Gardening 101 Day 11: Top 10 Easy Herbs to Grow & Care For for the Home Gardener~ YOUTUBE Video

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” — Gertrude Jekyll

Welcome to Day11 of my Gardening 101 Series! Today I am going to share with you my Top 10 Favorite & Easy To Grow Herbs & How-to Care for Them for the Home Gardener.

If you missed Days 1 through 10 in this series, be sure to go through my past posts to see them all!

Herbs are by far one of my favorite things to grow! So many of my favorites are perennials and so easy to care for. 

Today I’m going to discuss my Top 10 Herbs & How to Care for them. Herbs are super easy to grow, but do require some care when harvesting and thinning.

Let’s look at my favorite Top 10 Herbs for the Home Gardener and how to care for them!

Check out my YouTube video below to see my favorite herbs & how to care for them! Be sure to LIKE & SUBSCRIBE!

f you missed episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, 8, 9, and 10 of my Gardening 101 series, just click the links!

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to visit me at my YouTube Channel for more recipes & how-to gardening tips & tricks! You won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to subscribe here & there so you don’t miss a beat!

I certainly hope you are encouraged to grow your own food. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start! 

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

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Happy Day,
Jean

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How-to preserve your herbs, & bonus recipes!

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

– Julia Child

My freshly dried basil

Growing your own veggies & herbs is a such blessing! Although having the ability to preserve them is a wonderful use of what you’ve grown & harvested. It helps save a ton of money as herbs can be very expensive, especially organic brands. Whether or not you garden organically, your home grown herbs will taste remarkably richer than any purchased from the store.

The following how-to can be used with just about any herbs you grow. Here are a few processes I want to share with all of you.

Pro tip: You don’t have to wait until the fall to preserve your delicious herbs, you can start early in the spring and work at it all season long! 

As I mentioned there are a few ways to dry your herbs. Let’s look at each one.

Pro tip: You can have herbs all year in cold weather states. In the spring when you are purchasing your seeds, save a few to plant in late summer in pots. You can keep these in your kitchen all winter long.

Pro Tip: De-stemming your herb leaves from the stem is essential for the highest quality finished product. You can see in these photo’s the original stem of basil, then plucking each leaf off. The stems will not dry well and are often times stringy.

For recipes using all your wonderful dried herbs, check out my blog post here: https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/2829

https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/2324

https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/1429

Some seeds do not have a long shelf life when kept at room temperature. If you keep the seeds in your freezer they will have a better chance of germinating. 

1. Using a dehydrator. Your dehydrator will come with instructions and is very easy to use. You can use a dehydrator for all types of herbs as well as fruit! You can even make fruit roll ups! 

2. Place herbs on a cookie sheet and dry in your oven. After you’ve de-stemmed the leaves, place them on a cookie sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven until dry. The length of time will be determined by the size of the leaves.
For example, thyme and oregano leaves will be quicker than basil or parsley as their leaves are larger

Place leaves in a single layer on the cookie sheet so they are not overlapping each other. You do not need to turn the leaves. Check every 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Hanging your herbs to dry in a shady spot works too! You can bundle your herbs with a rubber band and hang them to dry. This generally takes a bit longer to dry as the herbs are more densely packed.

This photo was taken at
Greenfield Village

Pro tip: Don’t hang these in a sunny window as the sun will fade the color of the leaves.

Once the leaves are crumbly to the touch, remove them from the cookie sheet into a shallow bowl; gently crumble the leaves, do not crumble so hard that they become dusty. Think about how herbs look purchased from the store.


4. Besides drying your herbs, you can also freeze some of them. I have found that chives and parsley both freeze well. Most others will turn black and slimy.


Storage: Once you have dried your herbs, you can store them in glass jars with tight fitting lids, freezer storage bags or I like to use half pint jars with cute labels.

Other tips!

Freeze your pesto for use year round! We use pesto for so many recipes. I will make a large batch when my basil and parsley are at their best and then freeze them in half pint jars as these are equivalent to 1 cup which most recipes call for. You can also freeze them in ice cube trays and toss in a freezer bag.

Pro tip: Remember to leave at least an inch headspace when freezing!

Herb infused oils can be rather expensive even though they are so easy to make! Simply pack 2 cups of most any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil.

