Thursday, September 10, 2015

Three Lavenders Contained!

Green Fringed French Lavender
'Goodwin Creek' Lavender
Spanish Lavender
Since my lavenders in the ground didn't do well, I resorted to putting them in containers.  These three did just fine and in fact for the most part flourished!  As you may be able to see, the green fringed French lavender (Lavendula dentata) is in my favorite container of lavender for devotion.  That container sadly got a big crack when it fell because The Herbal Husband used it (without my permission) to plant a tomato plant that was way too big.  He has since mended it and all has been forgiven.  Happy to have my container back with the herb it is meant to have in it!

The middle lavender 'Goodwin Creek' (Lavandula x ginginsii) was purchased in the spring at Trader Joe's and it has had an up and down year.  I think just recently The Herbal Husband has been giving it too much water and it started to die back in the center.  He cut the dead bits out and it is coming back from the bottom.  It is a little too big for a windowsill so we will have to come up with an alternative solution in the coming days!  At least have it positioned near the western windowsill.

The third lavender is a Spanish or maybe a French one or maybe even an Italian one (Lavendula stoechas) but no cultivar name that I bought at Lavender Fields Herb Farm in Virginia.  They just put up their schedule for the fall season.  Getting back to the name, in the United States we called it Spanish, in the UK they call it French and in Australia they call it Italian lavender.  Whatever you call it, it is a very cute grayish green bush.  It hasn't flowered yet and I hope it will make it on a windowsill through the winter.

So it has stopped raining heavily.  Our figs have started to ripen finally.  We got the first of the green figs a couple of days ago.  We are going to have to start moving plants inside sooner than later.  Need to start digging plants up and placing them in containers.  I got a question about lemon verbena from a reader about what happens when it comes inside after doing so well outside.  You are doing everything right Penny!  So refer to the Lemon Verbena Fact Sheet on my home page.  Feels like I have neglected my herb garden this season.  Hopefully, I can get some enjoyment with the cooler temperatures coming.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you maybe!  Talk to you later.    

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Recipe for Tarragon Wine Jelly!

Love the Color of Herbal Jelly!
With thanks to the Chattahoochee Unit of the Herb Society of America for inspiration and from An Atlanta Herb Sampler, here is my version of tarragon wine jelly.  I tend to make multiple recipes of one kind in one afternoon.

(Make four 8 oz. jars)

1 cup fresh tarragon leaves
2 cups of dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc and a 1.5 liter bottle makes 4 recipes.)
2 T. of vinegar (I used tarragon but you could use rice or white wine vinegar.  You could also use lemon juice.)
3-1/2 cups sugar
A 3 oz. pouch of Certo

First before you start wash your jars and lids in soapy water and boil the jars in a large pot for ten minutes.  Place the lids in hot water until ready to pour.  You don't have to boil the lids.

Measure 2 cups of wine in a medium saucepan and add the cup of tarragon.  Bring to a boil, count to ten and remove from heat and cover for 20 minutes.

Open the Certo pouch and stand it in a measuring cup.  In the meantime measure out 3-1/2 cups of sugar and the 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a second saucepan.  Once the 20 minutes are up, measure out 1-1/2 cups of flavored wine, reserving the 1/2 cup for the fourth recipe.  Add the 1-1/2 cups of flavored wine to the sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil that can't be stirred down.  Remove from burner and quickly add the pouch of Certo.

Return to the heat and bring back to the boil and boil exactly one minute.  Take it off the burner.  Let it sit while you take out the jars and lids.  There will not be foam to skim but there will be a skin to remove.  Pour the jelly and remove any bubbles in each jar with a teaspoon and put on the lids and rings.

Place in a pot of water with the water covering the jars by an inch and boil for 5 minutes.  When removed from the water, the lids should make that popping sound that says they are sealed.  If they don't seal, put them in the refrigerator and use promptly.

Now for the fourth recipe.  You have 1-1/2 cups of flavored wine from the first three recipes and a tiny bit of wine in the bottle.  I was slightly short so I added a couple of tablespoons extra of tarragon vinegar to get to the 1-1/2 cups.  There is your liquid for the fourth recipe.

Just remember once they have cooled to label what it is because making as many different recipes as I do, they begin to look alike!  It is very hot and humid for September in the 'Burgh!  I have been picking raspberries and making jam almost every day for a while.  The Herbal Husband is watering at the moment because we have had no rain for quite a while.  We only had 5 days with rain last month and we are looking dry for the foreseeable future!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

HMIG, Herbally Speaking!

