Archive for the ‘Herb Everything’ Category

4′x8′ Community Garden in Owasso, Oklahoma


2014
02.14
TomatoOrganicStupice02

Organic Tomato “Heirloom Stupice” photo: Renee’s Garden

“I’m looking for some bush type cucumbers and green beans. My community garden is small and last year my cucumbers took over. This year I want to start with multiple color potatoes and Bush green beans.  

Question: best place to buy? Where to look? Best tomato plants? My tomatoes last year were way to big.  Looking for the old fashion bush type plants that produce without getting six feet tall.”

The 4×8 raised bed can produce a lot more food than you imagine. Because the cost of shipping and handling can be more costly than the seed you ordered, I’m sticking mainly with one seed company.

First, here are my suggestions for the crops you said you want to grow.

  • Potatoes – Try these small patch potatoes from Renee’s Garden. If you are ordering onion starts or seed potatoes, do it very soon for best choice. Renee’s Garden
  • Bush green beans – Seeds you can find locally at big box store or garden center. Plant a few seed every 2 or 3 weeks for a continuous supply of fresh green beans. Don’t plant them all at once unless you are planning to can or freeze green beans.

    IMG_4441

    Mascotte dwarf plants, 6″ long, thin green beans. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Mascotte – dwarf, 16-18″ tall plants. Continuous yield of crisp, medium green skinny, stringless 6″ long beans. 50 days. New. AAS Winner. Harris Seed or Jung Seed

Blue Lake – long time home gardeners have probably grown this old favorite. 6 -6 1/2” pods mature early and all at once. 58 days. Heirloom. Renee’s Garden, Harris Seed, Jung Seed

  • Tomatoes – Plants you might find locally at big box store or garden center. Space plants 2 feet apart

Celebrity - Compact plants produce heavy yields of medium sized tomatoes on disease-resistant plants. 75 Days. AAS Winner.

Jet Star - An indeterminate, 4′ – 5′ tall plants produce big yields of low acid, bright red 8 – 9 ounce fruits. 72 days. Heirloom.

  • Cucumber – Consider adding a trellis for long straight cucumbers that take up little ground space. Or grow bush cucumbers.

    cuc-slicer1

    Cucumbers photo: Renee’s Garden.

“Bush Slicer” – disease resistant, dwarf bushes, produce 6 to 8″ long fruits. Keep picked for continued production of tender, crisp, sweet fruit. Cut cucumbers – do not twist fruits from plants. Renee’s Garden

 

More suggestions for a small space gardens.

You will have room for more vegetables by choosing the plants ment for small space or container gardens.

  • Squash – bush type varieties of summer squash are easier to see, watching for size.

    zucchini-astia2

    Container grown zucchini is easy to pick. Check every other day to keep squash size in control. photo: Renee’s Garden.

“Astia” zucchini - French bush variety perfect for small space gardens. Non-rambling, early bearing and productive. Renee’s Garden

  • Turnips – Plant in both spring and fall.

“Mikado” turnips, Japanese baby globe-shaped roots with white flesh and mild flavor. Nutritious tops make fine cooked greens.  Renee’s Garden

Before you plant these seed, there is plenty of time to plant lettuce, spinach radishes, green onions in the space where tomatoes and peppers will be planted after the ground is warmed enough, 50° F.

Also, you can plant peas, bush snow peas or spring peas.

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Companion plant Italian basil near tomato plants. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Add Herbs. Buy a few starter herb plants to tuck into empty spaces. 2 or 3 parsley, 1 basil, 1 dill.

When your tomatoes are in full production, use the tomatoes and parsley to make Tabouli. Add dill to vinegar and marinate cucumbers. Sprinkle torn basil leaves over tomato slices or stir into tomato sauce.

 

The Owasso Community Garden consists of 34 – 4 x 8 raised bed gardens, 15 of which are American Disabilities Act beds, located south of the Community Center in Owasso, Oklahoma. Facebook

I am starting container grown tomatoes from seed.