Pro tip: Olive oil can have a strong taste so I generally only use a few herbs with it. Basil, Thyme, & oregano. I also love to add fresh minced garlic with these. Soooo yummy!

Bonus Herb Salt & Salt Free Recipes

Here are some of my yummy herb salts-less recipes!
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and they won’t even miss the salt!

For each recipe, combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly I even use a mini food processor. Once blended, store each one in a separate airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.

Salt-less Herb Blend

5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great on fish & chicken!

I had to use this pic of Aaron back on the farm after he harvested these onions!!

Italian Blend

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper

Combine all and store in an airtight container. Great in ground beef when making goulash!

Basic Herb Salt

1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil

Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container. Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!

All of these are great Great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried.

If you enjoyed this blog & bonus recipes, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think ! I love your feedback! If you aren’t following me on Facebook go on over & give it a like & follow me for daily tips & tricks for the home and garden! https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

Happy Day,
Jean

Freezing Herbs in Olive Oil

The aromas of fall elate this warm, fuzzy feeling that seems to linger within my soul… I want to hunker down somewhat, but the gardener in me refuses to let go of my love.  The plants are telling me by their exasperated appearance that they’re ready to call it a season…

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“Farewell, our garden matron, it’s been a great year Jean, but now we must depart… see you in the spring!”  I wrestle with this and fight it because deep down in my lonely soul of winter days, I can’t bear the thought of the winter world that will all to soon envelope everything I love.

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So in efforts to capture and hold on…  I ‘put-up’.

I can.

I freeze.

I dry.

I preserve.

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All winter long I can go to the freezer, cupboards and can shelves and remember the feeling of the prickly leaves of zucchini as I carefully reached in and took hold of her bountiful beauty.

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I can look at the jars of salsa and reminisce of summer days strolling through the hoop house and gazing over the Heirloom tomatoes heavy with their colorful fruits.

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Bringing up a jar of vegetable soup and tomato juice… blending their beauties together in a kettle and slowly warming up for all my loved ones. This rich, romantic aroma wafting through our home… but best of all… “Oh mom… that smells sooooo good!” That’s my reward.

Fall.

Harvest.

Food.

Life is good on the farm.

Herbs are such a blessing to any kitchen and as I’ve been showing, extremely easy to preserve. For those of us whose winter months don’t allow for growing, we are able to enjoy the fruits of our labor by preserving.

Here I am harvesting basil

Here I am harvesting basil

Here’s a step-by-step super easy way to freeze your garden herbs in olive oil.  You can use this technique with any herb or combination of herbs.

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STEP 1: Using a 12 compartment cupcake tin, cut 12 squares of plastic wrap to fit into each hole. Be sure they’re large enough
to come up over the rims at least 1 1/2″.
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STEP 2: Filling only one hole at a time, place plastic wrap and press in; Take 1 Tbsp. of herb and place in hole.

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STEP 3: Carefully pour olive oil into hole, filling until level with tin.

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STEP 4: Repeat process until all holes are filled.  Place in freezer for 48 hours to allow oil to completely solidify.

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STEP 5: Lift each ‘puck’ up; if they stick a bit, carefully use the tip of a knife to help it pop out.

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STEP 6: Quickly remove plastic and place them all in a large freezer bag.  It is fine that the herbs and oil separated.

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STEP 7: Store in freezer and enjoy all winter long! Yum!

How to use you herbed oil pucks:
*Toss them into cooked, drained pasta.
*Let thaw in a bowl and use in a pasta salad… yummy fresh herb flavor with that white stuff on the ground.
*Toss in with a stir fry.
*Use to sauté meat for fajitas in.
*Thaw and brush on a roast before putting in the oven.
*Use when frying potatoes for home fries.
… and of course, like I always say, the uses are only limited by your imagination!

You can also do these in ice cube trays, but for my size family… that’s kinda’ funny 😉
Happy Day,
Jean

Harvesting Herbs: Tips to get the most yield from your herbs, yummy herb butter recipes

My soul belongs in the garden… it seems the only place that I can truly find the peace that I’m longing for is there in the rich, soothing soil. All my cares seem to fade away as I stroll through and become absorbed with the beauty that surrounds me.

