Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Night Photos: 2009 Garden Update #9 (The Herbs are Flourishing!)

herb gardenFor anyone who's forgotten (or is new to the blog) Friday Night Photos is a feature I started to encourage me to practice using my camera for something besides carefully staged food shots. It's fun, but lots of times the pictures show how much I have to learn as a photographer. Let me make it clear that these are not what I would consider good photos! I have a new lens, so I wandered out into the garden in the early morning and took a few photos, and when I saw the pictures I realized I should have bumped up the ISO (and a few were so blurry they were immediately deleted.) But even when the photos are bad, I do like remembering how the herbs are growing, and this year's crop of herbs has been stellar. I have two boxes (2 feet X 10 feet) with herbs, so starting from the west, on the end we have lots of basil. It's definitely time to give the basil a good trimming and freeze some basil, but I've made quite a few batches of basil vinaigrette the last month, so it's been a good year for basil.

Next to the basil is chives, an herb I only started using last year. I grew it along the fence first, but this year I moved it into the herb box, where I'm more likely to remember to snip some chives to use in a Garden Veggie Frittata or to sprinkle over some Tuscan Baked Eggs.

After chives comes Silver Thyme, which is the type of thyme I like most for using in cooked dishes like Roasted Mushrooms, Onion Gratin, or Farro with Mushrooms and Thyme. (By the way, thyme can easily be frozen and used all winter long.)

After the Silver Thyme comes curly parsley, a plant I've neglected a bit this summer, although I used some in Parsley Hummus and Bulgur Salad. Probably my favorite recipe that uses curly parsley is White Bean Salad with Tuna and Parsley, which I haven't made once this year!

And at the end of the first box we have a jungle of French Tarragon. I love this herb, but if you're planning to grow it, one plant will be plenty! Trust me on this, because for two years nwo I've given away tarragon to anyone I could get to take it. I love to use French Tarragon in Chicken Salad with Tarragon and Peas or Tarragon Mustard Deviled Eggs. I'll definitely freeze some tarragon before winter gets here.

At the start of the second box is a healthy crop of rosemary, which hardly ever over-winters in Utah (and I've been thinking about trying to bring it inside; anyone tried that?) Rosemary Mustard Grilled Chicken is my signature recipe using fresh rosemary, but last summer I also used it in a wonderful Zucchini and Yellow Squash Soup. (Rosemary can also be frozen, and it's nice to have on hand in the winter.)

After the rosemary comes flat leaf parsley, which many cooks prefer although I actually like both kinds about the same. I used this recently when I swooned over Fattoush Lebanese Salad, and it's also good in Turkey and Wild Rice Soup and Chimichurri Sauce. (I've never tried freezing parsley since I can buy it cheaply all year, but would love to hear how it worked if anyone has tried it.)

After the flat parsley is this Italian Oregano, which has smaller leaves and is a bit milder than Greek Oregano. I used dried oregano when I made Cannellini Bean and Sausage Stew, but I'm guessing that oregano can also be frozen and I think I'll freeze some of this for soups this winter.

Next to the Italian Oregano we have Lemon Thyme, which I just used in an interesting recipe I'll be posting next week. This is the type of thyme I'd be most likely to use raw, but it's also good in cooked dishes like Roasted Butternut Squash.

I just gave these marjoram plants a healthy trimming, which is why they're so small. Marjoram is something I hadn't used much until my sister Sandee gave me the recipe for Marinated Tomatoes with Parsley and Marjoram that breaks all the rules for tomato salads, but tastes so great.

If I was just going by looks, this purple sage would probably be my favorite herb, but it's something that I don't use as much as I should. Last year I did dry some, making Sage, Rosemary, and Garlic Dried Herb Rub, which I really liked. Sage can also be frozen, and you can also freeze Sage Pesto.

Finally, at the far end of this box is my very healthy crop of Greek Oregano, something I love to use in salads, although I'd say fresh oregano is an acquired taste. I've enjoyed it in Lentil Salad, Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Garbanzo Beans, and Greek-Style Roasted Mushrooms.

