My system is to dry herbs on a plate on the kitchen counter, using the half-dried herbs as I might need them in cooking. When the herbs are completely dry, I store them in plastic bags or containers. Yesterday's pickage was mostly French and English thyme, with some marjoram and winter savory, and a single lavender spike, the only one in the garden. Lavender is supposed to bloom in the spring. This plant didn't get the memo. :D

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2 hours ago, djyee100 said:

Wayne, I can't help you with collards, except to say I really like to eat them. They are sturdy greens, with a strong flavor, and I expect that if you blanche them they will freeze well. I like to cook Kim Shook's recipe for collards that she gave on the Dinner thread. Here, Kim's post 6/22/2010:

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143505-dinner-2010/?page=26

 

Yesterday was pickage and clean-up day in the herb garden. Our warm weather is supposed to continue, even hit 90+ over the weekend, so I decided to trim back plants and clip basil flowers to encourage more growth.

 

 

@djyee100

Thanks for the info and link and I do agree that although they may not be to everyone's taste I like them.

A side note: when I was visiting my brother and sister in law this summer, in central Ontario, a dinner guest (friend of my SIL) and originally from Kentucky was over and she, over a gardening discussion, pretty much gave me the same recipe that you've linked from Kim Shook. On the list of things to do.

 

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Folks Iwould like to submit two pictures. The first is lemon verbena/ lemon thyme? I need help to identify it. 

The next is oregano. 

Both smell lovely but it has become suddenly cold and these plants will die. So I have harvested them. Now I want to dry them and keep them for the year or use them as gifts. Can you please suggest how I can use an oven to dry them and how I can store them. Any recipe suggestions? 

Thanks 

Bhukhhad

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30 minutes ago, Bhukhhad said:

The first is lemon verbena/ lemon thyme?

The first one is a thyme of some sort.  Lemon verbena is very different looking.  

Edited to add:  here's a sprig of lemon verbena from my garden:  

IMG_3823.jpg

My plant is about 5 ft tall.


Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
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@Bhukhhad

The first does appear to be lemon thyme and the second oregano.

They are both hardy.

I have both and they've survived and thrived through 8 winters (regularly get -20 C. days and nights) and I had a lemon thyme in the north that thrived through many a -30 C. winter. My main problem with them was keeping them cut back.

If I needed the herbs during the winter I'd just dig them out of the snow.

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by Wayne (log)
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Ok will remember next year. I think I mistook Lemon Thyme for Lemon verbena when I planted it. So i will use it when I have dried and stored it. But next time I will plant the lemon verbena. 

Oregano has been great. I dont like the taste of basil (go figure) -and I love the taste of cilantro (yes I do). So growing fresh oregano has given all my italian dishes a boost this summer. I do love it with yard long beans

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2 hours ago, Bhukhhad said:

 

Oregano has been great. I dont like the taste of basil (go figure) -and I love the taste of cilantro (yes I do). So growing fresh oregano has given all my italian dishes a boost this summer. I do love it with yard long beans

If you are growing oregano in the ground (rather than in containers) be careful - it is wickedly invasive. I planted some 25 years ago and now it is everywhere. This year it even invaded my vegetable garden which is a LONG way from the herb garden. When my husband mows the lawn or uses the weed eater around the edges it smells like a pizzeria. :blink:

Some varieties of thyme can also be invasive. Both are hardy here and our winters can go down to -15F or lower.


Edited by ElainaA (log)
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I'm pleased to witness this discussion because I bought marjoram, lemon balm, curry plant and oregano this year for the herb hedge in the assumption they would fail and clearly they shouldn't.

 

My next door neighbour gifted me with about 3 kilo / 6 lb of home picked damsons in the week and our cooking apple tree is heaving. So I will be making a LARGE quantity of this at the weekend http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/european/british/spiced-damson-chutney?utm_source=rd&utm_medium=d&utm_campaign=otn&utm_content=recipes/type-of-dish/chutney/spiced-damson-chutney.html . I have made this before, it's heartily recommended - great base. Up the spices a little if you are unsure once you taste - it does improve with keeping and keeps well but it's an old recipe from one of her original books and less spicy than she would do now I would think. Very delicious though. I was about to go out to forage for damsons in my hedges so he turned up at the perfect time.

 

 Given I also need to pickle the last of my cornichons, pickle all our swiss chard stems, and process the rest of the chard leaves / spinach beet, I see a good day of work ahead on Sunday. Green tomatoes next week probably.

 

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It's supposed to get cold tomorrow night, so I spent a good half hour bringing in tomatoes from the balcony and dealing with the plants.  The artichokes are beautiful but no sign of any flower stalks.

 

Best year ever for tomatoes that I remember.  My kitchen counter resembles the Nibelungen hoard.

 

And every time I think the okra have finally given up for good...they surprise me.

 

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The season is coming to a close. Cold enough overnight Monday and Tuesday to kill my basil plants. Still lots of tomatoes and peppers (started pinching off new growth two weeks ago so the plants can put their energy into existing fruit) and zucchini.

A late planting of bush beans is showing lots of flowers so if the frost holds off I may get a final harvest of beans.

Still have lots of kale, collards, chard, winter radishes, bok choy, lettuces, and herbs which thrive in this weather.

 

 

 

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It's getting colder here too. We had our first, light frost on Monday night. Average date for first frost here is in late September - this is the warmest fall ever. Still, my garden is just about finished for the season. The basil and zucchini are dead and pulled. The green house tomato plants are still going strong but the fruit is ripening very, very, very slooooooowly. I've pulled and stored all the beets (not a good crop this year), onions (just the opposite - I have some as big as cantaloupes), shallots, carrots and winter squash. The leeks are still in the ground, being harvested as needed in the kitchen. The pepper plants which just sat in the ground without growing until late August, when it finally started to rain a little, now have lots of peppers. I don't see any chance of them ripening to red or yellow before a killing frost so I am using them as green peppers.

Now, it's almost time to plant garlic.

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One of the hard things about this time of year is saying goodbye to the fresh herbs just steps away from the kitchen. Some will make it through the winter, some will not.

HC

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We've gotten our first real rain today since last April. That's normal for our climate: no rain from April to October, with maybe a sprinkle in June or July. The rain is good news for us. It's fire season here, and the rain lessens the fire danger and brings relief to the birds and animals. Weather is still warm, 60's to 70's, and the rain will help us recover from the previous years' severe drought. Most reservoirs are still well below capacity.

 

People here plant in the fall to take advantage of the winter rains. Even though the plants don't grow much, if at all, they settle in during the winter and they're ready to burst out in early spring. This past week I did some transplanting and repotting.

 

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On the back deck, the kaffir lime tree could use some pruning soon. Not much fruit this year, but that's OK. Bay leaf shrub is doing fine, roses and lavenders are going dormant. Camellias are budding though the plants are still scrawny (the two very big containers, left and right sides of pic). The camellias almost died during the drought. They will bloom in the late fall and winter.

 

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Also off the back deck, roses on the left side of the pic, a patch of dwarf Greek oregano in the middle, and the newly transplanted 'Spice Islands' rosemary on the right side of the pic. The rain puddle is a welcome sight.

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