Just a Little List of Herbs That Died in the Herb Garden!
I have been just lamenting the fact that a bunch of herbs have died in my herb garden this season.  The acronym in the title stands for "Herbs Missing In Garden".

I had two curry plants die, two lavenders, one called 'Mini Blue' and the other one that I should not kill a 'Munstead', my favorite, lemon verbena.  We think it died from too much water and then no water at all.  Finally, there was an yerba buena that I was going to celebrate in talking about the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory.  Well, a talk for another time!

Didn't have many nasturtiums.  The basils got too much water early on and didn't survive.  Although I have one lemon basil that is making a comeback.  The 'Spicy Globe' basil in one of the combination containers did very well.  The "sweet" basil that I bought last year as a hydroponically grown plant has finally said enough and quit producing.  It said one year is enough!  Don't think you are getting more than that.  If anyone can get more out of a plant of any kind though, it is The Herbal Husband.  I always say to him just compost it and he secretly puts it in a corner and it starts to shoot new leaves!  We will see this time.
The Basil Finally Said Enough!
I will highlight what was great in the herb garden soon.  I would love to blog from something other than my laptop.  Will keep working on that as well.  It is getting warmer after I thought we were headed into fall.  Need to make the tarragon wine jelly and share the recipe with you.  Got sided tracked today with computer issues.  Hope you have had a great day!  Talk to you later.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Trialing The 'Fish' Pepper Plant for The Herb Society of America!

Still trying to figure out how to blog using my phone with Blogger.  Still not successful. 

Here is a current photo of the 'Fish' pepper that we are trialing for the Herb Society of America for next year's herb of the year as of August 26th.  It is a beautiful variegated tree or bush.  About two feet tall and so it is ideal for a container.  I would give you one caution not to give it too much water as you know who sometimes does.  It starts to drop its leaves.

A Beautiful Tree or Bush!
Up Until early August, We Had Just One Pepper!  Now Look!
I Think The Herbal Husband Will Be Making Hot Sauce!
Early on we did not have pepper weather.  For the longest time, we just had one pepper.  Since early August we finally have many peppers growing.  I think that The Herbal Husband will be making at the very least salsa for his beans and rice or maybe some hot sauce.  I will share recipes when that happens.

So it is a beautiful day here.  Actually worked in the herb garden getting out the weeds and the herbs that died including the lemon verbena.  I will report on those tragedies in a future post.  Hope you are having a great day.  It is my birthday and The Herbal Husband just prepared my favorite, causa for my lunch.  Makes me lunch and then cleans up too!  I'm a very blessed woman!  Going to see Man from U.N.C.L.E. and out to The Herbal Husband's choice for my birthday dinner, Olive Garden.  When I get the chance I'll download the photos from last night's dinner (my choice) at The Grand Concourse!  I was a V.I.P.!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Herbal Harvest Time!

Busy out in the herb garden working to harvest herbs.  Summer is fleeting and we are already looking like fall around here.  So the lemon verbenas got their trim and the stevia did as well.  What marjoram grew has been trimmed and placed between two paper towels and then the paper towels smell like the herb once the herb is dried.  I cut the tarragon back the other day and will make tarragon wine jelly with it.  Recipe to follow.

Lemon Verbena Drying for Tea!
Would Like to Have the Herbal Husband Using Stevia!
The weather is very dry but the second crop of raspberries has started already.  Made another batch of jam on Monday.  No grape jelly this year.  Most of the grapes have been eaten by the birds or rotted.  Hope you have started harvesting in your herb gardens in earnest if you are in the northern half of the U.S.  I hear the water flowing.  The Herbal Husband is watering.  Been trying the blog on my phone because my photos are on that device and Blogger is not cooperating!  Will keep trying and will keep harvesting!  Still need to talk about savory!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Even Lemon Verbena Lady Can!

Can It Be Dried Up Lemon Verbena Leaves and Branches!
Can do what you ask?  Kill part of a lemon verbena plant!  Yes, it is sadly true.  Someone asked for an update of the herb garden.  It isn't pretty.  So here you have some evidence above.

This was the lemon verbena that made it inside through the winter.  It is about half gone and will probably be the one to come back inside.

About Half of the Lemon Verbena Has Died!
Is there a mouse or mole/vole involved?  My herb garden does have a series of tunnels made by chipmunks.  Our feral cat population has taken care of the chipmunks, but others have picked up the slack.  So when you are feeling poorly about your lemon verbena, just remember Lemon Verbena Lady or an accomplice rodent can kill her favorite herb too!

