Monday, October 18, 2010

Herbs, ornamentals, peppers and other things...


The Basil really did well.  Nice plants reaching almost 3' tall.  I had picked a bunch of it this summer and made some yummy pesto with macadamia nuts and olive oil.  I also pulled some more plants this past weekend when it looked like we were going to have a frost- the one that didn't happen.  I washed, dried the big stems and then plucked the leaves for the dehydrator.  They are taking forever to dry.  I don't know why, maybe it was sheer volume and the low setting. The heat has to be on the lowest setting, just gently warm.  But its still taking a long time,  and the humidity up here had been rather low for those days.  I'll have to keep trying.

I think i might try a variety with much larger leaves though. It might make harvesting it easier.  Its a thought i hope to remember later.

The Rosemary is still doing great out there, its more hardy than the basil so it will look nice for a while longer.  I'm still going to harvest and dry as much as i can.  I might try and bring in a few of them for the winter. I have never successfully kept a rosemary plant alive long term in the house, but its worth a try with my own seedlings.

I get to make some hand-bashed herb mixtures and sauces now that i got my big stone mortar and pestle.  I have been ogling these things for years.  I have a medium sized ceramic one, but its not the heavy duty granite thing i just got.  Its a lot like the one i first saw Jamie Oliver using how long ago?  They were almost impossible to find then, but i kept looking. Then i found them about 5 years ago, but to ship a 26 pound mortar and pestle was craziness...  until i went looking again about a year ago and found
They sent me THIS  Mine is the 8".  They only charged me $8.98 to ship it, Priority. I ordered it Sunday evening and i have it today.  It really is very nice.  Such a great company!

Ok, ok.... back to the garden stuff! lol

Shiso (Perilla/Shisho)-   It took its time growing but it did start to take off as the summer went on. It has a really brilliant mahogany-red and the scent of the leaves is somewhere between basil and fresh tangerine rind.  Its very interesting.  I might pull it and try and see if it makes a good house plant since i haven't done anything with the leaves yet other than pluck a few to sniff.

The peppers this year just didn't impress.  I think the ZsaZsa  were so tempremental, by the time i got the seeds to germinate the plants were way behind. It has one singular fruit on one of the plants, but it is small and i don't think its going to grow much more before frost.
Same thing with the New Ace- i did get maybe 3 reasonably sized peppers from it.  Not nearly grocery store sized, but tasty enough.  The "Fooled You" Jalapeno were interesting...  they were not hot at all...  which is what they were described as.  But i guess the joke was on me cause a green pepper without heat is.....guess what?  A sweet green pepper.  I guess i was expecting the pepper to retain the musky, smoky flavor of hot peppers but without the heat.  But it didn't happen that way,  without heat a pepper loses those traits, at least in this case.  So it was a disappointment in a way, but not because there was something wrong with the seeds or the plants,  it just wasn't what i had hoped it would be.
I won't bother with it again, i'll grow the jalapenos that keep their heat. Since i live in a cooler place they may not be as ripping hot as the ones grown in the South anyway.

Ornamental stuff-
I guess i could say the Ornamental Eggplant, the Birdhouse Gourds and the Job's Tears should fit here.

The Ornamental Eggplant really delivered the "Pumpkin on a Stick" that i was hoping for.  A bunch of brilliant orange, tiny, pumpkin-like fruits are all over the stems.  I need to pick some for a little fall display on the dinner table. I need to pick them for a picture anyway.

The Birdhouse Gourd was both a success and a pain in the row.  It tried to take over the back half of the garden earlier in the summer. Even after being chopped, clipped, and dragged into submission it still got designs.  Every time i looked at it i have the Pinky & The Brain cartoon theme song stuck in my head.
But, though i have not plucked them yet, it looks like i have some really nice gourds to dry out.  One is huge and the rest are more manageable. I won't grow these again in  a garden so small as mine, but i might get to use the space in my parents' garden next year. They haven't been using it much in the last few years.

The Job's Tears are doing really nice things. There are a lot of seeds still on the 2 plants and i have picked a small handful.  The only trouble i have had is knowing when to harvest the seeds.  The ones i tried were a bit too young. When they dried their coats got a wrinkly texture and turned a shiny white instead of the expected shades of slate and graphite gray.  I was worried that the seeds would mature so fast on me that i'd miss picking them and they'd drop to the ground and be ruined for beads.  Or that frost destroys their looks too.
I tried picking some more a few days ago, some of the seeds were getting very dark brown and a clean straw-colored shade. Those seem to be drying naturally and are showing the expected lustrous greyscale colors.  I'm quite happy with them actually. I can't wait to mix them with other beads of natural materials like shells, earth tone stone beads, coconut,  fresh water pearls....  They've re-inspired my interest in doing hand made jewelery.  I even dug out my bead stash and made a few things in anticipation :0)   I think its the neatest thing to be able to go out into the garden and harvest my own beads.

Fresh picked:

Comparison of dried and fresh.  Drying takes about a week for color to develop.

The darker the fresh seed the more blue-grey the bead ends up.


Faith said...

What a fun thing! I'm so glad you shared about the Job's tears. The name was familiar, but I've never seen a bit about them. What a fun project for little ones.

Great basil, batman! Mine have never gotten higher than two feet. But my soil is poor. Hopefully that will change as time goes on.

Have you thought about bringing in the peppers? Looking outside this morning it looks like this second freeze actually killed off the Swiss chard I was going to pick this week - so it's time for me to dig up the rest of the stuff I want to save, including peppers.

Remember that fig cuttings post I did a while back? At this point I have only one cutting that truly looks like it made it. I hope so, so I can plant it in a good location in the spring.

I need to get out my Elliot C. book on winter harvesting.

I love your mortar and pestle. Something to pass on to many generations, too.


icebear said...

Yeah, i can't wait to make something from them. Not sure what yet. They are said to be commonly used for making rosaries, but since i'm not into vain repetition prayer, i don't think i'll be doing that . ;o)
But i think they will look nice paired with beads of other natural materials- wood, shells, freshwater pearls, etc.