Tag Archives: herbs

Bugs Bugging You? Help is on the way

Cucumber Magic: If grubs and slugs are ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices of cucumber in a small aluminum pie pan, place it in your garden and soon your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
{Disclaimer: I don’t know if this really works, but, it’s worth a try.}

Dalmatian Pyrethrum Chrysan-themum cinerarifolium. This variety of chrysanthemum is the source for many natural insecticides for flying and crawling insects. It is one of the least harmful to mammals or birds, but the dried flowers of the pyrethrum daisy will kill or stun the insects the moment it touches them. It is one of the safest pesticides to use on pests and their bedding to keep fleas and ticks away. The powder is the result of drying and crushing the flowers.

English Pennyroyal Mentha pulegium. A small-leaved herb that has spikes of lavender flowers, pennyroyal is a member of the mint family. Ground pennyroyal is one of the most effective tick deterrents available. Dust powder made from the leaves around areas where the pet sleeps and plays.

Feverfew Chrysanthemum parth-enium. Feverfew blooms midsummer through fall. The flower heads are used to make a pesticide to kill many pest insects.

Lavender Lavandula angustifolia. All of us know lavender as a beautiful aromatic herb that is used to scent food, soaps, cosmetics and many other products. If you dry bunches of lavender and hang them in the closet, they will repel moths and make your clothes smell good at the same time.

Lemon Basil Ocimum basilcum v. citriodorum. An aromatic herb with small pretty flowers and lemony fragrance, lemon basil is a fine culinary herb. When planted in the garden close to tomatoes, it deters white flies.

Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris. Mugwort leaves are used to repel moths. They can be made into sachets or dried and hung in the top of the closet.

Peppermint Mentha piperita. Peppermint helps repel ants, aphids, cabbage lopers, flea beetles, cabbage worms, squash bugs and white flies. Plant it near susceptible plants or make a tea from the crushed leaves and spray it on infested plants.

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis. Rosemary leaves dried and powdered are used as a flea and tick repellent. Dust the powder around where your pet sleeps.

Sage Salvia officinalis. Sage is helpful planted next to cabbage to improve the taste and repel cabbage worms and moths.

Tansy Tanacetum vulgare. Leaves are used to repel ants and moths in sachets or when strewn around. The small yellow flowers are used in potpourri.

Wormwood Artemisia absinithium. Grows tall with gray silky foliage and spikes of small flowers. Powdered dust made from the leaves and sprinkled on plants and soil will deter many insects. It is not toxic; the bugs just don’t like the fragrance.

Tansy, rue and anise are good at repelling aphids, a perennial garden pest. Chamomile and hyssop will help discourage cabbage moths on your cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Basil and dill planted near your tomato plants will help keep tomato hornworms away. Dill and fennel are also good food plants for butterflies, particularly the swallowtail. They lure the caterpillars from other plants.

Beetles and squash bugs on your squash and cucumbers, plant mint, oregano or tansy nearby. Catnip and savory will discourage flea beetles and bean beetles on your bean plants, parsley and rosemary will keep carrot flies away from your carrots.

You can used dried herbs to make fragrant potpourri or sachets that will repel insects in the closet or storage chests.
Mint, rosemary, rue, tansy, thyme, wormwood, southernwood, lavender, pennyroyal and lemon geranium are all excellent at repelling moths that get into your winter clothes.
Put the dried herbs in a cloth bag {cheese cloth} that is loosely woven enough to let the air circulate and let it hang from a hanger in the closet or tuck it into a drawer or chest for the summer. When it comes time to get out your winter clothes, they’ll smell good and be moth-free.

Herbs make common foods taste special

Most herbs will do well in container gardens and window boxes. If they are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them cooking and serving every meal.