Still trying to blog from my phone and Blogger is not cooperating.  If anyone can shed some light on this problem, I would love to hear.  We have the ickies and stickies.  Got an inch of rain last night and more to come.  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garden in the Parks at North Park with the Penn State Master Gardeners!

The Monument Area Where the Herbs Are Planted

The Herbs in the Raised Bed Are Doing Great!
Had to Get My Photo with the Beautiful Herbs!
Another Shot of the Thymes and Sages!
Different Varieties of Basil
The Herbal Husband Matches These Flower Beds!
Had to Get a Selfie with The Herbal Husband!
Well, fortunately I remembered to go over to the Garden in the Parks field day at North Park.  It is a yearly event where the public gets to come to the demonstration gardens and see all of the work that the master gardeners do in the gardens.  They get to try various types of garlic, tomatoes and basils.  They sample delicious cookies and ice cream from the Creamery at Penn State.  There are also various conservation and plant groups represented.  This is really a pollinator garden and there are butterflies, hummingbird moths, bees and other insects hanging out everywhere.  It was another hot but sunny day.  Here are some of annual beds of flowers.
The 'Golden Delicious' Pineapple Sage is Doing Very Well!
All of These Annuals Are Donated by Local Nurseries
The Zinnias Are Doing Well!
The Taller Varieties of Zinnias Were Doing Well Too!
All Those Blue Flags Means This Rudbeckia Was Popular with the Public
One of My Favorite Tender Sages called 'Black and Blue'
A Bee Enjoying A Celosia called 'Ruby Parfait'

A Hummingbird Moth Enjoying the Zinnias
I thought I had taken some of the booths with the basil, garlic and tomato tastings, but sadly I got photos of my shorts somehow!  Well, anyway, they had Gardenline folks answering people's gardening questions and they had tours of the flowers beds and herb garden with a bunch of tastings of herbal drinks and delights  It is a lot of work.  The Penn State Master Gardeners of Allegheny County did a great job!  The Herbal Husband said to me I always enjoy coming on this day.  Thanks for remembering!

We came home to find several different butterflies and bees on the white butterfly bush in the front garden.
Our Swallowtail
I'm Thinking This is a Fritillary?
And A Bumble Bee!
Well, I have been told that raspberries may have made a return to the back garden.  So I need to suit up and take a walk to the back.  The ickies and stickies are back for us.  Hope you are have a great weekend.  I will talk to you again soon.  Need to catch you up on what's been going on in the herb garden! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coming to Grips With a Loss!

My Cousins All Together!
This has been a strange summer in the herb garden and in addition, I lost my cousin, John at 55 to suicide in June.  I feel as though I need to talk about it and I apologize if you are hoping for an herbal post.  Maybe it will turn into one in the end.

You see I feel badly about his death because I don't think The Herbal Husband and I did enough to reach out to him when he needed it.  He loved his church family and his mother and sisters, but not enough to keep him on this earth.  As his pastor told me, John was a hard nut to crack.

He would reach out to us periodically and ask us to join him at church, Church of the Ascension.  Neither of us are church goers and I regret not going to spend time with him.  Sometimes we were traveling and couldn't get together.  He came to dinner at our house just once.  I wish it had been more.

And before this goes downhill anymore, the funeral service for him was the most beautiful one I had ever been to.  It is my hope that John was watching from above and saw how many people cared and loved him.  His ashes were placed in the crypt in the church.  A fitting place where he can spend eternity in one of the places he loved so much.  Thank you for letting me sharing my grief with you.  John was a character and very bright who will be missed by many.  RIP John.
A Sunflower for My Cousin!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Celebrating Seven Years of Blogging!

An Herbal Bouquet for You!
This year of blogging has flown by without not too much writing from me!  My blogging experiment started because of the Reppert sisters blog, Rosemary's Sampler.  They are still going strong and always an inspiration!  Hopefully in year eight I will be a bit more verbose!  Blogging from different devices from my laptop has proved a challenge.  So I will limp along into the next year and hopefully be able to improve those skills.  Thought I should do a giveaway of some kind to celebrate.  What do you think?

The weather is getting hotter again.  The plants are in need of water after the first half of the year was too wet.  It has been a challenge.  Will think of something good to giveaway and I will be back next week with the details.  Enjoy your weekend.  Talk to you later.