Monday, April 25, 2016

7 Herbs I Love to Grow

I have learned my lesson.  After months of keeping finicky plants alive only to find out no one in my family likes it, our plants now have to pass a multi-use test!  Herbs, on the other hand, are just plain lovely to have around, although I like them to be multi-talented, too.  Here are my top seven (in alphabetical order), and why I grow them.

 BASIL : Honestly, I love this one just for the scent!  But then there's pesto.  If I did nothing else but make pesto, we still could grow more basil.  We also use it fresh in pasta and in marinara sauce.  Beware, it needs constant picking.  

CHIVES : Let's start with, the bees love chives.  The flowers are lovely and are constantly visited by pollinators.  As far as culinary uses, we put it in Lime Chive Butter (great on corn), as well as in mashed potatoes, breakfast casserole, and when I roast whole chicken.  

DILL :  We need it for pickles, and it can be difficult to buy a handful of dill stalks.  I also put it in potato salad.  I love the smell, too; it's very aromatic if you brush by, and it just smells like summer.  
PARSLEY : Easy to grow, very hardy, still growing around here well into the cold season.  Our corn chowder, and mac n cheese, just would not be the same without it.  And we feed it to our lizard!  

ROSEMARY : Well, rosemary is really only a two-trick pony but considering it does not take up much space, it is worth the money.  It goes in a chicken dish everyone loves and mmmmmm focaccia.  

SAGE : I've told you about my sage before.  Like many of these little green darlings, it's just so nice in the garden.  Last year, I neglected to cut it back early and had some beautiful blooms, but this year it's already got a crew cut.  But to round out my description here, we put it mostly in scallop potatoes.  YUM.  

THYME : We have lemon thyme and common culinary thyme.  This year, I pulled up the common thyme plant, which is in the way of my new garden path.  I chopped it into several pieces, and planted it in a few new places.  It's a great ground cover, aromatic, and we put it in things like mac n cheese and roasted chicken.  The lemon thyme smells wonderful to crush in your hands.

We also have grown oregano - I'm still pulling that out every year, and mint - which I like in my tea but it only gets to visit in pots.

So tell me, what is your must-have herb or garden item?  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

mid-April garden report

For several years, I have been traveling to Stitches South in mid-April, and spending my free early-spring moments getting last-minute things done for that trip, often including finishing up patterns and working out social media ads.  This year, I had decided I needed to stay home and get some long-neglected things underway, and coincidentally, the company I represent (Windy Valley Muskox) also decided not to go!  Well that was easy.  So I've had more time to do some planning for the garden and yard.  I have completely failed to make time for this the last two or three years, and by the time summer rolled around, it was much to late to catch up.

Let's just call this the 'before' picture.

First, BFJ and I came to an agreement that while we do still need the fence around the garden (we no longer have a dog, but the boys play ball nearby,) it needs some repairs.  We've had lots of warm days in March and April, and have managed to tear it apart, but having lots of snow and rain mixed in means we haven't gotten it put back together again, yet.  I've got it partially painted and hope that it will dry out enough this week to finish that step.  The rest should be easy, nailing it back together and stapling chicken wire back up.  Previously, the fence was in the brown family, with paint left over from the shed, which I thought would "blend in."  Not sure that really was charming.  Now I'm repainting it white, which will most definitely stand out, but I'm hoping for a classic nod to gardens I admire.  As I was contemplating how to make this garden better than previous years, I looked through my Pinterest board, 'potagers and lovely gardens', and stumbled on the concept of "meandering paths."  Just what I was looking for.  Something simple, doable, but will add some much-needed charm.  You might notice above that I'm in the process of working the path out, too.

Next, seed starting.  I bought all sorts of fantastic seeds last year, and had some left from previous years, but did nothing with them.  One of my little cherubs agreed to use his science fair assignment to find out if my seeds were still viable.  We counted, labeled, wrote up, and then placed ten seeds each of various kinds and "expiring" years, on wet paper towels inside Ziploc bags, to see if any of them would germinate.  From 2006, we had a sprout rate of 50%, from 2013, 80%, and from 2015, 100%.  This seemed like a good sign so we made up little newspaper pots (recycling, you know) and planted all sorts of peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and squash.  It's been six days, we've got 6 or 7 little sprouts, but all envelopes say 10 - 14 days so I'm hopeful for an excellent set of beginners.  I'm also keeping alive the brussel sprouts I bought too soon, knowing the garden would be ready to plant at any moment...  

I'm keeping my eye on those lilacs and blueberries, and spreading mulch and pulling weeds.  As previously mentioned, lots of snow and rain have happened, and it makes one feel justified that one wasn't quite ready for spring planting, but soon.  I'll let you know.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

spring photography : knitting, flowers

Every morning when I leave to take my son to school, I think, "Whoops, should have grabbed my camera."  And then I dash off with him, and come back to different light.  Oh Spring, you are so lovely.  

I'm working on socks, which are going to have a different toe than I first began.  I finished a shawl, Mistral, and I blocked another, Shawl 2.0.  Words later; pictures now.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Super Furry Animal

On the photo list for 116 in 2016, #50 super furry animal.  I met this sheep at Christmas and tracked it down again in January for a portrait.  How appropriate that s/he is eating fiber, eh?  Yes, I should know if it is a male or female.  But I don't.

116in2016 #50 super furry animals