Category Archives: Herb Everything

Blog posts and herbal experiences

Akk! First Frost

The killer hard freeze

"Italian Genovese" "Queenette" Thai basil, "Italian Cameo" L-R

“Italian Genovese” “Queenette” Thai basil, “Italian Cameo” L-R

First frost in fall is as nerve-racking as the last frost date of spring. It’s no surprise to a gardener that the first frost is impending. But dang, one more warm week and I would have had a dozen more one-pound golden-yellow tomatoes.

Gathering herbs before frost. I’ll pick all tomatoes with any hint of color, decent size peppers, and eggplant.


A week or two more for fresh herbs and vegetables. Plus, I’ll make some casseroles to freeze. (Like the Court of Two Sisters eggplant casserole, Chunky vegetable soup, Ratatouille)

Then, this fall/winter, some home canned and frozen food we’ve accumulated all summer, will serve as comfort food on the coldest days.

Several fresh cut basil brought indoors before the frost. herbs in jars

Several fresh-cut basil brought indoors before the frost. herbs in jars

Bring in basil cuttings, even if is a possibility it might reach.

Learn more about Hardy Fall Vegetables  – Big beautiful leeks, leafy chard, sweet baby carrots are still in the garden.

"Pot of Gold" chard

“Pot of Gold” chard from

Where to find these recipes:

Court of 2 Sisters eggpla

  • Court of Two Sisters eggplant casserole – Next time eggplant starts piling up in the garden, make this recipe and freeze it. (Easy to double.)
  • Chunky vegetable soup
  • Ratatouille – Julia’s recipe!

Gazpacho is a garden celebration in a bowl

The taste of summer

When the vegetable garden goes into full production, it’s time for gazpacho. The best gazpacho is made with garden fresh produce at the peek of the season.

IMG_5353 (1)

Add pureed vegetables to the chopped vegetables.

Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup. It’s a southern Spanish dish of blended fresh raw vegetables in a tomato base.

Use up a lot of vegetables. Tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, herbs.


When the garden explodes and the kitchen counter is covered with fresh produce, make gazpacho.


Don’t like  bell peppers? Leave them out. Add zucchini, roasted garlic, a few shakes of hot pepper sauce. The point is to make this recipe your own by adding the vegetables and herbs that you grow and love. Or, pick the best and most abundant produce at the farmers market.

Use any variety of sun ripened tomatoes.

Use any variety of sun ripened tomatoes.

Some gazpacho is served puréed until smooth. I prefer a chunkier version that includes chopped vegetables. Choose vine-ripened tomatoes and the freshest vegetables.

Use any variety of sweet peppers.

Use any variety of sweet peppers.

Use what you have and what you like. I will use extra cukes in midsummer. Later, when all the pepper varieties are producing, I’ll use more peppers and less cucumbers.




Basic recipe.

Start with the basic recipe, then make it your own.


2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
tomato juice
1 or two cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium chopped red onion
1 small hot pepper, seeded and minced (your choice, jalapeño, poblano, banana)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (herb vinegar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
mixed herbs 2 tablespoons of your choice
2 tablespoons fresh basil for garnish

tomatoes and  cucumbers

Chop vegetables, puree in small batches with the blender or food processor.

Combine half of the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, onion. Mince small hot pepper and 2 garlic cloves. Add 2 cups of tomato juice, half the salt and purée. I use a stick blender.

Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the purée. Stir in oil, vinegar, salt pepper, mixed herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.

The important thing is to chill the soup. Refrigerating the gazpacho allows the vegetable flavors to meld. The most flavorful a gazpacho will chill overnight.

SERVE – in chilled bowls with chilled soup spoons, with a chiffonade of basil to garnish. Pass around extra chopped herbs or grated Parmesan cheese.

tomatoes peeling in waterPEEL Tomatoes:  To remove the skins, mark a small “X” on the bottom with a sharp knife. Slowly lower tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water. The skins will slip off, and you can proceed with the gazpacho recipe.

chiffronadeCHIFFONADE basil:  Create ribbons of basil by stacking the basil leaves and roll them into a cigar shape. Carefully cut across the rolled basil with a sharp knife.

The taste of summer.

Your garden in a bowl. Even better the next day. For thicker soup, add a bit of tomato paste as you adjust the seasoning.


Gazpacho and garlic cheese toast.

FINISH soup: add a splash of red wine vinegar, herb or balsamic vinegar, olive oil or extra chopped herbs.

ADD Herbs: parsley, basil, cilantro, oregano, thyme. Use roasted garlic instead of fresh raw minced garlic. Top with a dollop of pesto.

A rainbow of Zinnias

It’s a good zinnia growing year.

