Tag Archives: oregano

2012 Garden Orders Placed

Happily, my garden orders will only be about $100 this year compared to $200 + dirt money we spent last year and the year before. The garden will be a little bit smaller which partly accounts for the decreased cost. The vine borers were so bad with the pumpkins last year that I’m not going to plant anything that they can eat. Hopefully a year of starving will keep them at bay, and I can grow some nice pumpkins again next year.

I have a lot of seeds left over from last year which helps too.  I only had to order one type of tomato this year.

Goals and Decisions

This year I decided I wanted to plant less types of plants, and to do more canning with the larger crops. I settled on beets, peas and basil. Beets because I like beets (and I bought a pound of beet seeds last year!), peas because you can never have too many fresh peas, and basil because last year’s crop was sufficient for cooking, but much too small to make pesto. And I love pesto.

I also focused on turning the garden next to our house into an herb garden. I just got accepted to the UMN Masters of Geographic Information Science, so I expect that the next couple of years will be very busy. I plan to continue gardening, but I want to reduce the amount of work it takes. I’m hoping that having an herb garden is part of that solution.

This Year’s Order: $101.23

The total isn’t actually in yet, because I haven’t bought the cherry tree, but it’s in the budget this time around and I know what kind I want. We’re going to get a North Star sour cherry tree. Here’s the rest of the order.

Next On The Todo List

Next up on the todo list is to clean my starter pots so they’ll be ready when the seeds get here. I also need to sharpen my lawn mower,  shovels and hoes. I bought a tiller that doesn’t start last fall, so I need to get that running and till the garden.

It’s nice to be working on gardening stuff again!

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An Early Freeze and Lots of Preserving

Last night was supposed to get down to 30 degrees between midnight and 8 AM. After debating covering plants and crossing my fingers, I decided instead to harvest everything I could. Between a business trip last Wednesday and Saturday, and the sudden need to harvest everything to save it from the freeze, there was a lot to take care of. In no particular order, here’s how it has been going down

How To Make Mint Syrup

  • 1 cup tightly packed Mint leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup syrup

Boil them all together on low until the liquid reaches the desired consistency (about 15 minutes). Strain out leaves, and store in the fridge.

It’s good, but more mint leaves would have been stronger/better. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to use it for, but it tastes good. We don’t use mint that much and planted this because my 5 year old likes mint and wanted it.

Making mint syrup
Making mint syrup

How to Make Sun-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

I halved this bowl full of cherry tomatoes and started drying them in the oven. I put the oven on the lowest temperature it could do (170 degrees F) for about 5 hours. At that point I transfered them to the dehydrator.

If my dehydrator had a fan, I would’ve skipped the oven.

Drying cherry tomatoes
Drying cherry tomatoes

 

Tub of sun-dried tomatoes
Tub of sun-dried tomatoes

How to Freeze Corn

A pile of corn, ready to husk
A pile of corn, ready to husk

Here’s the rest of the corn. It wasn’t all fully developed, but most ears were at least partly developed — well enough to make it worth processing.

Caroline and I husked the corn…

A pile of corn cobs ready to blanch
A pile of corn cobs ready to blanch

…and then blanched them for 5-6 minutes.

Blanching the Corn
Blanching the Corn

Once it has boiled for 5-6 minutes, we cooled it off in a sink full of cold water. The black kernels are actually purple, from the purple corn. We had cut out the couple of bad spots before the blanching process.

Cooling the corn in the sink
Cooling the corn in the sink

Then we cut off the kernels of corn, and put it in freezer bags. The cutting is easiest with a nice sharp knife.

Cutting corn off the cob for freezing
Cutting corn off the cob for freezing

Here it is, after it had been in the freezer overnight.

A bag and a half of frozen corn
A bag and a half of frozen corn

How To Hang Herbs To Dry In The Kitchen

To hang up herbs in the kitchen, I put up two nails near the ceiling, and made a loop of twine. I twisted the twine nice and tight so it was taut.

Drying Herbs In the Kitchen
Drying Herbs In the Kitchen

I made bunches of herbs, and then wherever I wanted the bunch to hang I would un-twist the twine and slip the bunch between the strands. The twisted twine would then hold the bunches of herbs in place without a clip and without tying.

A Twist Of Twine Around The Stem of a Bunch of Herbs
A Twist Of Twine Around The Stem of a Bunch of Herbs

The herbs should be dry in a couple of weeks.

Pickles and Pickled Peppers

I used the Ball Blue Book recipes for these 5 jars of fresh-packed pickles, and 2 jars of pickled banana peppers.

Pickles and Pickled Peppers
Pickles and Pickled Peppers

The Rosemary Came Inside

Rosemary doesn’t love the cold, so this guy came inside.

Rosemery In  A Pot
Rosemery In A Pot

Freezing Green Beans

The green beans that didn’t have big beans inside got blanched and frozen. The ones with big beans will go on a wire rack and I’m hoping that they will continue to ripen so we can eat the bean parts of the beans. The Internet promised me that they will.

Green Beans, Frozen and Not
Green Beans, Frozen and Not

Homemade Hot Sauce

I turned a nice pile of green serrano peppers into two bottles (and a little extra in a zip-lock).

Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt

I put the above ingredients in a blender, then added peppers and blended them a few at a time until it reached the right consistency.

As for the flavor, it’s DELICIOUS!

Hot Sauce
Hot Sauce

My Todo List

These squash need to sit in the sun for 10 days to cure. Their stems will dry, and once that’s done the butternut squash should be shelf stable through most of the winter and the pumpkins should hopefully turn orange by Halloween.

A Pile of Squash
A Pile of Squash

This seemed like the best place to put the tomatoes till I can set up some shelves in the basement. The tub made it easy to wash them at least.

The tomatoes will get put on shelves with enough air circulation and light (sun and grow lamps on a timer) that most of them will hopefully ripen. Last time we did this, about 80% ripened, 15% started to rot, and the remainder must’ve been too green to ripen.

A bathtub of green tomatoes
A bathtub of green tomatoes

Sorry for the extra long post, it’s been an extra long couple of days doing garden stuff.

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Planting and Transplanting 2011 Round 2: Flowers, Carrots, Watermelon and more

On wednesday we started the gardening day by planting Ryan’s garden. He wanted watermelon more than just about anything, and so we planted 4 seeds of [planlink p=74 title=’Moon and Stars’] watermelon. We had started some of these inside, but they got too much water (oops.) and died. His second most desired plant was corn, but we’re planting his corn at the community garden.

After the watermelon, we planted 1/2 an envelope of [plantlink p=75 title=’Sweet Treat’] carrots.

He then went off to play while Caroline and I transplanted more peppers and tomatoes. Mostly the same as yesterday, but also some of the [plantlink p=’76’ title=’Golden Girls’] and [plantlink p=77 title=’Beefsteaks’].

The garden by the house
The garden by the house

Once the tomatoes and peppers were transplanted, Ryan came and helped plant lettuce along either side of our paver path.

Here they all are, staked and ready to grow. Ryan’s watermelon and carrots are in the 3×3 foot square in the right corner of the garden.

Lettuce will grow on either side of the path
Lettuce will grow on either side of the path

Calvin has been asking for his own garden the last several days. He felt bad that Ryan got a garden and he didn’t. So we gave him the flower garden. He helped sprinkle the [plantlink p=78] across the butterfly garden strip. We also sprinkled the milkweed seeds I collected last year, and the freebie packet of marigolds (I’d link to it, but I can’t find it online. It is “Marigold, Burpee’s Best Mix”).  Calvin was plenty happy with this, and was satisfied with how much he’d helped in the garden for the day.

American Meadows: We got the bulk of our flower and lettuce seeds from American Meadows. They have a limited selection of seeds — you couldn’t buy everything for your garden there — but for most seed types you can buy in 1/4 lb, 1/2 lb or multiple pound sizes. I didn’t need farmer quantities of lettuce and flower seeds, but I didn’t want to have dozens of little paper envelopes sitting around either. American Meadows was one of the few places I found to buy in semi-bulk, and the instructions that came with their seed bags were terrifically in depth. I’ll definitely use them again.

Flowers now planted in the butterfly garden
Flowers now planted in the butterfly garden

Ryan came back from riding his bike to help some more, and so we went to fill up the front yard garden beds. We have wild strawberries in the front part of these beds, and we should get blackberries some time this week, but that leaves a lot of empty dirt for weeds to grow in. So, we planted the rest of the carrots, a row of bush beans, and the rest of our spinach seeds as ground cover. We also planted a row of [plantlink p=79] seeds right up against the house.

I planted sunflowers as a kid, but only the little black ones the birds liked. Those were the only seeds at our local hardware store, so those were my only option (I don’t think we even got a seed catalog at my house!). I’m excited to have big sunflowers that are going to make big seeds!

Ryan came to help directly from riding his bike, and didn’t want to take his helmet off. He kept it on till he went inside an hour later.

Ryan planting bush beans
Ryan planting bush beans

Taming Aggressive Spreaders

In our backyard raised bed we planted [plantlink p=80], [plantlink p=81],[plantlink p=82], [plantlink p=84] and green onions. The mint and oregano are both supposed to be terribly aggressive. One online forum writer claimed that mint can break through thin plastic pots and send roots down more than a meter before going sideways to find a place to pop up.

Oregano in a can
Oregano in a can

I don’t know exactly how much salt (if any) that sort of story requires, but I have heard that it’s a good idea to plant oregano and mint inside of #10 cans with their bottoms cut out. Supposedly this will force the roots downwards instead of laterally and at least slow their spread. If my yard smells like a minty pizza in a few years, you’ll know that this information was incorrect and insufficient to tame their spread.

Opening the bottom of the oregano can
Opening the bottom of the oregano can

Rosemary apparently doens’t like Minnesotan winters, so I simply buried the rosemary can in the ground. I’ll pull it up in the fall to take it inside.

The green onions were just grocery store green onions which we put in a vase, and let them send out roots. I’m assuming that they’ll take to being transplanted. I guess we’ll see!

Green onions in a vase. They sprouted roots!
Green onions in a vase. They sprouted roots!

And that’s it for planting until the community gardens open up or my berries arrive! Still on the urgent list is to weed the butterfly garden. There are tons of little green sprouts. I should pick them before the flowers start growing or I won’t know what’s a weed and what’s not!

Happy Planting!

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