My small space tomato choices:

Stupice – richly flavored fruits on 5′ vines. Great tasting 2” fruits and perfect for container growing or small space gardens. From the Czech Republic, pronounced ”Stu petes”. (Stupice may win the neighborhood first tomato contest.)

tomato-superbush3

Super Bush. photo: Renee’s Garden

  Super Bush – Continuous producer of 5 ounce   fruits on 3 foot tall plants. Good choice for containers and small gardens. Hybrid, disease resistant. 

Both tomato varieties are from Renee’s Garden

← This is the photo that convinced me to grow Super Bush.

 

BUILD A BED

Use concrete blocks to build a raised bed. Quick, easy, lasts forever. Grow a theme garden. This one is a spaghetti sauce garden.

A 4′ x 4′ raised bed is big enough to grow enough produce to make fresh spaghetti sauce and freeze or can a few jars for winter.

Build a spaghetti sauce theme garden in a 4′ x 4′ concrete block raised bed.

 

Herb Vinegars


2014
02.05

Make extra for gifts

Buy this at the store and it could cost you $20. Make it at home for pennies. Plus, your custom blend always tastes better.

Finally! It’s time to fill you salad bowl with home-grown greens. I love those little bitty butter lettuces, so tender and perfect. Place the whole head of butter lettuce in each salad bowl. Get a jump on spring with this selection of lettuces.

tarragon Begin adding layers of flavor in your herb vinegar by adding more herbs as they each become plentiful. Start with a good vinegar. If it doesn’t taste good now, it won’t get any better with the addition of herbs. Stock up on your own blends of herb vinegar.

Tarragon vinegar is a popular herb vinegar and so easy to make. Start with a white wine vinegar. Only two items are required: tarragon and vinegar. More instructions are here: Make Tarragon Vinegar

Tarragon is a low growing, disorderly bright green herb. It likes full sun, well-drained soil. Adding compost in the summer and leaf mulch in the winter is all the care, this little herb needs.

Once it is well established, you have a bonus in the garden traders plant exchange. You must have a starter plant, it does not grow from seed. Rarely does it bloom, but the seeds are sterile.

Fines herbes

Fines Herbes – parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives. A beautiful herb combination for a container garden near the kitchen door. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

Tarragon, (Artemisia dracunculus

You must have tarragon or you can’t make Béarnaise sauce, channel Julia Child, or cook like a French chef. Buy a starter plant. It’s lovely and fragrant. Say hi to Julia for me.

Becky’s Flowers


2013
10.25

Delivered Fri October 25, 2013

St John’s Wort  (hypericum perforatum)

 

St John’s Wort  (hypericum perforatum) is a herb, sometimes it is considered a wild flower right up until the minute it is considered an invasive weed. The common name, St John’s Wort was given because it is usually in bloom during the summer solstice (dedicated to St. John).

St. John’s wort, a plant that grows in the wild, has been used for centuries for health purposes. I grow this herb because the flowers are beautiful. I do not use it as a medicine.

This plant cast it’s spell the minute I first saw it. Waving it’s petals in the warm, gentle breezes of late spring, I knew we were meant for each other.

St John's Wort

When I brought it home from the nursery, in a two gallon pot, it was covered with blooms. That was the last time it bloomed for the next 5 or six years. Since then, I’ve moved it many times, trying to find it a happy home where it can bloom and thrive.

For some reason, it began to bloom again last year. And it has those big carefree gold blooms. It is lovely, butterflies and hummers like it too. Becky, this is the flower I’m sending to you today. St John’s Wort*.

Imagine St. John’s Wort, golden as sunshine, with shrubby medium green leaves. If I could deliver this flower myself, it would come mounded in an old antique china tea pot.

I love this bright bloom. It just makes me happy to be around it. I hope you like it too. It’s easy to dig up and divide, so just say the word and I’ll send you a division.

St. John’s Wort is a shrub-like perennial herb and it can be invasive. So, be careful what you ask for.

