Oregano, Thyme and Marjoram (2019)

Over the years I have discovered that I really like growing herbs. They basically take care of themselves, and no matter how busy or overwhelming life gets, there is always some kind of harvest from my neglected herbs. So I recommend even the most beginner gardener grow some herbs. Added bonus, is that even if you leave them to just grow, the bees and other pollinators love their flowers.

I’ve already talked about Savory this year. I’m growing Winter, Summer and ‘Midget’ Summer Savory this year.  So I wanted to mention a few others and why I am growing them.

First off, lets talk Oregano. I’m growing 2 types, or at least I thought I was. I had a pack of “Oregano” seeds from Burpee that I probably got at the grocery store many moons ago, and I just assumed it was Italian Oregano because on the pack it says “Use in Italian Dishes” But then I googled the latin name that is on the pack and apparently it is a Greek Oregano. This is where I get slightly annoyed at the generic names on packs of seeds. I am keeping my eye out for some Mexican Oregano to try next year.

The other oregano I am growing is True Greek Oregano from Renee’s Garden Seeds. I had bought two oregano plants last year, one Greek, one Italian, and there was a pretty big difference in their flavours. I bought the seeds so I could grow it again this year myself.

Why Oregano? It is probably the most used dry herb that we use, so it was a no-brainer to start growing my own instead of buying it all the time. It has also survived winter here a few times, which makes it even more exciting to me. I like things that can take care of themselves.

Next Up: Thyme. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the thyme I have in my garden is going to survive the winter. But I did pick up some German Winter Thyme from Wildrose Heritage Seeds and I am looking forward to growing it and seeing the difference.

Why Thyme? Another well-used herb in our kitchen. I always add it to soups and stews. Its a good idea to think about what you already use regularly when you are thinking of new things to try. Thyme isn’t new to me, but this German Thyme is.

And Lastly, lets talk about the Sweet Marjoram. While its not on my most favourite list (That list is topped by Sage), It is a great addition to Italian seasoning mixes. This seed packet was another old one from Burpee. I just wanted to use up the last of this packet, and will probably pick up some new seed for next year from a seed company that I like a little more.

Why Marjoram? Apart from adding it to my homemade Italian seasoning, I don’t use Sweet Marjoram on its own. So I think I will see how we can incorporate it more into our food. Any suggestions? I’ve read it has a more mild oregano flavour. I’m not new to growing it, but I do want to get better at using it in the kitchen.

 

I’m not sure which herbs I’ll write about next. I will also be sowing Peppers very soon, and then mid March I’ll be starting my tomatoes.

 

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Parsley

I grew 2 types of parsley last year. They were both a bit slow to start and I was worried they wouldn’t germinate because the seeds were pretty old. With patience, they slowly emerged and once we got some heat, they really took off. However, I learned that this is typical of Parsley.

Parsley is one of my favourite herbs to grow. They just have such a fresh and refreshing smell. I don’t use a ton of it fresh in the summer (since I usually just try to survive the heat), but I do dry a bunch of it for using in the winter.

The types I grew:

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‘Plain Leaved’ Parsley (Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds… This pack of seeds I bought in 2013)

and…

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‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley (McKenzie Seeds… bought in 2014)

 

Typically, I just pull them out at the end of the year and start fresh every spring, BUT, Parsley is a Biennial. If I let these try and make it through the winter, I could probably collect my own fresh parsley seed. Since I have two little clumps of each kind of parsley, I may move one of each to an area that I probably wont dig up next spring, and see how they make it. As I am trying to get more experience in saving my own seed, I am eagerly waiting to see if these survived the winter. Later in February or March I might start some new parsley to keep up my herb-drying-for-winter hobby.

How I dry my parsley: You can just go traditional and hang a bundle of them upside down in a dry spot in your house. I use my dehydrator to hasten the process though. I typically do small harvest from a bunch of my herbs at once and stick them all in the dehydrator. Over the summer, I get a pretty decent harvest of dried herbs to use all winter. Think of this herb-growing-and-drying-situation as a slow and steady wins the race thing. Parsley probably gives me the biggest bang for my buck.

  1. You can snip off almost all the leaves… just make sure to leave some so the poor plant can survive and make the energy to make new leaves.
  2. Give them a good wash (later in the summer, the flat leaf variety tends to get aphids on them… so make sure you clean them all off… or enjoy the added protein on your dried parsley i guess?).
    1. Quick dry off between paper towels and then to the next step.
  3. Spread them out evenly on your dehydrator tray
  4. Turn it on… I usually turn the heat to 130F and leave the default timer of 10 hours on. Some of the herbs will take longer than others. Some will be done before 10 hours, some will take longer, it just depends on the moisture in the leaves, and also a little bit about the weather you have.
  5. Once the leaves are dry and crispy, I put them into a plastic sandwich bag, roll them over with a small rolling pin to break them apart a bit. I pull the stems out, and put the parsley bits into a mason jar with the previously dried bits.
  6. I label the lid of the mason jar with the herb name and the year.