Zinnias, Zinnia elegans are the star of the summer flower show. For filler and contrast, try adding herbs, or coleus. It doesn’t always have to be leather leaf ferns or baby’s breath.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Red and gold zinnias with coleus in an antique watering can.

Summer-long blooms bring butterflies and pollinators to the garden. Zinnias meant “thoughts of an absent friend.” in the Victorian language of flowers.


Zinnias and Russian sage. Cutting Zinnia, “Hot Crayon Colors” ↑ 


Zinnias and mini marigolds. ↑ →

“Signet Starfire” marigolds. grown from seed. Little yellow and orange dwarf single marigolds keeps blooming until frost.

Shades of red:


Red and white zinnias with coleus make a simple bouquet.

Zinnias and coleus.↑


Zinnias and Nicotiana. ↑


Zinnia and Coleus. ↑

Zinnias were named 1763 by Linnaeus in honor of Johann Zinn, a German professor of botany and medicine.

Pinks and lavender:


Zinnias and coleus. ↑ Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket”

These crayon colored flowers are long-stemmed cutting flowers with long-lasting blooms.

To extend the life of cut flower blooms by trimming off the bottom of the stem, every few days. Replace the water with fresh every 4 days.


Zinnias and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Berry Basket” ↑


Zinnias with oregano and basil. Cutting Zinnia, “Bling Bling.” These lovely cut flowers are bigger and brighter every year. Disease resistance has much improved through the years.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann's lace.

Pink zinnias and Queen Ann’s lace.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve included zinnias in your garden, take another look. Zinnias are disease resistant rebloomers that will keep you in flowers until frost.

You might also like:

IMG_3335I got all the zinnias in this post from Renee’s Garden.

Herb bouquets

Include herbs in the Flower and vegetable garden


Keep a herb bouquet in the kitchen

Trimming herbs will tidy the garden and provide fragrant culinary inspiration in the kitchen. Keep a herb bouquet in the kitchen to inspire using fresh herbs in cooking. A handy sprig of fresh oregano may be just what the tomato sauce needs.

Clip or trim herbs to encourage, healthy, bushy growth. For example, a basil plant will produce more leaves if kept trimmed. Learn more about the importance of Pinching terminal buds for better plant growth.

Herbs and flowers by PBH

Cutting herbs (cilantro) and flowers like zinnias will encourage production. Plants continue to grow, trying to bloom and make seed. to seed will extend the growing season. Herbs and flowers by PBH

Herbs add greenery and fill a bouquet to colorful blooms. A handy supply of herbs in the garden will always brighten any bouquet. Replace filler like baby’s breath and leather leaf ferns with your own home-grown herbs.


A hummingbird and bees were drawn into admire this bouquet on the patio.

A herb bouquet on the kitchen counter will inspire you to use more fresh herbs. Often, cut herbs will last longer than a floral bouquet.

Later, the lavender will flavor lemonade. The garlic scapes and cilantro will be added to salsa.

Garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes.






You can never have too much basil.


Chopped fresh basil and oregano boost the flavor, turning any dish into gourmet fare.

Plant enough to use fresh, to preserve as pesto and in herb vinegar. Keep a pot on the patio or right outside the kitchen door. Read more about basil: Seed starting, growing and storing Basil

Basil flavor is best when fresh. If you keep basil cuttings in a kitchen bouquet, don’t be surprised in the stems form roots.

Discard the rooted stems and use only the leaves in cooking. (Or, plant the rooted cuttings.)

A variety of basil cuttings.

Gather basil cuttings before the first frost to extend the fresh basil for a couple of more weeks.

Keeping basil pinched or cut back will produce more leaves. Keeping a glass or jar of those cuttings in the kitchen makes it much more likely that you will use the herbs at their best.

Wordless Wednesday


Garlic scape bouquet.

Hardy fall vegetables

Big beautiful leeks, leafy chard, sweet baby carrots are still in the garden.

chard, leeks

Pot of Gold chard, is a garden show off now that the weather has cooled. The big leafy plants are not bitter. Photo PBH


There are also some young kale, broccoli and, cauliflower plants still in the garden. The plants are slow-growing and may not have time to make before the cold weather settles in. I’ll harvest the young kale leaves.

Read more:  Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard

Build a bed this fall. Get a jump or the spring garden season. Try  simple wood framed easy raised bed. Build the basic garden this fall. Get a jump on next spring’s garden.

Raised beds are a quick start for new gardeners

Baby kale is sweet and crisp.

Read more:  Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard


The baby kale will be part of Zuppa Toscana, an Italian potato soup with sausage and kale. It’s one of the many soups collected on the Bread and Soup board on my Pinterest .