St John's Wort flower

Some folks use this herb medicinally. St. John’s wort may help some types of depression and, it can also limit or increase the effectiveness of many prescription medicines. I don’t use this herb as a drug because of the potential for interaction with prescription medication.

It’s just beautiful and cheery in the herb garden. I hope I always have it blooming somewhere. 

Enjoy!

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date.

Becky’s Flowers


2013
10.22
delivered October 22, 2013

Borage (Borago officinalus)

An herb, borage is a sun-loving annual that reseeds from one year to the next. Once it is established, borage may be returning to your garden every spring. Even though it is an annual, it freely reseeds.

IMG_4194

Find two or three colors on one plant. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Each plant has dozens of blooms continuously all summer and until frost. In my garden, it tends to sprawl and reaches a foot or two in height. I love the periwinkle-blue blooms, a few of the flowers are pink, lavender and, rarely white.

borage bud

The dill and borage grow tall, perfect in the back of the herb garden border. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Borage flowers are Becky’s flowers today, each plant is a bouquet of  colored blooms.

The blooms are edible. Sometimes flowers are served on tea sandwiches, the taste is a mild hint of cucumber flavor. They can garnish a salad or cold soup. Candied borage flowers will decorate cakes or cookies and maybe cup of  sorbet.

borage

Pale blue to a sky blue in color, the sweet 1″ flowers are beautiful served candied and decorating the tea tray.  Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

In the garden, borage grows well in containers, bed and borders. It is a blooming delight, a little taller than many herbs, it is a good choice growing in the back of the herb bed.

It is believed to have originated in Syria, but borage has naturalized throughout most of Europe and the USA. Because it reseeds easily, you often find it near abandoned farm homes and junk heaps.

Bees love borage, it may increase the amount of honey produced in the nearby hives. Leaves can be added to green salads. Add sprigs to wine, cider or tea. Borage is a good companion plant for strawberries.

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date. 

Enjoy! 

 

May Day!


2013
05.01

To me, May 1st is a the beginning of the growing season, the get outside season. The mantra is “Never Waste a Day of May”.

We’ve had several meals with asparagus so far this year. The purple asparagus are producing more and bigger stalks. They are big, tender stalks that turn green when cooked. Infact, I am planting a few more crowns this year.

I paid for 2-year roots, Jersey Knights, but I don’t believe that is what I received. There are several female plants and the stalks are skinny. They have been growing for three years.

Read more about Asparagus on my hub pages and find great recipes on my Pinterest page: Asparagus Everything or just checkout my Pinterest.

Last night we had a salad of “thinnings,” mixed lettuce, baby chard and, arugula, a few radishes and green onions. How to grow and cook Swiss chard. Or checkout my gardening pages at Hub Pages.

Chive flowers are just a day away. Photo pbh

Chive flowers are just a day away. Photo pbh

The chives are about in full bloom. That means get the vinegar bottles washed and ready. Take advantage of the earliest herb garden offering, make several containers of chive vinegar.

Mixed Herb Vinegar – Put the pink chive blossoms in a quart jar and fill with white vinegar. I use white wine vinegar. Top the jar with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the lid from coming directly in contact with the metal lid.

In two weeks, taste and see if it has the right flavor. If it is too mild, cover and wait for another week. Strain out blossoms, cap and store. Chives are flavor layer number one. We will add more herbs as the season progresses.

The two small bottles in the middle are simply chive vinegar. Chive blossoms are beautiful but not here for long. photo pbh

The two small bottles in the middle are simply chive vinegar. photo pbh

Make more than you think you will need. The delicate pink colored vinegar is very good on it’s own. I use a lot of this right away on tender young salad greens. You get just a hint of chive flavor mixed into a light salad dressing.

Keep a few small, decorative bottles on had for gourmet gifts. Include a salad dressing  recipe card.

