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Herbal Vinegars

Herbal Vinegars Herbal vinegars are a great way to preserve herbs, use in cooking, and make great gifts Herbal vinegars are easy to make and have a multitude of uses Some herbal vinegars have been used to help with prevention from illness Supplies for herbal vinegars Apple Cider, red wine, white wine, rice, coconut, balsamic – do not use distilled (white) vinegar unless this vinegar is just for cleaning Fresh or dried herbs Clean food safe bottle with lid for steeping Clean food safe bottle with lid and/or spout for gifting/using. – use darker colored bottles for vinegars which may not have an attractive color (sage looks yellowish). Recycle vinegar or other bottles or purchase bottles. Hint: Vegetable oil and/or alcohol and/or vinegar can help with removing label residue after a good soak in water. Fine strainer Lint free cheesecloth or coffee filters for straining smaller pieces Recycled ribbon or raffia for gift tag if for a gift Ornament or other small gift (optional) Consider enclosing a list of possible uses with the vinegar Apple cider vinegar works better with stronger flavored herbs such as sage and oregano. Sage and oregano can be used with any of the other vinegars also. Fill clean jar about half full of herbs. For lavender fill ¼ of the jar or less If using a variety of herbs place heavier herbs on top (sliced ginger for example) to hold down the lighter weight herbs Pour vinegar over herbs Be sure all herbs are submerged in the vinegar Put on the lid Place in a cool, dark spot for a minimum of one week. Smell or taste after one week or just leave it for longer. If you desire a stronger scent or taste let steep for longer. More herbs and/or longer steeping will create

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Make Your Own Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap can be used for killing various insects on contact. Remember it may kill all insects so do not spray when bees are around or where you may hit other desirable insects. Insecticidal soap is said to not harm most beneficial insects but I would avoid spraying them just in case. I use insecticidal soap mostly for aphids. Before I spray I check for small black and red crocodile creatures. These are the larvae of lady bugs. If I see them or the adult lady bugs I will not spray at all or be very careful to spray parts of the plant where I do not see them. Insecticidal soap can also be used indoors on houseplants. It may help control aphids, mealy bugs (look like small bits of cotton on your plants), white flies, and spider mites. If you have tiny black gnats flying around you have fungus gnats which are due to over watering. Cut back on watering to kill them off. Be sure to spray under leaves and on branches and twigs. If I have a pest problem I will spray the entire plant unless I have lady bugs or their larvae as mentioned above. I also have used insecticidal soap to control lawn insects. Mix up a large amount in a 5 gallon bucket and pour on the lawn in the spots where you have grubs, sod webworm, or other lawn insect pests.  Learn how to tell if you have a lawn insect pest (under insects and fungus) Do not use insecticidal soap (or any pesticide) when temperatures are above 85 F or in full sun. You may want to rinse plants off with water within a few hours of spraying insecticidal soap to avoid any chance of plant sensitivity and to remove any insect

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13 Ideas for Garden Spring Cleaning

We think of Spring cleaning the house. What about Spring cleaning your garden? Spring cleaning can reduce effort later on and help your yard start looking good even before all your flowers are blooming and trees are leafed out. Here are 13 ideas for Garden Spring Cleaning: Prune fruit trees. Don’t know how? Check with your local county extension service for pruning demonstrations. After pruning spray with horticulture oil. Spray the entire tree – trunk and branches – ideally before blooming. Prune your roses after the first leaves appear. Cutting in the fall or too early in the Spring may stimulate growth which then dies back when there is colder weather possibly killing the entire plant. Roses may also be sprayed with horticultural oil. Cut back perennials and ornamental grasses that were not cut back in the fall. Ideally cut them back before they begin to grow in the spring. For most, cut back to 1” Pull out dead plants if you did not in the fall. Be careful, maybe it isn’t dead. If you know the plants are annuals in your climate (petunias, marigolds, tomatoes, as an example) then go ahead and rip them out. If they are not annuals keep in mind that plants do not show new life in the spring all at the same time. Rose of Sharon and other Hibiscus are two that are later at showing growth. Check mower blades, pruners, and other tools. Do blades need sharpening? Will power tools start? You don’t want to wait until you need them to see if they work properly. Remove leaves from your lawn. Any leaves left from fall and sitting on your lawn can contribute to lawn diseases. Put the leaves in your compost pile. Don’t have a compost pile? Start one now Weed control.

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Growing and Using French Tarragon

French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) or tarragon seems to be one of the least familiar of the culinary herbs that are commonly found in dried and fresh forms in grocery stores. French Tarragon is easily grown in many climates and has a wonderful anise flavor similar in some ways to basil but unlike basil will come back year after year. French Tarragon rarely sets seed so it is best to purchase a plant. When you see tarragon seed packets they are not French Tarragon and will not have the wonderful flavor and aroma of French Tarragon. Although French Tarragon is related to sagebrush and can have a slightly wild look to it the deep green color is a nice addition to the landscape. Plant French Tarragon in sun or part shade in well drained soil either in the ground or in a pot. French Tarragon can get reach 2′ x 2′ or more but since you will be trimming it regularly for use the growth can be easily controlled. French Tarragon goes well with poultry, fish, meats, salads, and salad dressings, and is often used to make herbal vinegars and oils. Tarragon is an ingredient in fines herbes and Béarnaise sauce. French Tarragon is also helpful for digestion and because of its numbing effect when chewed has been used for toothache. Since it does not hold its flavor well when dried it is best to use French Tarragon fresh or freeze for later use. Pesto can be made with a many herbs other than basil – including French Tarragon. Just replace the basil with French Tarragon. Pesto can be made ahead and frozen for later use although some recommend adding the garlic just before use. French Tarragon recipes

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Oh No! I Didn’t Get My Garden Planted!

Oh No! I didn’t get my garden planted! Has this ever happened to you? You can still get a harvest with a late start to garden planting. Maybe life got in the way or the weather wasn’t cooperative or you moved. Whatever the reason sometimes we don’t get things planted as we planned. For the first time this year that has happened to me. So, what do you do? It’s not too late for some vegetables.  In my area and many others it is not too late to plant warm season crops so I will be planting today. Check this blog post to get an idea of when to plant what.  First I will check the weather report. Since it is past mid May normally the weather is regularly warm enough that squash, tomatoes, and peppers will be fine. I always check the seven day forecast first just to see what is expected. After planting I check every day in case of expected low temperatures (anything under 40 F), hail, snow, etc. I did get some tomatoes started from seed so I have those ready for planting. Tomato Seedlings Plan for fall. Cool season crops such as spinach, lettuce, and cilantro can be planted again in later summer as weather begins to cool. You may get by planting these now in a spot of shade. Why not give it a shot? You’ll be out just a few seeds and a little time. Plan ahead in case this happens again. I would recommend this even if you are sure you will get everything planted in a timely matter. I certainly did not expect that I would not get my early vegetables in. Even though I did not get anything planted I had plenty in my yard for harvesting. I had planted

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What Are Currants?

Fruit bearing shrub Native to the Americas Can be found growing wild in some areas Easy to grow in your landscape Attractive shrub – usually 3 – 5′ tall, nice fall color Edible fruit – juice, jam, pies, some varieties taste great fresh. Can handle part shade I grow black, red, and white currants plus Golden Currant which gets its name from the yellow flowers. In my part shade front yard they are a nice addition to the landscape. A landscape where I worked had espaliered red currants along the garden fence. The tastiest wild currants I have eaten were orange fruited currants growing near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Want to learn about more wild edible plants? Join me on a Wild Herb Walk or a Wild Edible Plants class (check my Event calendar) and/or check out my book Wild Herb Card Decks.

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