Sunday, November 30, 2014

What am I doing in the garden now?

Dear friends,

I guess the question should be, what am I NOT doing in the garden now. We've had a bout of cold weather, cold enough to kill off the larger-than-ever basil plants, and then warmer weather, with huge fierce, blustery winds that make me shriek "Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It's a twister!"

I never could stand brisk wind.

However, the wind did help us harvest an amazing crop of pecans this year. We have two ancient pecan trees in our back yard, and so far we've collected a five-gallon bucket.  That's just a fraction of the amount laying on the ground, waiting to be picked up.

In spite of the short freeze, the rosemary is very happy and blooming now--and is attracting tons of honey bees. We do love those bees around here!

Honeybees on Rosemary in November
Luckily, Husband harvested most of the basil before the freeze, and the house smelled like THAT for days. Don't get me wrong--I love basil, but can't eat or smell lots of it at once without getting a headache. He's a great kitchen helper, and whirred the leaves with olive oil and froze them for future use in pestos, etc. And I'm drying some for my Super Secret Italian Mix.

Sweet Marjoram
 The sweet marjoram is growing happily in a large galvanized tub, away from the regular oregano since they tend to cross somehow and end up all tasting the same.  I use small amounts of it in the afore-mentioned Secret Mix and it really makes a difference.

Since we have tons of fresh evergreen rosemary year-round here, I don't rush to harvest it before a freeze. I try to wait until after it blooms, though, but it's not really necessary.  It seems to taste the same, but I like to leave the flowers for the bees. Did I mention we love bees? ;-)

In a former garden in the Texas Hill Country, I grew rosemary as a border around other areas and it did fine on the solid limestone underneath. In my current garden, on the Blackland Prairie soil east of Austin, the bushes grew twice as large in the first two years. Gotta love having "real" dirt!

I do dry some, though, because the flavor is different from the fresh rosemary. A teeny bit of it also goes into the Secret Mix.

As soon as this wind dies down, and I've pulled the bush-that-was-my-hair out of my face, I'll take more photos.

In the meantime, if you have a harvest of your own, check out the short article on How to Dry Herbs in Your Microwave. Bottle some up and give as holiday gifts. People love homegrown mixes!

And if  you're feeling creative, here's how to make a rosemary topiary, from Susan Wittig Albert's Pecan Springs Journal blog.

Happy digging,

bobbi c.

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