 

 

 

TOMATO REPORT

• Tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets:

  Gold Medal (75 days indet) Bicolor, yellow with streaks of red inside. Winner of several tomato taste contests. Early for a big tomato, sweet, low acid, 1 pound).
Pineapple (85 days indet) Bicolor yellow with red streaks produces big beefsteak type  1 and 2 pound tomatoes.
Omar’s Lebanese (80 days indet) Whileit has won size records, I’ve never got those giants in my garden, though it is prolific.
Hillbilly or Flame (80-85 days indet)
are planted in water saver 5 gallon buckets. All four of the above tomatoes promise 1 pound tomatoes. Read more: Best Home Garden Tomatoes: Hillbilly or Flame Tomato. 

Bison (65-77 days det) tomato is in a 5 gallon bucket over at Neighbor Dorothy’s house. Promises to be a heavy producer.

Though, bucket tomatoes usually under produce in size and quantity. The taste is true in flavor, tasting  like the ones grown in the garden or in a container.

• Tomatoes in containers (giant planters)

Great White is in a container along the patio wall.

80-85 days. Large, 1-lb giant, creamy white fruit, this tomato is superbly wonderful. The flesh is so good and deliciously fruity, it reminds one of a mixture of fresh-cut pineapple, melon and guava. One of our favorite fresh-eating tomatoes! Fruit are smoother than most large beefsteak types, and yields can be very high. Introduced by Gleckler’s Seedsmen. – This description from Baker Creek.

•  Raised beds in garden soil

All are heirlooms requiring sturdy support or staking. Good ole’ garden soil tends to produce the biggest and most tomatoes of  the 3 locations.

Black Krim (80 days indet) is one of the most popular black tomatoes.

Heirloom whose big leafy vines produce lots of slightly lobed deep purple/”black” fruits whose juicy, rich red flesh offers sweet and delicious flavor.  Described by Renee’s Garden.

 Carbon (80 days indet) is my favorite black tomato. The fruit are beautiful, lightly lobed and blemish free, heavy producer of  8-10 ounce tomatoes.

Persimmon (80 days indet) is new to me. 1 pound tomatoes are promised, meaty texture and mild flavored. Orange.

Costoluto Genovese ( 80 days indet) looks like an old fashioned, deep red Italian tomato because it is. Beautifully lobed rich, deep tomatoey flavor, great for canning, pasta sauces, and lovely on a plate of sliced heirloom tomatoes. Been around since the 19th century.

 

 = my favorites

Tomato seeds from:

Baker Creek

Renee’s Garden

Winter comes to Cape


2012
12.31

WinterBluSpruceThe first day after a snow is the most beautiful, isn’t it?  This snowy blue spruce has been moved so many times. It was only about 18″ tall when it was planted the first time. Now in it’s permanent home, the tree is about 5′ tall.

I've had this a little over a year. I got it out for morning coffee and a few minutes of prayer for our country and all out leaders. Do you think they can put the well fare of out country ahead of politcs?

I’ve had this a little over a year. I got it out for morning coffee and a few minutes of prayer for our country and all out leaders. Do you think they can put the well fare of out country ahead of politcs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I forgot to pull the leeks out  of the garden before this first big snow.  Hope theywill survive under their snow blanket. I am looing forward to potato-   leek soup.  I’m stll working on a  multi allium soup recipe. Something like a 3 onion soup. However,  my recipe will still be topped with a crouton and cheese. Those French can cook! don’t cha think?

 

wintergardenThe garden is pretty with the first snow, but I feel that it wants to be blooming again. I’m still tossing around plant ideas for those chimney tiles. Any thoughts?

I love the week between Christmas and New Years. Seems like there is always time for a walk with your sweety, the occasional nap, and that little happy moment when the eggnog is finally all gone!

Well , call me or send me your phone # to  hobsondotpatsybellatgmaildotcom I lost everyons phone, so call me.

Streets and sidewalks are clear. We have plenty of coffee and tea, so come on down. There’s always a fireplace on somewhere.

 

 

 

 

Grow wild wasabi arugula


2012
11.09

Plants From Seed

Try something new this spring. photo: Renee’s Garden “Wasabi” arugula.