I do have a few more herbs growing along my fence, including dill, Golden Oregano, and of course, the ever-hardy mint, and this year I planted a lavender plant in one of my flower beds. As you can probably tell, I love having herbs in the garden, even when the photos don't turn out to be that great! If you have a garden, what herbs do you like to grow?
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28 comments:

  1. I love how determined your herbs were to survive and thrive through all of the construction this summer! I'm (literally) green with envy.

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  2. I really enjoy your blog, and have followed it for quite awhile. I like the low-carb recipes, as I am diabetic.

    If you would like to play with your camera somemore please join us at Sunday Stills, a photo challenge site, and we have lots of fun. :)

    http://sundaystills.wordpress.com/

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  3. Your herb garden is beautiful. That is something I want to do next year. I do have herbs scattered here and there--especially Dill. I love Dill in many recipes, but especially in Egg Salad. I dried a couple Bell freezer jars full of Dill Weed and am waiting on the plants to dry now to save some seed.

    Thank you for taking the time to post the pictures and the recipes and to do all you do. Joan

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  4. I am so envious of your beautiful herbs. I live in NC and each year have the same sad story. Huge, ugly caterpillers devour my sage and parsley almost overnight and spider mite takes care of the rosemary and thyme. Annoying and expensive since I use herbs a lot and have to buy them. I don't like to spray them since they are to be eaten.

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  5. Beautiful photos! You've inspired me to add more herbs to my garden next season. I grow chives, mostly for their pretty 'purple puff ball' flowers, but I haven't tried many others yet. I'm thinking the purple sage you have would look great in my flower garden, even if I don't get around to eating it!

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  6. Kalyn,
    Next year plant some garlic chives - they're wonderful with egg dishes. And have you ever fried sage leaves?

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  7. The herbs were certainly persistant weren't they! I'm happy for that, no question.

    dibear, thanks for the invite. I'll take a look at it.

    Joan, glad you like the pictures. I love dill too, I need a new location for my dill though.

    Janet, so sad! Have you tried mixing some dishwashing soap with water and spraying the plants with it. I know that will deter a lot of creatures and it washes right off the plants.

    Deena, I love the chive flowers too. They're edible but I've never cooked anything with them. I had that same thought about the purple save, and it's so hardy I'm thinking I might move those plants into a flower bed and put some other herb there.

    Kevin, I keep forgetting about garlic chives; thanks for the reminder. I have fried sage before, it's wonderful indeed.

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  8. Absolutely beautiful! Could you do a blog on growing herbs, how much sun they need, fertilizing, do you bring any indoors in the winter etc.. I am a frustrated herb grower! Thanks -- I love your blog!

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  9. Dixie, great idea for a post in the spring. A few tips until then. My herbs are planted in beds with compost-enriched topsoil, which makes a lot of difference, so enriching the soil is my first advice. Most every kind of herb grows best in full sun, but some (especially mint) will tolerate some shade. At the beginning of the year I usually use some organic fertilizer pellets on my whole garden, but I don't fertilize the herbs much except for that. I water every other day at the beginning of the year, but only every third day by late summer. Hope that is helpful!

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  10. Your container herbs are beautiful. Tried just 4 of them this year....okay...not so much growth but enough for a couple of dinners a week.
    Need to know how to fertilize them or something.

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  11. About the rosemary: you can pot it up, cut it back by half, and then keep it on a pebble tray in the garage or cellar where it won't freeze, but won't get above 58F. Water it about once a month, so the soil is moistened and there's water in the tray. It might die back, but come spring, you can set it out (covering it or bringing it back in when temps get too low), and plant it back in the bed when it's time. A rosemary cultivar called "Arp" is supposed to be good and hardy. With a tomato cage and some leaves piled around it, it might make it. (It's hardy in N Idaho, which is only slightly warmer than Utah. I've lived both places.)

