• Last spring my garden is alive after along winter sleep. Plenty of work to be done. Planted many vegetable seedlings grown in the greenhouse. Lettuce, carrot (sowed direct into the ground), collard, kale, Swiss chard, corn, pumpkin, potato, beet, summer squash, tomato and leek. The garden is doing great. Just yesterday I harvested several zuccinni. Right away I made zuccinni chocolate cake. It is always a joy to be able to harvest from your own garden and cook with the vegetable that you grow yourself. Gardening is an excellent exercise for body and mind. Regardless how big or small your garden is.
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Grow Herbs Indoors For Fresh Flavors

Since there is less gardening to do outside at this time of year, there is more time for growing herbs inside.  Most herbs that grows outdoors can be grown indoors on the kitchen window sills where you can harvest as you need it.

In late fall fragrant herbs can be started from seed or by dividing a perennial from an outdoor garden.  As long as they get at least five hours of direct daylight per day in a room that stays at 60 to 70 degrees F. Many herbs will do fine indoors.

Annuals such as basil, coriander (cilantro), dill, summer savory, and perennials including catnip, chamomile, chives, lavender, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme, can started from seeds indoors in the fall or winter.

To start herbs from seed, plant seeds directly into containers in loose, well-drained soil.  A mixture of coarse sand, peat moss and loam works well.  Place seeds on soil surface and cover with soil about twice the depth of the diameter of the seeds.  Keep in a 65 to 70 degrees F.  room temperature.

Water each pot gently, daily, preferably with a spray bottle of water.  Cover with a wet paper towel until the seeds germinate, to prevent mold or fungus infections.  Remove the wet paper for a couple of hours and expose them to fresh air.

Once herb seeds sprout, put them in a cooler area  with indirect light.  Turn the containers daily to keep them growing straight.  When the seedlings have two sets of leaves, thin them to about one and one-half inches apart or transplant them into their final home.  Dill with a taproot, does not transplant well.  Fertilize lightly with a well balance fertilizer.

 

TOMATO SOUP WITH FRESH HERBS

Delicious soup bursting with flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried

5 cups diced fresh tomatoes (2 pounds)

1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

2 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoon sugar

Fresh herb sprigs for garnish

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, oregano or basil and thyme and cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Stir in broth, tomato paste and sugar.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer uncovered, 15 minutes.  Process soup in food processor until smooth.

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with fresh herbs.

4 servings

Calories 137

Enjoy !

Rosemary and Thyme

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Rosemary and Thyme

 

 
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), my favorite herb.  I added to chicken, pork, fish, soups, stocks, and sauces.  Also, it gives the home a wonderful aromatic scent.  Simply clip off small leaves and place them in a potpourri container and brew for a fresh outdoors scent or cut stems and use in floral arrangement.  In the bathroom, I used it for a soothing and aromatic bath, tie on herb bouquet (rosemary, and lavender) to the faucet with a string, water will pour over the sprigs as it fills the tub.  Lavender will calm the mind, rosemary a light astringent stimulate and  rejuvenate.  The sprig will last for about two weeks.
The rosemary in my herb garden is the Tuscan Blue variety.  Rigid upright branches to 6 feet tall grow directly from base of plant.  Leaves are rich green above, grayish underneath.  Flowers blue violet 1/4 to 1/2 inch bloom in winter and spring.  I notice that the flower attract birds and bees.  Plant in a sunny location, endures poor soil, but good drainage is a must.  I fertilize every spring with compost tea and prune lightly in the fall.

Ancient time England rosemary were wound around church pillars and branches were placed on altars.  I wonder if they still do in this modern day?  Another folklore I read, a sprig placed under the pillow would repel evil spirits and bad dreams.  Dried rosemary was laid in the bed linen to insure faithfulness.  Whether this is true or not it remain to be seen.

 
Thyme (Thymus) another wonderful herb. Excellent for meat, stuffings, soups, and shellfish.  foliage usually heavily scented.  Attract bees.  Grow in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil.  I prune in fall  to encourage growth.  You can also propagate from cuttings taken early in the summer. 
 
This herb plant started from seed,  slow to germinate,  I thought it will never make it.  Now it has grown large and sturdy.  A common variety Thymus Vulgaris,  shrubby perennial  6-12 inch high narrow to oval, fragrant.  Tiny lilac flower in dense whorls, June and July.  Good container plant.
Bouquet Garni:  2 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 rib celery, 1 sprig marjoram, 1 dried bay leaf, and 1 sprig rosemary.  Cut the celery into two equal pieces about 2 1/2 inch length, and place the herbs between them.  When tied securely, this makes a firm little bundle of aromatics.  Good for stocks and soups. 
Herbes de Provence: 
3 tablespoons dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
3 tablespoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
3 tablespoons dried savory
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
                                                                     1 teaspoon dried basil
Combine all ingredients.  Mix well and spoon into small jar.
Makes 3/4 cup

Happy gardening…..