Sunday, October 4, 2015


If you have never had the opportunity to smell and taste the wonder of fresh grown herbs I strongly recommend you
 consider the benefits.

 I have picked these as my top five favorites, mostly for their versatility. They are wonderful with vegetables, or add great flavor to meat and casserole. They can be planted in a simple container and harvested as needed.  They grow easily, require minimal care and the best part? You trim off a Basil leaf or Rosemary twig and a new one grows in it's place.  I love to use my very sunny dining room bay window to keep these herbs healthy.   It makes it very convenient to choose from my possibilities when I want to add a touch of unique taste to dinner.

Basil is so fragrant, and taste just as wonderful.  It may typically be associated with pesto, or marinara sauces but you add a touch of fresh basil and mushroom to a simple white rice and you've got a quick and easy side dish.  Sprinkle some dried basil with a touch of salt and pepper over pork steak and it's a whole new flavor.  There is also (although limited) research that shows Basil may  help relieve stress.  I'm sure it has something to do with the comforting smell and taste.

Thyme is a very potent herb so you want to make sure and use it sparingly.  Once you've mastered the art of using it you'll want to add it to soups and your favorite meat dishes.  A small amount of Thyme added to the crock pot dinner will leave the house smelling wonderful by the time you return to check on it.

Thyme is said to have fungal and antiseptic healing benefits.  Preparing a Thyme tea (Thyme twigs boiled in water) and soaking nails in the mixture after it has cooled is said to help keep them healthy.  Swabbing the same tea lightly on a rash is said to help prevent it from spreading.  I just know it looks, tastes and smells superb.
Sweet Mint

Mint oh wonderful Sweet Mint....Most associated with a nice hot cup of tea or coco don't limit your imagination.  Dried mint added to chocolate chip cookie dough adds a touch of flavor that's hard to resist.  Turn fresh vegetables into a masterful flavor treat and add a few fresh leaves of mint.  A  fruit salad is even better when you add fresh mint.  Mint has always had a stand out reputation for clearing sinuses and soothing sore throats.  A warm cup of fresh mint tea does wonders for an irritable tummy too.  It happens to be one of my favorite ways to relax.

 Cilantro is simply one of those herbs you love or hate.  Personally I really like the flavor this one adds.  It's not just for salsa or guacamole.  Although it does add a very defining flavor it does have other benefits.  Any soup or casserole will have a new touch of wonderful with fresh Cilantro.  If you love a good stir fry you won't believe what Cilantro can add to it.  Any fish is unbelievably good when you steam it with some Cilantro.

You won't want to forget that Cilantro is high in many essential oils and vitamins.  While extremely low in caloric value it is uncharacteristically high in vitamins A and K.


Rosemary is another fragrant herb that adds  new flavor to any dish.  Great with meats or vegetables it turns soup into a bowl of comfort.   Rosemary, like Thyme can be fairly potent so don't over do it.  A small amount of finely ground Rosemary adds a wonderful flare to almost any meat or vegetable dish.

Rosemary has a reputation for being a wonderful healer.  The extracted oil is said to work well as a topical remedy for skin ailments.  A little rosemary in your favorite lotion will not only enhance the smell, but the natural oils are reported to benefit complexion as well.

These herbs are not only easy to grow, but treated right and they just keep on giving.  It's always nice to go to my dining room and pick my choice of fresh herbs for dinner.  It just makes cooking more adventurous.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What's in Your Container?

I can't help myself, really.  I don't have a large back yard for gardening, but I am determined to have my fresh crops no matter what the season.  So, I keep plenty of containers around.  I pick them up anywhere I can.  Some are just standard flower pots, like the one pictured below that hold my Garlic. Some are over sized  wash tubs like the one holding my tomatoes.  They come from dollar stores, from thrift stores and some from the side of the road.
Brussel Sprouts

When utilizing any container for crops it is important to know what you want to sprout.  For example, although spinach and green onion will work well I certainly wouldn't want to try a potato.  Root vegetables (ie potato, carrot etc) need more depth for growth than most containers will allow.  Yes, onion can be considered a root vegetable.  Stick with the simple to grown green onion for success.  Pick something that has a hardy root system but doesn't require a lot of room to grown.  This will make plants such as okra, brussel sprouts and spinach flourish in containers.  They have strong sturdy roots and they grow completely above the soil.

Although not impossible I do try to stray from cultivating any vining vegetable in a container.  It can be done successfully, but can also tend to hamper the bounty of any harvest.  Cucumbers, peas, squash and green beans need plenty of room to spread and thrive.  Most containers won't allow for that.  However it is very possible to take advantage of a large container and allow most vining crops to flourish. Tomatoes can be perfect in a container as long as you choose the right strain.  Beef Steak tomatoes may not work as well as say grape, or cherry tomatoes.

Possibly the most popular and advantageous crop for any container is the herb.  Herbs of all kind love to show off their advantages in a container.  I don't suggest making one hugh container herb garden.  They will tend to cross pollinate.  When I grow cilantro I want cilantro.  Not a cilantro/basil mixture.  Although that can be quite useful in some dishes.   In addition garlic is quite prominate in a container.  Just be sure to make the pot deep enough ad leave pleanty of room for grown.

Green Onion
My favorite part of any container garden is the option to move it inside when the fall gardening season has subcomed for anoher year.  For example the Brussell Sprouts pictured above were planted last fall.  I brought the container inside any day the temperature was too cold.  Brussell Sprouts will withstand tempatures up to 40 degrees.  When the days were sunny and pleasent the container was set back outdoors.  Now they are back outdoors and doing nicely.  I will probably set them back indoors when the temperatures become too warm for the sprouts to handle.

Containers are a very benefical way to keep crops gowing no matter the season.  It is important to be familar with the crops you want to grow, the amount of space they require to flourish and the enviorment that best suits the need.  With a little research, and perhaps a small amount of trial and error you can put delicious fresh food on the table any time of year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why Not the Onion?

I've probably got as many crops growing in containers as I do in the ground. These green onions are one of the most sustainable crops around. Yes that is a $8 container from the dollar store. A 30 gallon heavy duty basket with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage.

For the initial investment of fifty cents to one dollar you can keep your onion crop going indefinitely. This depends on the cost of one bunch of green onions at your supermarket.  It's best to start with at least two bunches.

Simply trim the roots off a batch of store bought green onions. Chop and freeze the rest to keep handy for soups or casseroles. Be sure to leave at least 1\2 inch of onion intact with the root. Plant roots about 2 inch apart and 1 1\2 inch deep with root down. Water well. In about a week sprouts will begin to pop out of the soul. Onions will be ready to harvest in about 6 to 8 weeks.

 The stalk should be strong, sturdy and 8 to 14 inches tall. If the stalk begins to turn brown it may be ready for harvest.  It it is not simply pluck the damage away.  Pick your fresh crops and start the entire process all over again. TIP: onions grow best in cooler weather. Plant in late Fall or early Spring for maximum results. My luck is always best when I use a container for planting. Water moderately but never leave standing in drenched soil.

Even if you are not an avid Gardner you will enjoy the ease of producing fresh green onions.  It takes very little effort, and minimal time to harvest these better tasting crops.  Add them to your favorite dish and you'll be amazed.