Thursday, June 25, 2015

Herb Harvest in Sewtopia

Sweet Basil

It is that time of year where I perform the first full herb harvest in Sewtopia. Despite the fact that we have seen little sun this season, I have a nice little crop of my regular herbs. Unfortunately, some of the new plants have waterlogged and had to be pulled. Lavender for example does not like wet feet. I will try a re-plant in the next couple weeks if things dry out. I have grown it in crocks before with decent results, I can move them out of the weather if need be. That may be my solution this year.
First Gathering

I like to pick after the morning dew has burned off from the morning sun, but ... well, what morning sun? So, early this am I am out with my scissors, colander and little rubber bands clipping along. Much of this cutting is going into little gift bundles for friends. One of my favorite things to gift, herbs. These little bundles are just the right size for cooking and some for a little drying.
Over Wintered Thyme

I cut each bundle and secure them with the tiny blue rubber bands that I save all year long from store-purchased vegetables etc. to use just for this purpose. I put them into a little measuring cup with a few drops of bleach to sterilize them, rinse them well. After I cut each bundle I give them a rinse off bath then a salt dip. Salt dip? Yes. I dissolve 1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt in 1 cup of water, heat in microwave for about a minute or two to make sure the salt dissolves. I fill a large plastic basin that I keep for this purpose or fill a very clean sink with cold water and pour that little bit of salt solution into the cold water. Now, don't laugh. That little wee bit of salt kills any nasty little hitch-hiker insect that dreams of traveling to distant lands. Another cold rinse and drip-dry in the colander before wrapping each little bundle in a damp paper towel and large zip-lock plastic bag for delivery. The whole business only takes about 30 minutes to process 30  bundles. 
A new thyme, it has a undertone of lemon.
  • It was my intention to make an entire side yard a fenced and formal herb garden, much like the ones in Colonial Williamsburg. There was grunting, eye rolling and ignoring involved. Now, to be sure, I have not entirely abandoned that idea. One day, someone will come home and I will have hired the job out and it will be too late to back out. Just saying. Timing will be important!
  • My current consolation are these pre-fab raised beds I ordered from Home Depot online. They were expensive,  they do the job. Not pretty, functional.
  • They are not holding up as well as I expected considering the price. The plastic has bent and cracked on one side of one of the beds. Spilling soil over the edge of the bed has littered that section of the garden. Shovels, braces etc. were required. Ugly, again not pretty, functional. 
  • Because these beds receive full sun, when there is sun, I will cut the entire bed (s) back this week, dry the herbs, make some infusions and experiment with herbal oils as well. The tender herbs become woody and insect laden if left to their own devices. 
  • Today We (Lucy and I) picked Italian Parsley, Sweet Basil, Two Thyme's, Rosemary, French Onion Chives and Spearmint. Lots of mint.
  • Also on the agenda this week, pickled onions.

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