Something new and green that I’ll be planting come spring: wasabi arugula. It tastes  just as snappy as you might imagine. And, while you probably won’t want a salad bowl filled with it, a few leaves on a plate of fresh mixed greens is delicious.

When my seeds came in the mail, I thought the packet was empty. When I opened and looked inside the packet, it was hard to even see those tiny seed. Traditional arugula seed dwarf these teeny tiny wasabi arugula seed by comparison.

Sow sparingly every 2 or 3 weeks from the earliest date you dare plant in your area. In my zone 6 SE Missouri garden, the plant did best in spring and fall.

I encourage you to grow this tasty new arugula variety. Once it is growing  in the garden, you will think of many flavorful ways to use it in the kitchen. Add a few leaves to your own mesclun mix.

We tucked it into fish tacos, roast beef or tuna salad sandwiches, even topped a pizza with these greens as soon as it came out of the oven.

Hub pages has more information: How to grow organic arugula.

Buy the seed from Renee’s Garden. But don’t limit yourself to just one variety of arugula, I’ve tried several of Renee’s selections. My other favorite arugulas are “Rustic” and “Rustic Style.” “Wasabi” Arugula is a Renee’s Exclusive, a wild discovery that really does taste like it’s namesake.

Renee’s Garden has the best new thing in the early spring garden: “Wasabi” arugula. Photo: Renees Garden.

 

Scented or Flavored Sugars Recipe


2012
08.07

How to make Lavender or Vanilla Flavored Sugars

L-R small jar of pure sugar; middle, 4 cups of vanilla sugar, and right, lavender sugar

The last of the lavender is blooming. Bees are abuzz. They have hovered aroud the lavender all summer. Noticing the last of the blooms nudged me on make a quart  (4 cups) of lavender flavored sugar.

I always keep these flavored sugars in the kitchen cabinet. Each summer I bake a pound cake to go with the season’s berries. Substitute lavender sugar for regular sugar in your favorite recipe. Or try Paula Deens Pound Cake recipe.

Pollinators frequent the lavender from the first bloom to the last.

Vanilla Sugar
Vanilla sugar is also easy to make. Substitute vanilla scented sugar in any cake or cookie recipe. It is also good in ice cream recipes.

Vanilla Sugar Recipe
Break whole vanilla bean pod in three or four pieces and distribute throughout a quart canning jar filled with white sugar. Wait 3 or 4 weeks for the vanilla to infuse the sugar. I buy spices from Penzey’s.

I’m making lavender sugar and vanilla sugar. Scented sugar or flavored sugars add another level of flavor to your recipes. It’s my secret ingredient and a sweet and suttle accent to baked goods.

Lavender Sugar
I’m collecting half a dozen lavender flowers to make lavender sugar. A little goes a long way. Lavender can quickly overpower the food it is meant to flavor. Lavender scented sugar adds just a hint of floral flavor.

Lavender Sugar Recipe

Three stems of fresh lavender flowers will infuse the 4 cups of sugar.

To make your own lavender sugar, add three or four whole flower heads in layers as you fill a pint jar with white sugar. Seal and wait two weeks to use the sugar. Test the flavor after the first week. Use a teaspoon of dried culinary flowers if fresh lavender is not available.

Using lavender sugar instead of lavender flowers in baking will add the light touch that will accent a recipe, not overpower it. Sift out the lavender flowers before adding the sugar to the recipe.

Use scented sugar in pound cake and/or the glaze. Substitute lavender sugar for regular white sugar in any baking recipe. Try lavender sugar cookies or blueberry muffins made with scented sugar.

Make scented sugars your secret ingredient. Adding vanilla extract to your baking is optional if you are using scented sugars. Also, try cinnamon stick or fresh mint leaves. If you have pesticide-free roses, make rose flavored sugar.

Make More

If your cake recipe calls for 2 Cups of sugar measure out what you need and sift out nd flower bits. Refill the quart jar with more regular. Tighten the lid and gently shake or roll the jar to mix the new and remaining flavored sugars.