Sage does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody too soon. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted after about 3 years since it will become woody stems with little leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them safe after drying you will have that wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects. Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so I feel that each harvest yields two separate things: leaves and stems. Keep the stems in a freezer bag in my freezer and use them for grilling skewers. Since rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water but likes to dry out between watering, I think that being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you can be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an often undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs! It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub-like plants that enhance an entrance, and its tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, you can see how well thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from the gardener. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. If you are trying to keep your varieties pure, cross pollination is easy to do if the strains are too close together. Containers can be placed far enough away from one another to keep your pineapple mint from suddenly tasting like catnip-pineapple mint. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is also so tasty, it can be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers
Fresh or Frozen Soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Leaves/Flowers
Fresh or Dried Game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Leaves/Fresh or Dried
Chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegars, salads, mustards, sauces hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar, Soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Leaves/Fresh or Dried
Sauces white and tomato, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegars.

Rosemary Leaves/Fresh or Dried
Beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Sage Leaves/Flowers Fresh or Dried
Stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s and fresh garden salads.

Soil Temperature is more important than calendar date

Soil Temperature is the true key for better and quicker seed germination. Soil Temperature is equally important when your plant seedlings. With the right soil temperature seedlings will quickly send out roots and become well established healthy plants.

To day my soil temperature at 4 inch depth is 48%. Time to plant cool weather loving crops like onions and garlic for fall harvest.

Here is a planting chart with some of the more common garden crops and the best soil temperature to plant.

Seed Package Terminology

What ‘Seed Package Terminology’ really means to gardeners.
Posted by Ann-Marie on Gab

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Herbs are expensive – Grow your own

Herbs Fresh or Dried purchased from your local Supermarket or Farmers Market are exceeding expensive.

These are sample prices taken from Walmart:
Litehouse Basil Freeze Dried Herbs $15.00 an ounce

McCormick Gourmet Organic Crushed Rosemary, $4.45 an ounce

Litehouse Chives $17.00 an ounce

Litehouse Parsley $14.00 an ounce

McCormick Gourmet Organic Thyme $7.60 an ounce

The best solution is to grow your own Herbs. Herbs take up little space and are very forgiving if neglected.
Most herbs will do well in containers, window boxes and planted directly in your garden soil.
If herbs are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them when cooking and serving meals.

Herbs Make Common Foods Taste Special

Sage is a herb that does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted about every 3 years since it will become woody with few leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them dry and in a dark place after drying. You will have wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Sage Use leaves flowers fresh or dried with stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects.
Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so each harvest yields two separate herb crops. 1)leaves and 2)stems.
Keep the stems in a freezer bag and use them for grilling skewers. Rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water it likes to dry out between watering. Being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most popular and rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you must be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs!
It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub like plants that enhance an entrance to your home. It’s tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from gardeners. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is so tasty, it will be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers Use in fresh or frozen soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Use leaves flowers with fresh or dried wild game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Use leaves fresh or dried with chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegar’s, salads, mustard’s, hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar sauce, soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Use leaves fresh or dried
in white and tomato sauces, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegar’s.

Rosemary Use leaves fresh or dried
with beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s, snack dips and fresh garden salads.

Quick and Easy Winter Soup

Leek and potato soup:

2 – large leeks
2 – medium potatoes peeled and course chopped
1 – pint stock – or use 1 – stock cube (use the stock you like, beef, chicken or vegetable)
Salt (Taste ‘Before) adding salt, stock often contains salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white or black pepper
Optional 2 – tablespoons butter
Optional – fresh mushrooms course chopped (thin sliced)

Course slice leeks and sauté them in 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil or melted butter.
Pour in the stock, add the potatoes and mushrooms. Simmer for about 25 minutes.
Soup is ready when the potatoes are soft and tender.
Top off with additional stock if needed.
Optional – Make this into a ‘cream’ soup. Blend in 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of cream. Do not boil.
Serve warm with toasted buttered garlic bread or saltine crackers.