Add kale in the last minutes of simmering so it will stay bright and green.



Sweet baby carrots


Little carrots still have time to grow bigger and sweeter.

Little carrots still have time to grow bigger and sweeter.

Daucus carota. There are lots of carrots out there in the garden. They are sweet, orange and about three inches long. I’m curious, they have been thinned and are growing faster than anything else.

I’ll just watch and see how long they keep growing. Carrots as a fall crop are new in my garden. I’ll sow more carrots in the spring.

A packet of carrot seed has about a gazillion seed. Buy it and you will have enough for two crops a year. There are dozens of varieties.  You can get a generous packet of carrot seed for two bucks at Nichols Garden Nursery

I pulled up some short fat carrots, Chantenay Red Core Carrot, I think. It’s an old heirloom and it is growing well in my Southeast Missouri garden. They take up so little space in the garden.  Try to grow carrots if haven’t.

There's lots of parsley in the garden this fall.

There’s lots of parsley in the garden this fall.


Parsley is loaded with vitamin C. It’s a real asset in chicken soup. I’ll add a heaping helping in the last minutes of simmering.

Some parsley will stay in the garden because it is a biannual and will appear early in the spring. It will flower and go to seed in the second year.




And finally, perky little blooms are hard to come by in November. Calendula, “Flashback” is a volunteer. They frequently self seed. Anywhere this colorful plant appears, it’s welcomed to stay. This bright orange bloom brings pollinators to the garden.




Scarlet Nantes




More information:

Grow 2 crops of carrots this season

How to grow long straight carrots

Nichols Garden Nursery – Fine Seeds & Herbs. Has some good carrot growing tips. Plus, they have 11 varieties of carrots. several good varieties that are under $2 a packet. I may have slightly exaggerated in saying there are a gazillion seeds in a packet.

There are approximately 18,500 carrot seeds per ounce or 650 seeds per gram.

 In the soup pot today: Washed and coarsely chopped chunks of  these Leeks, kale, carrots, onions, oregano, garlic, parsley and rosemary are simmering in a big pot destined to be a vegetable broth by tomorrow. Beef, chicken, or vegetable both will make any soup brighter, adding another levels of taste.

When cooking a chicken for chicken soup, cook it in your homemade broth instead of water. The resulting golden chicken broth is the best. Really. I mean it. Double broth may have originally come from heaven.

Today’s Harvest Basket 9/28/14

Today’s Harvest Basket September 28,1914

Tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, sage

Food is just coming in “dribs and drabs”, as grandmother would say.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.

Happy Birthday to our resident hole digger and full-time weeder. His birthday dinner will be all locally grown (in my garden or in the surrounding counties.)

Everything except for the pasta. It was a very bad year for macaroni in the garden. It doesn’t grow here in Southeast Missouri, USA

Jules is one of the unsung hero’s of the garden, chasing moles, resetting the stones in the walkway once the culprit is finally caught. Most of all, when we both stumble inside at the end of a long, hard day, I will say I forgot to turn off the water, bring in the tools, whatever.) Out he goes to solve the problem. Jules is the apple of my eye.

Cooler fall weather means apples are plentiful. Missouri has a bounty of apples.



Honey Crisp, big, juicy, crisp.

Honey Crisp, big, juicy, crisp.

Speaking of apples, they are here, every kind you can imagine. I had to take out a second mortgage to buy the first Honeycrisps that arrived in the area. They are big enough to share, crisp and sweet as any eating apple you ever tasted.

Because this young apple has quickly developed such a big following. The Grocer charges more than double the price of other apples.

It takes five to six years for Honeycrisp to produce fruit. They grow best in cold weather states, like Minnesota.

Honeycrisp apple is a cross between Macoun apple and Honey Gold apples. Developed by University of Minnesota.

It will not come true when grown from seed. Honeycrisp apple flowers must be pollinated by another apple variety. Even a crabapple will do.

They are pricey apples. But I love them for fresh eating. For making homemade applesauce, pies, fried apples, I choose a more affordable variety.

Applesauce or apple pie filling are a good idea to start home canning. The weather is cool, the work in your garden has slowed down, apples are plentiful most everywhere.

Apples as a first home canning project

This is a favorite apple pie recipe for a fall apple bounty.

Sausage and apple pie a fall favorite

Make it a brunch dish using good breakfast sausage. For dinner, I use sweet Italian sausage. Honestly, I don’t need a reason, the pie is one my fall favorites.

Today’s Harvest Basket 9/16/14

Today’s Harvest Basket, September 16, 2014.