Let your taste or smell be the judge about when to replace the herbs or spices. I bake very rarely, so I refresh the herbs or spices in a quart jar once each year. Wait two weeks to infuse  the additional sugar.

Todays Harvest Basket


2012
08.01

July 13, 2012

tomatoes, cucumber, squash, hot peppers.

This horrible heat has caused the tomatoes to stop blooming.  Tomatoes are suffering, even though I am watering the tomato plants. It is just too hot to bloom or produce fruit. Even when we get a temperature drop, it will take 5 week to produce a tomato. It takes about 3 weeks for the tomato to grow and then 2 more weeks for the big ones to ripen.

Today I harvested the ingredients, along with the home grown onions and garlic, for ratatouille.

I have loads of tomato information on Pinterest Tomato Everything

On Hubpages  Read My Hubpages about saving seed and tomatoes.

Hubs like this one: What causes tomatoes to crack?

Top Tomato Tips: When Size Matters

Why hot tomatoes stop growing

Sungold tomato. photo: PBH

This tangerine colored cherry tomato is little and the sweetest tomato I’ve ever eatin. This is the only tomato that I will for sure have in the garden next year.

 

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (ranch dressing)


2012
07.30

I am a herb gardener. Herbs are thriving in this summer heat. Since fresh tastes best.

This is my version of Ranch Dressing.

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (ranch dressing) with fresh herbs

Use fresh herbs when you have them. Substitute Penzeys Fox Point seasoning for onions and garlic.

1 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt (low or fat-free may be used)

1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is ok)

juice of ½ lemon

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

salt & freshly ground black pepperto taste

Combine yogurt and lemon in a pint Mason jar. Add garlic,chives, parsley and, dill. Pour in half the butter milk. Whisk or shake all ingredients are well blended. (Or I use an emersion blender.)

Continue adding up to ½ cup of buttermilk until dressing is the desired consistency. (I use 1 whole cup of buttermilk.)

Makes 1 pint. Keeps for a week in the fridge. Always shake before using.

Note the expiration date on the buttermilk and let that date be your expiration for this Ranch Dressing. Always shake before using.

If you use fat free yogurt instead of mayo, the dressing is still creamy and now low fat salad dressing. Try it. I prefer it with yogurt because you can not tell the difference.

Mix ingredients in a bowl or jar.

Use these dried herbs in winter or to make a gift mixes.

Dry Ranch Mix

1/2 cup instant minced onion
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder

2 cups dry parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dry dill weed

Measure first five ingredients, minced onion, onion salt, garlic salt, onion powder and garlic powder, into a blender or food processor and blend until combined. Stir in parsley and dill. Store and keep mix dry. A Mason jar or freezer bag work well. Label and include instructions for dressing or dip. Label it. You think you will remember, but you won’t.

Include these instructions on the gift tag:

Buttermilk Dressing

1 cup plain yogurt (or mayonnaise)

1 cup of buttermilk

juice of ½ lemon

2 Tablespoons Dry Ranch Mix

Combine 2 Tablespoons dry mix, one cup plain Greek yogurt, lemon and one cup buttermilk. Allow flavors to blend for at least an hour in the fridge before using.

The original recipe called for mayo instead of yogurt but I pinky swear you will not be able to tell the difference.

If you make ranch chicken, ranch dip, ranch potatoes, ranch flavored oyster crackers or, ranch burgers, substitute this recipe for the packaged recipe with too much salt, msg, and other unpronounceable ingredients.

Sliced tomato with buttermilk dressing.

This is how to share with the Ranch Dressing store bought bottled users:

At “pass the ranch.”  give him your homemade version.

There is no need to  discuss that half the calories are missing, most of the salt and fat are gone. AFTER he says he likes it Then you can tell him.

Bluecheese crumbles and chopped basil.  photo PBH.

 

 

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing with blue cheese and basil.

Start with 1/4 cup blue cheese and 1 tablespoon of basil. Taste, adjust cheese and herbs.

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