Chili soup:

1 – 15 ounce can Wolf brand chili (with or without beans)
15 – ounces water
1 – Tablespoon chili powder
1 – Tablespoon dried oregano

Optional: 2 – tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Optional: 1 – tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
Optional: 1 or 2 – fine diced fresh hot or mild green or red pepper.
Optional: Fine diced onion to taste.

Heat chili soup to a simmer.

Serve hot topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, warm soft flour tortilla’s, corn chips or saltine crackers.
Optional: Serve with a side dipping dish of green or red salsa hot or mild, the kind you like.

Chili pepper consumption could help you live longer

hot-red-pepper Chili pepper report The American Heart Association said “research has suggested that regular chili pepper consumers could have longer lifespans due to the fruit’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer and blood-glucose regulating properties. These factors play a role in reducing a person’s risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease or cancer.

570,000 health records were included in these studies, which included people from the U.S., Italy, China and Iran. The people who ate chili peppers regularly had a 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality; 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality; and 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

Chili Texas style basic starter recipe

First posted October 23, 2010
Chili seems to one of these terms that are thrown about and apply to many different thing. In the Southwestern United States  Chili will most likely be a spicy meat dish, ground or small diced beef. Across the border in Mexico the term Chili will most likely be applied to one or more different varieties of mild to very hot’ pepper dishes.

Cooling weather and cold winds of winter is Chili weather calling for a large pot to be placed on the fire and the slow cooking possess started for a big bowl of spicy meat Chili.
Start with beef stew meat that is course chopped or ground beef. Good chili meat should contain a bit of fat not being to lean. In Texas Chili is always made from beef and if you add beans or other foreign ingredients like rice to the pot it can’t be called Chili. In the south and southeast states, pork is often used as the main meat ingredient for chili.

Chili is served with a side of cornbread or saltine crackers or soft flour tortillas. {Google making homemade tortillas, it’s simple fast and easy.} You may also add additional hot sauce or fresh hot pepper but for your own safety taste your Chili before adding more hot pepper or sauce.

Warning: Never, Never ask for ketchup! Some chili cooks have been known to ban customers who ordered ketchup with a bowl of chili. Sometimes refusing them service as well. Chili cooks are a serious bunch that take great pride in their ‘secret’ chili recipes.

This is a good starter recipe and should be adapted and modified to the taste you and your family like.

Some people I know even add grated long horn cheddar cheese at the table.
If your ingredients are not fresh they don’t belong in your Chili pot.

2 tablespoons melted lard or good quality cooking oil of your choice.
5 cloves garlic, minced {If you can’t finely mince garlic, beat the hell out of it with the flat side of a big knife or meat cleaver} or add 1 teaspoon garlic powder or flakes
2 medium size onions, diced, course diced is better than a finely diced onion {strong flavored spicy yellow onions are best}
1 1/2 – 2 pound(s) course ground or chopped beef
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt {a little salt goes a long way in a chili pot, error on to little salt. You can always add salt at the table if need.}
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pure mild red chili powder [chili spice mix will work if you don’t have pure chili powder.]
1 tablespoon hot red chili powder or chili pepper [chili spice mix will work if you don’t have pure chili powder.]
4 Roma tomatoes blanched, peeled and course diced
1/2 cup tomato paste {tomato sauce will not work as well as tomato paste}
1/2 cup beef stock
1 cup dark beer {or what ever kind your drinking while cooking your Chili}
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced fresh Mexican oregano {Italian oregano will do if you don’t have Mexican oregano} If you don’t have fresh oregano use 1 table spoon of dry oregano.
* Add as many or as few course chopped, Hot or mild fresh Red or Green Peppers as you like to to get the hotness and flavor you are looking for. [Bell pepper has no place in a chili pot.]

To prepare the chili, heat the lard or oil in a large saucepan {a cast iron  4 quart or larger pot with lid works well.} Add garlic and onions, sauté [fancy word meaning to cook slowly] over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add the beef and sauté for 8 – 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until all the beef is browned. Drain off excess fat.

Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chili peppers and chili powder, cook for 2 or 3 minutes more. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, beer, vinegar, cumin and stir well to combine. { If you have any ingredients left over throw them in the pot as well.}

If you have beans with your chili, serve a bowl of pinto beans  or [kidney beans] as aside dish. You have a great deal invested in your Chili pot, don’t screw it up now by adding something weird like rice or beans to your chili pot. In the southern states rice is often used as a pinto bean replacement side dish.

Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, and cook very slowly, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour {add more beer, beef stock or water as needed}. Uncover cook 15 minutes or more until it is nice and thick. Chili should be thick like a good beef stew not watery like cucumber soup! [To thicken watery chili add a bit of corn starch at the end of cooking before serving.]

I should add this note, some chili cooks may simmer their chili pot up to 10 or 12 hours adding a little beer, water or beef stock as need. You decide what process is best for you and your family. Long cooking makes a better tasting chili dish.

Please remember this is a basic starter chili recipe and you may want to adjust spices to your taste.

Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be shy. Leave me your Comment(s)

Herbs add flavor to any food dish

Reworked, updated first posted 2015.

Herbs Make Common Foods Taste Special

Most herbs will do well in containers, window boxes and planted directly in your garden soil.
If herbs are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them when cooking and serving meals.

Sage is a herb that does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted about every 3 years since it will become woody with few leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them dry and in a dark place after drying. You will have wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects.
Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so each harvest yields two separate herb crops. 1)leaves and 2)stems.
Keep the stems in a freezer bag and use them for grilling skewers. Rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water it likes to dry out between watering’s. Being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you must be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs!
It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub like plants that enhance an entrance to your home. It’s tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from gardeners. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is also so tasty, it will be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers Use in fresh or frozen soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Use leaves flowers with fresh or dried wild game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Use leaves fresh or dried with chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegars, salads, mustards, sauces hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar, soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Use leaves fresh or dried
in white and tomato sauces, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegars.

Rosemary Use leaves fresh or dried
with beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Sage Use leaves flowers fresh or dried
with stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s, snack dips and fresh garden salads.

Hardy, Tasty – Fall and Winter Soups and Stews

Cooler and colder weather will soon be upon us all in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to think about homemade Soups, Stews and Sauces.

Onion, leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic is the flavor base for a wide variety of Western dishes: stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
Most often leeks(white and tender green tops) are used to replace onions when making your flavor base mix. If you use both onion and leeks use 1 part onion and 1 part leek and leek green tops. Note: select only very tender leek greens to use in you flavor base mix.

A good starting mix of Onion/leek, celery, carrots, bell pepper(any color) and 1 to 6 garlic cloves. My recommended ratio is 2:1:1:1.
2:1:1:1 = 2 parts onion or leeks, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots, 1 part bell pepper and garlic to taste. Garlic cloves become milder in flavor when heated(cooked) in this starter flavor base mix.

Medium dice (1/4 to 3/8 inch size) vegetables (do not dice garlic cloves). Salt and white pepper to taste.

In a fry pan cook, diced vegetables and whole garlic, with butter, olive oil, or other fat, for a long time on a very low heat without browning your flavor base vegetables. Flavor base is not sautéed or otherwise hard cooked, the intention is to sweeten the vegetables rather than caramelize them.
Garlic clove(s) can be removed at this point if your not a big fan of sweet tasty garlic paste.

Use this flavor base mix and your favorite soup, stew or pasta sauce recipe for a meal your family is sure to enjoy.

If this flavor base mix is to be served with a pasta dish, add 2 tables tomato paste, 1 table spoon dry basil stir until well mixed continue cooking flavor base mix. Once flavor base vegetables become soft and tender add tomato sauce continue to cook flavor base pasta sauce until it is thick remove from heat add pasta and mix well. Taste, adjust salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a grated cheese that you like and serve while pasta and flavor base mix are still warm.