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:

img_9313

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

and…

img_9314

‘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

Advertisements

Savory – Winter & Summer – What is the difference?

Over the years, I have become especially fond of growing herbs. Especially herbs that are a little harder to find in stores. Like savory for example.

Savory is one that is a little harder to find in the store. And its not typically differentiated on which one you are buying, its just labelled as ‘Savory’. I have also had a hard time finding “winter savory’ as seed from the big available-in-most-stores, or as started plants from garden centres.

Finally, I found some seeds for Winter Savory. I actually found them from a few different Canadian seed companies, but chose to buy them from “Wildrose Heritage Seed Company” because they are a local Alberta company.

While this will be my first year growing Winter Savoy, I have grown Summer Savory a few years now. I wanted to take this time in the winter while I’m using all my will power to not start my seeds too early, to write down some differences between the two. We can all learn together, and I will try to be on-top of writing here this whole year, and I plan on documenting the differences.

  • Latin Names
    • Winter: “Satureja montana”
    • Summer: “Satureja hortensis”
  • Life Span
    • Winter: Perennial (I’ve read that it is perennial to zone 4, so I’m right on the cusp. It may not survive if we have a really long harsh winter here)
    • Summer: Annual

I can’t speak on the difference in growth or flavour of the different kinds yet, but I really hope to document my experience with them this year. If I’m on the ball, I’ll come back and link to the updates I do get done later this year. For now, all I have photo-wise is the one at the bottom of this post of the seed packets.

Here is the Winter savory I’ll be growing this year. They also sent me a free sample (with the rest of my seed order) of their Midget Summer Savory too, so I’ll be growing that as well. I also still have a pack of old Summer Savory seed from McKenzie seeds, that I bought in 2014. As I was going through my seed collection, I found a new pack of Summer Savory seed from West Coast Seed. I forgot I bought it last year, so that this year I would have some new seed… Thanks past self.

I’ll be starting these in the next few days. By the time the little seedlings need more room for their roots, it should be warm enough outside for them. If you have any experience with the difference between Winter and Summer Savory, share them in the comments below.

‘Red Beard’ Onions

img_9285

I wrote about these onions last year, but I never ended up hitting “Publish” on it, so I wanted to share it now. Last year I got a late start to the seed sowing, and I had started these on April 4, BUT they didn’t get much of a chance to really take off. They grew, and I left them in the ground to see if they survive the winter.  So because of last year’s slow start, I started these on January 24th this year. This should give them enough of a head start that I can get something worth harvesting this year.

There isn’t a big  write-up about them on the seed packet (which, as you can see in the photo above is from McKenzie seeds. This is what the packet write-up says: “This easy-to-grow bunching onion produces tender and flavourful red stalks. Plants produce stalks 12cm x 1.5cm (4.7″ x 0.5″) in diameter.”

Because I have been so intrigued by this variety, I did a bit of googleing. Originally from wild alliums from China and Kazakhstan, it was brought to Europe around the middle ages, and to England in the 1600’s. Like other bunching or spring onions, they are perennial, but are typically grown as an annual. And of course, the reason why I wanted to try them, is that they have red-purple stalks combined with bright green foliage.

While Onions are not my most favourite veg. I quite likegrowing them. They stand up to a bit of cold, which is an ideal thing around here, where mother nature has a habit of bipolar mood swings. Also the flowers. Bees love them, and they are different compared to most of the flowers I grow.

Herbs (From Seed) 2018

April 8th. We had another bout of snow. It is getting really old at this point. I really hope that Mother Nature has a beautiful Summer and long warm fall in store for us this year.

With the snow outside, I was in the mood to sow some more seeds. So this time around, is Herbs.

A few years ago, I made my own “Italian Seasoning” and it was one of my favourite things that I did that  year. Herbs kind of take care of themselves once they are in a spot they like, so they can be a great beginner project. Additionally, there are quite a few that can be perennial so you don’t need to start fresh every single year. Last year, a bunch of my herbs all survived the winter (which was pretty mild – unlike this year), and I’m hoping they survive again.

I’m going to type out each description from the seed packets, Same as I have done for most seed sowing I’ve done this year.