Bunnies are always hiding in my garden. Today, I also discovered carrots.

Big long, straight carrots.

Big long, straight carrots.

I was planning a journal entry called “Garden Cleanup.” While I was tidying up the herb garden, I discovered these giant carrots. This is a new vegetable in my garden, it is only the second year to grow carrots. I was never inclined to grow carrots because I didn’t especially like them.


Carrots was not a crop grown in Grandmother’s garden. Her Ozarks garden was red clay and very rocky, making it impossible to grow carrots. I had no idea where carrots came from.

The 10″ long carrots were masquerading as it’s cousins: parsley, cilantro, and chervil. All of these herbs are members of the carrot family. The flowers look like Queen Ann’s Lace.

Sitting behind the harvest basket are water-filled jars of parsley, cilantro, or chervil. The parsley will go into tabouleh. Cilantro will be frozen into a pesto-like condiment, ready to drop into bean dishes, chili, enchilada sauce or salsa.

Chervil on potato salad

Chervil on potato salad

Chervil has only been in the garden for a couple of years. I will use chervil in potato dishes like potato salad.

It is one of the herbs in the fines herbes blend. (pronounced “feen erb.”) 

Fines Herbes

My recipe for fresh fines herbes

• 3 Tablespoons chervil
• 3 Tablespoons chives
• 3 Tablespoons parsley
• 2 Tablespoons tarragon

Finely chop all these herbs and mix together. Use fresh or store in the refrigerator in a zip lock or small air tight container for a couple of days.

I have all these herbs growing in the garden now. Usually, chervil is available only in the cool season. I will mix fines herbes into an herb herb butter to freeze.

Lacy chervil in part shade.

Lacy chervil in part shade.

Try chervil or fines herbes:

Today’s Harvest Basket 8/11/14

Today’s Harvest Basket August 11, 2014

Squash and tomatoes, plus a fruit jar full of herb cuttings. Mint and parsley will go into tabouleh.

Today's Harvest Basket 8: 11: 14

Mint in upper right, Italian flat leafed parsley in lower left.

Baby zucchini

The monster zucchini are now under control. I’m picking them at 7″ or so. Sliced lengthways and brushed with a hint of roasted garlic olive oil, these little tender squash and so, so good on the grill (or roasted in the oven)

In August, when the garden is in high production, I can easily be a vegetarian. That big yellow tomato weighs about a pound and a half.

Late blight has taken over most of the garden.

Late blight has taken over most of the tomatoes in the garden.

Yellow tomatoes

I hope to get one last flush of tomatoes before the plants succumb to late blight. Each of the tomatoes in this photo weigh well over a pound.

Heirloom tomatoes do not have the disease resistance that many hybrids do. But I challenge you to find a sweeter or prettier tomato than Gold Medal.

They are susceptible to late blight. I had the same problem a couple of years a go when I planted them.

But wait till I slice one open for you. Lovely meaty, yellow flesh with a splash of red radiating from the center.

Gold Medal Seedling

Gold Medal Seedling.

Generally speaking, it is not true that yellow tomatoes are less acid than red tomatoes. However, this big yellow tomato is less acid than most tomatoes.

Today’s Harvest Basket 6/18/2014

June 18, 2014

Parsley, mint, onion, ity bitty carrot.

Fresh parsley  + mint make the best tabouleh.

Fresh parsley + mint make the best tabouleh.

I always grow more parsley than we can eat. It is because of the rule of three. Grow one for me, one for others, one for the wildlife. Tabouleh is made with ingredients from my garden plus bulgar, a squeeze of fresh lemon and a bit of olive oil.

When tomatoes are producing, stuffed tomatoes are a good lunch.

When tomatoes are producing heavily, stuffed tomatoes are a good lunch.

Tabouleh will have a lot of parsley and mint in tonight’s dish. Next week when we have TONS of cucumber, the recipe will be heavy on cucumbers. Finally, when the tomatoes are the star of the garden, there will be a lot more tomato in the recipe.

About that carrot, it was harvested because I was thinning the carrots to encourage  them to grow straight and tall. When we have enough for carrot cake, I’ll share my recipe. But, it looks like it could be awhile before we have fresh carrot cake.

Take a jar of cool water to the garden. Plung herbs and leafy greens in cool water to prevent wilting.


This mint is called chocolate mint. It tastes nothing like chocolate. The stem is chocolate colored.

It is one of my favorite  mints because it has a pure mint flavor. It is a very bright, clean taste.

I keep it from growing out of control by using it at least once a week, clipping a generous portion to put in sun tea.

I buy mint from Richters Herbs.

Richters has a huge selection of herbs and a stunning variety of mints.

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