The colors. The patterns. The shapes. The intricacies. No human could recreate these miracles that His mighty hand has designed. Perfection.

My beloved Potager

My beloved Potager

The sound of bees buzzing in the Potager… a low hummmmmmm. They’re busily doing their work, faithfully pollinating the blossoms that will all too soon be peppers, tomatoes, eggplants that we’ll finally feast on after a long winter… we’ll again eat of the bounty our gardens provide from our tender nurturing.

"White Rose Bud", by Jean Smith

“White Rose Bud”, by Jean Smith

The aromas… those of musk and sweetness mingled together in a moment inhaled that only a rose can exude. The herbs. My legs gently brush their delicate leaves. The intense licorice of basil… Lemon grass’ eloquent citrus scent… Chives don’t want to be forgotten; her oniony promise while we wait for the real thing. Parsley, marjoram, ohhh and thyme… I love to stop and strip a few of her leaves off, roll them between my fingers feeling the precious oils soften my fingertips… then bringing the bruised herb up to my noes… inhale. Richness. The wise men of old knew the value of these garden treasures.

Fresh herbs growing

Fresh herbs growing

Perfectness… It’s a feast for the senses. My garden, my faithful friend..

My Tree Frog, by Jean Smith

I was relaxing in the patio today reading a new garden memoir and there and behold a tiny tree frog nestled on the patio chair across from me. Some of you may be thinking, “ewhhhh”, but not me… I named him Norman and greeted my fellow garden friend and went on reading. Before long he hopped down over beside my leg… well, I had to get my camera- it’s not usually too far from my grasp, but I for some reason left it in the house. So I dashed in and grabbed it. Norman was waiting. I picked him up… to his dismay, yet he patiently let me take his photo.

The birds are so chattery right now…and I am loving this moment… Peace. In my gardens.

I’m passionate about herbs as most of my dragonfly readers know. Recently I posted info on preserving them… well today lets discuss harvesting your herbs.

Here’s a few tips to help you in your harvesting!

*The leaves of herbs are most flavorful when harvested before the plant begins to flower. If you aren’t able to get to your herbs and you notice they are beginning to form flower buds, simply cut the buds back. This will provide you with a bit more time to get them harvested.

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*You can pick individual leaves or whole stems or branches. Small leafed herbs are easier to pick by the stem or branch such as thyme, marjoram, tarragon, fennel, rosemary and oregano. Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley and sage are larger leafed, but can be done in stems as well. I personally harvest all by cutting branches.

Stems are sometimes easier to pic off then individual leaves

Stems are sometimes easier to pic off then individual leaves

*Chives should be cut as close to the ground as possible.

*Pick most herbs, with the exception of basil, in the morning after the morning dew has dried. Basil, seems to keep longer and fresher when picked in the late afternoon.

*Harvest annual herbs right until they are killed by frost or bolt (flower and set seed). To prevent bolting, keep them trimmed back.

*Stop heavy harvesting of perennial herbs about six weeks before your fall frost date. This will allow the plants a chance to harden up before the cold weather sets in. Mulching them will help protect more tender perennials in cold climate areas.

Herb butters add a lovely finishing touch to cooked veggies, fish or chicken and are so easy to make!  All you need to do is beat your favorite fresh or dried herbs into some softened butter, cover with some plastic wrap and chill until you’re ready to serve it up!
Here are some yummy Herb Butter Recipes to try this year!

Lemon & Fennel Butter ~ the flavor of fennel goes very well with fish or grilled corn on the cob!
1 Stick salted butter, softened
2 tbsp. chopped fennel fronds
zest of half lemon, grated
1/8 tsp. pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until thoroughly blended; pat into a roll about the size of a tangerine, cover with plastic wrap and chill.  When ready to serve, cut into chunks~ very cute!

Cilantro & Scallion Butter
~ Use this on some new potatoes and enjoy the sweet savor of scallions blended with the pungency of cilantro!
1 Stick salted butter, softened
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
1 scallion (green onion) finely chopped.
Follow prep method above.

Chive Pepper Butter ~ So yummy on grilled chicken or roasted cod fillets!
1 stick salted butter, softened
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. mixed peppercorns, lighted crushed
Follow prep method above.

Happy Day,
Jean