  • Stevia
    • West Coast Seeds (2018)
    • “This amazing plant’s leaves have extracts said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. The plant, which does well in the border or in containers, grows to 60 cm (24″) tall with clusters of tiny, but attractive white flowers emerging from every stem”
    • I tried growing Stevia from seed last year (or the year before) and they just fizzled out before it was even warm enough to go outside. I’m hoping this year will be better.
  • Catnip
    • McKenzie Seeds (2018)
    • “Cats love the minty aroma. Dry leaves can be used in cat toys or sprinkled sparingly on cat food. Prefers well drained soil. Harvest flowers before seeds set and dry in a dark, well ventilated place. Can also be grown indoors. Perennial. Zone 3”
    • If you want to grow cat nip too, I recommend having a strong cover on it to protect it from all the neighbourhood cats (or your own cat). The last 2 years, the catnip I had was growing well, and then was ravaged and killed early because of all the cat activity.
  • Lemon Balm
    • McKenzie Seeds (2015)
    • “Bushy perennial plant with light green leaves that has a lemon scent and lemon-mint flavored leaves. Use with soups, meats, fish, sauces and salads. Transplants well. Harvest leaves anytime. For drying, harvest leaves in the early morning. Dry quickly to retain flavour. Heirloom. Perennial. Zone 4.”
    • Lemon Balm is one of my favourites to grow, just to pinch the leaves and smell them. I don’t particularly love tea, but just the scent of this plant fills me with so much joy.
  • Oregano (‘Origanum vulgare hirtum’)
    • Burpee Seeds (2014)
    • “Use as a spicy flavouring in tomato sauces, egg and cheese dishes, vegetable stews, meat and chicken dishes and pizza. Annual”
    • I only sowed one peat pellet of the Oregano, but I figured that I can just buy a quick plant in the spring to supplement my herb garden if this one doesn’t take off.
  • Sweet Marjoram (‘Origanum marjorana’)
    • Burpee Seeds (2014)
    • “Leaves add flavour, fresh or dry to soups, dressings, beans and meat dishes. Annual”
  • Thyme
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “Ideal for flavouring meats, fish, stuffing, stews and soups. Sow indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Transplant to a well-drained area in the garden. Ready to harvest in 85 days”
    • The Thyme I started in 2016, survived winter and I enjoyed using it fresh all summer. I started one peat pellet of this as a back-up in-case the Survivor-Thyme doesn’t make it through this much harsher winter.
  • Summer Savory
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “The leaves have a sharp, peppery thyme flavor that is well suited for bean dishes, meat pies, poultry dressings, salads, soups and caseroles. Prefers well drained soil. Keep moist. Pack soil around stem to prevent plants from falling. Pick leaves anytime after plant is established. For drying, cut off entire plant just before flowering and hang to dry. Annual”
    • My Summer Savory also survived winter last year, despite it saying that it is an annual. I don’t expect it to survive again this year, and finding this herb as a plant can be hit or miss. I’ve found it at the walmart garden centre one year, and then never again.
  • ‘Cinnamon’ Basil
    • McKenzie Seeds (2015)
    • “A native to Mexico, the leaves have a spicy cinnamon flavor; flowers are deep pink with purple bracts. Add to hot beverages for added taste. Start seeds at anytime for indoor use. Plants require an organically rich, well drained soil. Expect your first harvest 5-6 weeks after sowing. Sensitive to frost. Annual”
    • While I have a collection of a few different varieties of basil, I picked this one out of the bunch, for the same reason as the Lemon Balm… Just to sniff the leaves. It also has beautiful little flowers that the bees loved the year that I grew this before.
  • ‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “Dense fine foliage, closely curled, very dark green. Excellent for flavouring soups, salads, stews or as a garnish and very good for freezing. Hasten germination by soaking seeds for 24 hours in luke-warm water. Biennial. Prefers partial shade.”
    • Parsley is one of my favourite herbs to grow and then dry for use in the Kitchen. It stays a beautiful green through the drying and keeps wonderfully.
  • ‘Plain Leaved’ Parsley
    • Mr. Fothergills’s Seeds (2013)
    • “Flat leaves superior in flavour. Cold hardy. Use in salads, soups, on fish and poultry.”
    • Like I said above, Parsley is a favourite. And this flat leaf type does dry for kitchen use much better than the curled type, but I do like having both types in the garden.

I will also be growing Dill and if I can find a plant, some Chocolate Mint.

 

 

 

Peas & Beans (2017)

This is a super low-photo post, but I hope to update you all once things start growing.

PEAS

Initially, I planned to get the Peas sown around the beginning of May (as they can take a little cold and frost). But, as you can tell, I’m writing this post on May 22, and I just finally got around to sticking them into the ground yesterday.

I was going to sow a few different varieties. I do have a good collection of seed to pick and choose from. However, I stopped myself at 2 varieties because I was struggling to find homes for them all. I had some self seeded peas popping up, conveniently right where I wanted to put a little tee-pee. Since they are probably ‘Sugar Snap’, I sowed more ‘Sugar Snap’ around them.


The second variety is ‘Blauwschokkers Blue Podded Pea‘. I grew them last year, and while they are not the best tasting pea, they are beautiful. Plus, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I never got around to tasting them as a mature, podded pea.

BEANS

Since I never got around to sowing any Beans last year, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss them this year. Beans are one of my favourite garden treats. I sowed 4 different climbing/Pole varieties, and 2 different bush varieties. Since some of my seed is quite old, I over seeded in the hopes of good germination.

Bean Varieties this year (and some quick notes in the brackets):

  • ‘Enorma’ Runner Bean (green with HUGE pods, if you let them grow)
  • ‘Cobra’ French Climbing Bean (green beans… delicious taste, lots of beans)
  • ‘Trofino Violetta’ Pole Bean (beautiful purple beans. Personal Favourite)
  • ‘Scarlet Emperor’ Runner Bean (green beans, large pods if you let them grow….with beautiful red flowers)
  • ‘Royal Burgundy’ Bush Bean (deep purple, good taste, LOTS of beans)
  • ‘Gold Rush’ Bush Bean (yellow beans… First year growing them)

I am always amazed at how different beans are. Since my hands were covered in dirt, I didn’t manage to get a photo to show you just how different they all were, although I wanted to. I would recommend grabbing a few different kinds of beans for your own garden. You can grow a rainbow of varieties. You’ll never want beans from the store after you have grown your own. Bonus… they are one of the easiest things to grow.

img_6894
Sometimes getting photos is hard when the feline is starved for attention. Such a good helper-cat. 😉

Someday I will have a HUGE garden where I can have more than a handful of each plant.