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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Herbal Containers With Rain and Heat!

Some Years Our Patio Is Just As Interesting As the Garden!
The Container with Rosemary, Sage and Thyme is Wonderful!
The Pot of Herbs de Provence is Growing Wildly!
The Silver Herbs in the Gray Container is Doing Well!
So Exciting!  A Swallowtail Caterpillar Eating the Dill in the Container!
The Salads and Sauces Container Needs a Harvest!
A Nice Little Herb Garden!

I just can't seem to blog these days.  I think I am struggling taking and uploading photos from my phone and then getting the time to post something.  It rained so much that I lost herbs in the ground and now it is so hot that I have lost more herbs in the ground.  I'm at a loss for words.  So we have turned to the herbal containers that I made in May for the class with the Long Vue Acres Garden Club.  Ladies and gentlemen, the containers are looking pretty good.

Sage, Rosemary & Thyme Container

Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor'--Tricolor Sage (Used it fresh or dry it for herb blends, teas or potpourris.)
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Barbeque'--Upright Rosemary (Use it fresh or dried in herb blends, teas or potpourris.)
Thymus x citriodorus--Lemon Scented Thyme (Use it fresh or dried in herb blends, teas or potpourris.)

Hopefully I can bring this container inside and it will survive in a south facing window for the winter.

Herbs de Provence Container

Thymus vulgaris 'Narrow-Leaf French'--Narrow-Leaf French Thyme
Ociumum basilicum 'Spicy Globe'--Spicy Globe Basil
Satureja hortensis--Summer Savory
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'--Prostrate Rosemary
Lavandula angustifolia 'Thumbelina Leigh'--English Lavender

I think I will make a little blend of Herbs de Provence to give as gifts.

A Pot of Silver Herbs Container

Helichrysum italicum--Dwarf Curry Plant
Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten'--Berggarten Sage
Thymus vulgaris 'Hi Ho Silver'--Silver Thyme
Thymus pseudolanuginosus--Wooly Thyme

I think the only thing I would say about this container is that the wooly thyme was overtaken by the Berggarten sage.  So it was not as good as I thought it would be.  Otherwise the other herbs were outstanding.

Salads and Sauces Container

Allium schoenoprasum--Chives
Anethum graveolens 'Fernleaf'--Dwarf dill
Poterium saguisorba--Salad Burnet
Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa--French Tarragon

There was also a choice between Anthriscus cerefolium chervil or Coriandrum sativum cilantro and neither of those survived for too long in the container.  They are both short lived even in a container.  You can dry everything remaining in this container for winter use with the exception of the French tarragon that I would preserve in vinegar and then you can use the tarragon in the vinegar like you would use fresh.

So as you can plainly see, my herbs in containers were a success.  BTW, they do get morning sun and afternoon shade most days.  Most of my mints did very well too.  That is the only place for mint is in a container!

As August (Wow!) approaches, you should have been harvesting in your herb garden and your herbal containers throughout the season.  If you are just starting now as it looks like I am, never fear just take it container by container and look for recipes on this blog or another favorite herb site.  Here is a post I did in August last year with a lot of links you can use called Herbal Harvesting and Preserving Again!

Around the middle of August you should start thinking about herbs you would like to bring inside (lemon verbena, rosemarys or scented geraniums) in containers that will not survive winter.  It is tough to dig them out when they are going so well, but you should at least have a game plan.

So that's your pep talk, herbally speaking!  That was what I needed!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  We are still hot here, but it is finally summer!  Tomatoes are finally ripening and the 'Fish' pepper that we are growing for the Herb Society of America and the 2016 Herb of the Year finally has multiple peppers on it finally.  I will talk about that next time or maybe the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory.  Talk to you later! 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Tale of Two Herb Gardens!

I Was Going to Talk About This Herb, Yerba Buena in the savory family!
Not a Good Year for Basil in the Herb Garden, My African Blue Basil Bit the Dust!

This Was One of My Favorites, Curry Plant!
A Square and A Round Patch of Thyme!
My 'Mabel Grey' Made a Baby!
'Empress of India' Nasturtium is Blooming!
I Never Have Luck with Agastaches and This One is Blooming!
A Sunflower Volunteer!
A Swallowtail on the Butterfly Bush!
Not Surprisingly the Lemon Verbenas Are Doing Great with All of the Rain!
I don't know why I'm surprised by all of the plants that have rotted in the herb garden.  We have had a lot of rain concentrated in the last six weeks.  I think we had about four days in those six weeks that were dry.  It has been tough.  I have a particular spot in the herb garden that retains water and I will have to amend the soil in that location to help alleviate the problem.

Along with the plants photographed above, I have lost several lavenders and a hyssop.   I have also made the decision not to plant basils in the ground.  I'm strictly going to plant them in containers.  I didn't plant many basils this year and what I did plant in the ground has rotted or is doing poorly.

On the bright side, the pink flowered thyme has migrated onto the patio of the herb garden and has made for a random pattern of square versus curved.  Everything that has been planted in a container is doing well thanks to the loving care of The Herbal Husband.  Have I mentioned he does a great job? 

So excited my 'Mabel Grey' scented geranium has made a baby.  She (I feel as though I should call it a she!) has been very happy in our  living room window for the winter and she came out just recently for the five days of sun and no rain that we are currently experiencing!

I bought an 'Empress of India' nasturtium from DeBaggio's in early May and that is the only one that is blooming at the moment.  An enthusiastic parsley has covered some of the seeds we planted in their usual spot and I'm hoping that once I cut down the lemon basil that is doing poorly, the nasturtiums will do better.

Continuing with exciting herbal news the orange agastache I bought is blooming.  I can kill these very easily.  So it is exciting when it stays alive!  Most of our sunflowers are volunteers this year and the goldfinches are already eating the seeds.  Also discovered this swallowtail butterfly on what else but a butterfly bush.

Last but certainly not least the lemon verbenas are loving the rain.  They were attacked for the first time by the four lined plant bug, but they have rebounded and it looks like I will be making some jelly and drying the rest of tea blends.

Well, as you can see there is a lot going on and I need to write a bit more often.  Next time we will talk about the herbal containers from my class in May.  I have kept some of them intact and they look beautiful.  Also I need to keep talking about the Herb of the Year, Savory.  Hope you have had a great day in your herb garden.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Haven't Had Much Thyme to Blog!

A Bit Overgrown and Wild Herb Garden!
Please forgive for not blogging these days!  It is all I can do to pick raspberries and make jam!  We have old 'Heritage' raspberries and they are producing like crazy.  That usually doesn't happen this early.  We think it is the combination of the cold winter and all of the rain.  I had yesterday in my herb garden by myself and I did get some weeding done and found some impostors trying to take up space.

So hope you understand.  I have had some rot of herbs because of all of the rain and hopefully I can talk about that in a future post.  Back to picking raspberries!  We have one beautiful dry, sunny and not too humid day, so I'm going out to enjoy it!  Talk to you later.  P.S. I am always here to answer your herbal questions if you need it.  And if you are growing garlic and you are starting to get some browning of the leaves, you had better start to dig it up!