musings while putting the gardens to bed

by Michelle

Drying Summer Herbs

We spent the weekend putting the gardens to bed. Cut back, weeded, tagged and tilled; the garden beds are ready to rest for the next six months. While I worked I thought…

Intentional productivity, make-work project, living off the land – call it what you want – trying to grow and preserve food for the winter is HARD WORK. I’m no slouch but while my, small by farming standards, vegetable and herb gardens needed harvesting, I found myself fantasizing about store-bought. I can’t believe I just typed that…

Truthfully, we eat lots of store-bought foods. Our meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable and dry goods are predominately purchased.  Part of what fuels my passion for our farm is the idea of reducing what we have to buy. Taking responsibility for our food will help me to eliminate artificial preservatives from our diets. My food gardens have zero chemicals. Absolutely nothing synthetic comes into contact with my herb or vegetable garden. Not sure what might be air-borne I use well and rain water so no chlorine. I make my own homemade bug killer[ it really doesn’t work that well] which is why there are holes in my leaves. The down side to not using chemicals is I’ve given up trying to grow potatoes. No matter how early I got up to start picking off potato beetles I couldn’t get ahead of them. My potato plants were obliterated. There are pesticide-free farmers out there growing potatoes. I’ll be a customer…

To date, I’ve been successful with raspberries, tomatoes, carrots, parsnip, turnip, corn, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, beans, peas, beets[they took three years to figure out], fennel, black currants, apples, sunflowers [I keep the seeds] and every herb I’ve planted. My fails include: the afore-mentioned hateful potato, Brussel sprouts, onions, shallots, garlic[I planted it at the wrong time of year] eggplant, celery, cabbage[full of bugs], squash[possibly due to Ralph mowing over it] and believe it or not rhubarb. I know, it grows anywhere just not anywhere I’ve planted it.

Drying Summer Herbs

I’m not giving up. Next year, my finicky vegetables will be planted in raised beds. I’ll have more control over the soil yada, yada, yada… I also want to grow artichoke.

We’ll see.

At the end of the day, if I’m going to all this trouble to grow clean food it would be pointless if I didn’t preserve as much of it as I can. Pickling, jamming, drying, blanching, freezing, pestos, sauces and salsas lead me back to my opening statement, “it’s hard work.” But work that I love. Devoting my attention to creating a space that will feed us well and taking the time to pick, peel, chop, and prepare food for the winter grounds me.

Drying Summer Herbs

At this point in my life, I want every day to be inspired. I want to feel present and I want to slow down.

Inspiration – tons

Present – absolutely

Still working on slowing down…

Drying Summer Herbs 3

One of the loveliest harvest jobs is drying herbs. Even if you don’t have an herb garden, you can still dry herbs. Bundle grocery store bunches with elastic bands and hang them upside down in a dry place until the leaves are completely dry. You can store your dried herb bunches whole or crumble the leaves off their stem and store in a well sealed jar.

Thanks for reading