 

Sorry for the lack of new photos on this post. I’ll get back into the groove once things are growing again.

My Etsy Shop: Back 40 Woodcraft

Cucumbers for 2016

  
I grew both of these varieties of cucumbers last year, but I don’t think I wrote about them at all. I really should have wrote all the words about them, because they were wonderful. The only thing is, I didn’t have enough plants. That will change this year.

Cucumbers need really rich and fertile soil, so plan out where you are going to grow them. I will be digging some home-made compost in just before I plant these outside. In addition, I grew Peas in this spot last year, so that should have added some usable nitrogen back into the soil, benefiting the cucumbers this year.

They also don’t like the cold, so grow in a greenhouse or wait until after your last frost date. For me, that will be safely in June. I will be watching the 14 day weather forecast to find a good outlook for the seedlings.

Cucumbers don’t like their roots being disturbed very much, so pick appropriate containers to sow into. I will be using home-made newspaper pots. This allows me to plant them straight into the ground, with minimal disturbance. They are also free, which is always a good thing. As far as soil to sow in, I will just be using regular potting soil. I could use seed sowing mix, but it ends up being more economical to use regular (good quality) potting mix rather than splurging on the amount of seed sowing mix that I would need.

I was going to try a new-to-me, larger sized cucumber this year, but then decided to stick to the two varieties I already have on hand and grow them better… and more of them.

I need enough of the pickling cucumbers to make pickling them worth the effort! The Lemon cukes are refreshing and delicious and didn’t even make it into the house last  year.

Varieties:

  • ‘Modern Early’ Cucumber (Heirloom)
    • Days to Maturity: 45
    • I sowed 8 newspaper pots of these on April 24
    • “This pickling variety has short white spined, medium green fruit. Plant outside only after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. This blunt shaped variety doesn’t take too much space in your garden” McKenzie Seeds
  • ‘Lemon’ Cucumber (Heirloom)
    • Days to Maturity: ? Doesn’t Say on Seed Packet
    • I showed 5 newspaper pots of these on April 24.
    • “A true heirloom whose vigorous vines bear abundant crunchy cukes the size and shape of lemons. Flavor is mild and sweet. Tasty and delicious eating either fresh, in salads or for making pickles.” Cornucopia Seeds

These things sprouted in 3 days!! It was incredible! I’ve never had germination this great with cucumbers before!

Are you growing cucumbers this year? What varieties have you chosen?  

  

Volunteer Broad Beans

I wasn’t going to grow Broad beans this year. They are not my most favourite thing. I like the taste of them enough, but mostly I like their flowers, growing habits and soil enhancing abilities.

However, while working on getting the garden organized and ready for planting things, I noticed that I had a handful of broad beans popping up. I never harvested very many of these last year, and obviously wasn’t very diligent in removing the seed pods when I dug the bed up. So they survived winter and started growing.

Things that survive winter instantly make me like them more. I appreciate the tenacity of it I guess.

So these survivors can stay.

Just not where they are currently growing.

So I just moved them. Two are now over by the Jerusalem Artichokes, and the rest are behind the Spring Onions and Elephant Garlic. This is the little Winter Survivors club area.

These 3 were probably all from the same Bean Pod (Great Germination!)

If you are in a similar situation, just take a garden trowel, dig down and lift the little plant up, being careful to not damage the roots. This is much easier if you have loose soil, If you don’t, just be extra diligent about the little plant’s roots. Then you just move them to where you want them. Like potting up other plants, just wait until they have some true leaves and are strong enough to handle the stress, but not so large that they have really set down deeper roots.

I’ll keep you updated in future posts about how these are doing. If you have any suggestions on what I can do with Broad Beans that might help me enjoy them a little more, I would greatly appreciate it.

Variety: ‘Windsor’

The benefit of these seeds surviving the winter and germinating on their own, means that I can continue to save seed of successive generations. This should produce seeds/plants more suited to this ground, and the conditions in my yard.

There, now this Broad Bean is situated in it’s new home

Grow Your Own – Italian Seasoning (Completed)


You may have thought I forgot all about my project last year of growing my own Italian Seasoning… But I didn’t. At least not completely. I did get all the herbs dried and put away in individual bags. I just never got around to adding them all together into a seasoning mix. Or writing a post about drying the herbs here. So here we are, finally, with a wrap up on the Italian Seasoning I grew all by myself! (everything in the photo above came out of my garden!)

Continue reading “Grow Your Own – Italian Seasoning (Completed)”