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edibles

herb harvesting

For a good part of the summer the house is strewn with bunches of herbs hung up to dry. The children disapprove. The cat is reluctant to approach them. The surface below them gets messy.

I keep gathering the fragrant greens, excited by their fast growth in June, and tend to put off grinding and storing them in jars, a task which gets tedious after ten minutes.

By the time I finally resign myself to processing them, the bunches are crunchy and the herbs release their scent freely when crushed, trying to assert their flavors from a distance. The kitchen smells like mint, then thyme, then dill, then lovage, while, slowly, the jars get filled, labeled and stored neatly on the shelves in the pantry. Read more…

the makings of a vegetable garden

Even for those of us with a more relaxed attitude towards garden design, a vegetable garden demands discipline. For one, you don’t want to question whether the contents of your herb wheel are edible, and vegetable crops are energy intensive enough without unproductive demands on their resources.
The most important task in a kitchen garden is keeping it tidy: weed religiously and trim excessive foliage to encourage produce yield. Avoid diseases promoted by poor air circulation by respecting the plants’ spacing requirements. Read more…

sweethearts

Since they went above and beyond this spring, let’s talk about sweet violets.
These beautiful early spring bloomers love moist, rich soil and are quite sensitive to slug attacks in summer, when the bigger plants’ foliage gives those pests a place to hide.
Some gardeners suggest feeding them in spring and fall, but in my experience the last thing you want to do for those prolific seeders is to give them additional reasons to spread out. Read more…

marigolds

On 03, Oct 2016 | No Comments | In edibles, plants | By All Year Garden

Isn’t this beautiful? Few annuals are easier to grow than marigolds, a quality that makes them so ubiquitous one tends to overlook their genuine charm.

All a marigold needs is sunshine, everything else it will do for itself. Of course, because I planted mine in the vegetable patch, they were blessed with an extra helping of fertilizer and water and that made them extra enthusiastic. Read more…

pumpkins, squashes and gourds

On 27, Sep 2016 | No Comments | In edibles, plants | By All Year Garden

What would fall be without pumpkins, squashes and gourds? This year I learned, to my surprise, that if you leave the squashes on the vine too long, they’ll turn into gourds too.

I don’t have a lot of room for vegetables, and squashes are notoriously sprawling plants, but I still plant a few nests every year, because I like their flowers. Read more…

purple pods

If I knew how much I would enjoy purple beans, I would only have planted those to begin with. Besides being an attractive feature in the garden, they taste better and are not stringy at all, which is a blessing.
Of course the purple color turns green in the pot, but that’s beside the point. Read more…

garden imagery

There are the rare moments when simple images like these are more than enough to justify dripping sweat over organic fertilizer in 100 degree heat.

It rained last night, it was a powerful and earth drenching thunderstorm, like only summer knows how to bring. The sky was ablaze with white lightning and thunders boomed so strong they made the earth tremble. Read more…

beans

On 25, Apr 2016 | No Comments | In edibles, plants | By All Year Garden

I kind of planted the beans for their flowers, but they proved to be quite productive. The bright purple pods petered out and left room for the “Scarlet Emperor” variety, whose flowers are bright red and pods green. I really don’t like green beans, so this year I decided to allow the pods to dry. Read more…

mauve

If you were wondering what exactly the color mauve looks like, this is it. We know that because this is the flower that gave the color its name: mauve des bois, French mallow.

The flower has many names, the oddest of which is cheeseweed, a name inspired by the tightly packed seed heads that look like miniature cheese wheels. All the parts of the plant are edible, and this is fortunate, considering how prolific mallow is at producing offspring. Read more…

lemon verbena

I know, when you think cooking herb, lemon verbena is not the first plant that comes to mind. A lot of people, especially here, up north, where it is not winter hardy, may not be familiar with this wonderful plant, so I’ll do the honors.

It has the fragrance and taste of lemon zest, with just a hint of green herb, and it can be used in any recipe that asks for lemon flavor, from meat stews and salads to fish dishes, candy or sophisticated desserts. Read more…