Time to harvest

Once again, it’s time to harvest our herbs and pop it all into the freezer for the winter months. We have chives, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and sage to make room for in the freezer.

This year, instead of freezing the parsley flat in a freezer bag, I followed different instructions.

Parsley

After checking carefully for caterpillars and washing the parsley well, I removed thicker stems and old leaves.

It went into small freezer bags, tucked down firmly, then rolled into a cigar shape. The bag was rolled around the parsley squeezing out as much air as possible, then sealed.

All it needed was an ID and a rubber band… and voila! Fresh parsley is ready for mister gardener’s gourmet dinners all winter. He can just slice off as much as he wants. Easy-Peasy!

freezer parsley

The Greening of New Hampshire

Finally…. we’re seeing progress. Two odd days with temperatures in the 80’s (one of them possibly 90°) took care of the inch of permafrost and snow in a border that never sees the sun. I could finally plant the pansies and my mesclun mix lettuce.

April 9, Snow in Border

2017

Mesclun Mix, 2017

I’ve raked, edged, added organic compost, top dressed with a bit of mulch, pruned shrubs, planted more grass seed, and mister gardener has disposed of  wheelbarrow loads of debris. Garden gloves have been worn, wash, worn, and washed and ready to be worn again.

garden gloves 2017

Jacob’s Ladder is going gangbusters, growing tiny leaflets that are rising like ladders and should bloom with tiny blue flowers in early spring.

Polemonium caeruleum, 2017

Tulips and daffodils aren’t up all the way but are all showing green… along with tiny leaves of nepeta ‘Walkers Low’ just breaking the surface in the background below, plants with purple-blue flowers that take a ‘licking but keep on ticking’ all summer long.

bulbs, 2017

Herb garden with thyme, savory, chives, oregano, parsley, sorrel, rosemary and lots of lettuce are basking in the sun and seem to grow an inch a day.

The indoor geraniums went into pots in the garden….maybe a tad early as we dipped to 32° last night. This morning they are a little limp but will make it. I’ll just have to be better about watching those overnight temperatures.

So far, besides the pansies, the only color other than green in the garden is yellow. The sweet crocus is in bloom telling us spring has officially arrived.

crocus

 

Freezing Basil and Dill

I freeze my favorite herbs in batches all summer and at season’s end, I have enough to last the entire winter. Two of my favorite herbs are basil and dill. Yesterday was Freeze a Batch day for these herbs. There are a slew of methods out there for preserving herbs… air drying, oven drying, blanching, freezing in oil or water, freezing whole, but I simply do it my way, always the same way. I find that herbs done this way stay flavorful and tasty until I can harvest from the garden next year.

Basil:

Basil

I pinch down my basil plants before they can form blooms and that makes them nice and bushy for a while. When we have more basil that we can use, I take a few stems early in the day and remove the leaves. I rinse them, drain, then rough chop in a food processor.

basil/food processsor

Into a zip lock freezer bag they go with a bit of water. I spread the basil thin and squeeze out as much air possible and zip it shut. Freeze. To use, just squeeze out and break off as much as you need. That’s all, folks!

Dill:

Some can’t tolerate the pungent taste of dill but it’s one of my favorite herbs. I love dill dip, dill with salmon, dill and cucumber salad and more. mister gardener has a hundred ways to use this herb in recipes.

Harvest early in the day, picking leaves from stems. Rinse, drain, and place between paper towels for about a half hour until completely dry.

IMG_5292

Mince the dry dill and drop it into a zip lock bag and freeze.

IMG_5297

When a recipe calls for dill, just sprinkle out the amount of frozen dill needed.

dill

Easy peasy, yes?  Now we have chives, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage to freeze..

Gardening in January

New Hampshire winters arrive early and by the time January rolls around we are yearning for green. So earlier this month we made an attempt to create a bay window herb garden in the kitchen even though we must deal with the low light winter sun and temperature fluctuations next to the window.

Selecting an attractive planter was my job. No plastic planter on my windowsill! I wanted metal and I found the ideal trough at Terrain, one of my favorite online stores. The dark zinc metal tough is 36″ long, 5″ wide, and 4″ high and fits perfectly in the bay window.

Habit & Form Troughmister gardener was in charge of buying and planting herbs. We now have chives, basil, oregano, and sage growing in the kitchen and being used in cooking. Because they aren’t getting the needed 6 hours of sunlight, we supplement with a grow light.  So far, so good.

We are now satisfying our need to dig and tend a garden and mister gardener is having fun with our herbs elsewhere in the kitchen.

carrot soup

Carrot soup garnished with fresh chives from the new kitchen garden

Quick Carrot Ginger Soup

2 T. butter
7 large carrots
1 large onion
1 t. minced ginger
2 c. vegetable stock
2 c. water
1 t. orange zest
salt and white pepper
chopped chives for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot. Add carrots, onions and salt and stir until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add chicken stock, water, ginger and orange zest. Bring to a simmer, cover until the carrots thoroughly soften, about 20 minutes. Remove the orange zest and discard.  Add the soup to a blender in very small batches holding the lid down and purée until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped chives.

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Freezing Chives and Other Herbs

In Virginia’s zone 7b, milder climate allowed us harvest our herbs year round. But that is not the case in New Hampshire. Since we are now living in the land of ice and snow, we must beat old man winter to the punch by freezing our herbs indoors.

It is easy-peasy! After washing and drying, picking out the dead stems, and chopping chives, I like to freeze them flat in quart-size freezer bags, squeeze out all the air, and simply break off the amount I need for garlic bread, soups, casseroles, deviled eggs… you name it.

I do the same thing with my other herbs: parsley, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.

chiveschopped chivesquart bags/chivesThere are other methods of freezing herbs. Check out some neat ways that Margaret Roach at A Way to Garden freezes her herbs.