    This year I didn't do so hot with gardening, but I did grow some tarragon, basil (purple ruffles is a great one for salads), oregano, marjoram, and rosemary. The rosemary loved the hard, dry, clay soil of the backyard, right along with the alyssum. Go figure. :o)

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  12. You mention you have 2 2x10 herb boxes - could you elaborate on that? I saw a Martha Stewart show where a guy showed her how to build a greens table with 2x4s and screen stapled to the bottom, is this the kind of thing you are using for your herbs? Is it a table, or do you just move boxes around? When do you plant them? Do you bring them inside when the frost comes? Do you start them in a greenhouse, or in a sunny window or outside? I'm just starting to learn about gardening, so forgive my lack of knowledge here... Thanks!

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  13. Annalea, thanks for the rosemary advice! I have an inside entrance to my cellar now (part of the renovations) so I just might try it. Not sure it is 58 degrees down there all winter though.

    Wanda and Lisa, I should probably use the word "beds" instead of boxes, because growing herbs in raised beds like this is much different than container gardening. Wanda for growing in containers I'd probably fertilize every other week or so with some type of water-based fertilizer. Lisa, I did a whole series of posts last year about the building of the raised beds (or "growboxes" as we call them in my family). Here is where to read about building the growboxes and filling them with dirt and planting. I can't stop raving about how fun gardening is with these kinds of raised beds, plus the soil is really rich so everything grows like crazy. If you have any questions about the actual construction of the boxes, leave them here and I'll ask my brother.

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  14. Instead of going to that expensive grocery store, I think it's great to be able to go that lovely garden of yours and choose from that wonderful selection of herbs.

    Paz

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  15. Paz, I have to admit it's pretty great. I do spend a fair amount on plants each year, but now that I'm retired I hope I can grow more things from seeds!

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  16. I recently moved to a coastal community in Oregon and want to grow herbs. We have a big deer population. Do the deer go for herbs?

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  17. Nancy, I don't have personal experience with this (even if a deer made it this far down in the city, my whole yard is fenced.) I'm pretty sure that deer will eat some herbs though. You might try googling for more info.

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  18. Thanks for your herb update. This is the first year I've tried to grow herbs: cilantro (failed) Rosemary, Thyme, and Basil. I just washed and dried my rosemary and thyme whole and put them in my FoodSaver bags to freeze. Now, on to freezing basil...

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  19. I am jealous of your purple sage - and all your herbs - what a magnificent profusion!

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  20. Your herbs look like a catalog! Not overgrown and falling over, and leggy, like mine.

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  21. Wow Kalyn, your herbs look great! I wish I had as much basil as you so I could make pesto. Next year I think I'll plant more so I can have a beautiful crop like yours!

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  22. Frieda, yaay. Love having those herbs in the freezer.

    Johanna, I do feel lucky. I love having the herbs in separate beds.

    Pam, I try to keep them trimmed, although the basil is seriously in need of a trim right now!

    Bruno, I buy a few plants for early basil, and then plant seeds for the rest. Cheap way to get a lot of basil!

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  23. I love your herbs garden. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. Thanks Helene. I'm so glad people like seeing it, even when my photos aren't the greatest!

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  25. Umm... Your photos are the BEST! ;-)

    Have a good one,
    Paz

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  26. I love looking at other peoples garden pictures. Gives me ideas on how to improve my herb growing next year! I'm planning on writing a how to grow: [insert herb here] series next year... I wanted to do it this year... but I just started blogging a few months ago, and summer is almost gone :'( There might be some how to prepare your garden for winter posts and stuff coming when its closer to winter.

    Thanks for sharing all those nice herbs with us!

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  27. You have a beautiful garden; it inspires me. I hope this year to beg my husband to put in raised beds. Our soil is so hard here in NC; it is almost claylike. You can't even dig into it unless it is tilled each time. What do you use for weed control? Does it go down before the wood?

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  28. Wendy I didn't put anything under the soil in the beds.

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