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Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Time to Dry Thyme

‘I need a ground cover for between the pebble stepping stones’ I thought yesterday, while revamping a garden bed in my front yard. The first plant to come to mind from the existing plants I have, was thyme. Thyme is a Mediterranean climate herb. Not really a ground cover of course, but low growing and useful enough to grow in this bed between stepping stones (that would only be used by me) and in a garden which features a rosemary hedge. ‘If I needed a quick bouquet garni, I could collect it on the way through, from the car’, I thought.

I do like a nice bit of efficient ingredient collection, when it comes to meal preparation. But what’s a bouquet garni? It is the French name used for a collection of fresh herbs (garni) tied together (bouquet) used in soups, stews, stock – in this case, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. These herbs were described in an old English folk song ‘Scarborough Fair,’  popularised by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1960s. It’s a love song rather than one about culinary herbs, but the bouquet garni ingredients are described in the herbs and flowers ‘she’s’ instructed to collect in her basket. I break into this song whenever I think of bouquet garni, or thyme. The song takes me back to an age I never knew, but feel I do.

I digress. So out into the back garden I went in search of my thyme treasure. I found four plants I’d made from cuttings some months before, all in need of a very harsh haircut. As usual when one job is begun, ten more emerge. I snipped off the tops of the plants, threw them into my harvest basket and planted the thyme plants into the front garden bed.

With the garden bed complete, I’m having a more restful day today. So dealing with the thyme-drying is an ideal Sunday job. Thyme is one of those herbs which I believe offers its best flavour to food, when dried. Except when used fresh in a bouquet garni of course. Thyme suits egg and vegetable dishes but is used with poultry, game, fish, beans, pizza, sauces, and is always an ingredient in stuffings like that found inside a BBQ chicken.

If you’re not familiar with the taste, I always describe it as the ‘woodsmoked end of mint’.  To me it’s the ‘meaty’ version of herbs–and that’s what I thought even before I was a vegetarian. It gives ‘meaty savouriness’ to any vegetable dish.

I recommend a light touch if you haven’t used it before–it is strong and will overpower a recipe if you’re heavy-handed with it.

To Prepare Dried Thyme

  1. Cut fresh thyme sprigs from your thyme plant
  2. Rinse then dry thyme on a tea towel
  3. Dry the thyme stems in your dehydrator 100 °F (38 °C) for 1 to 2 hours (I did mine for 1.5 hours) Alternatively you can air dry it in a dust free covered area for 5 or so days depending on the temperature and air humidity
  4. Remove leaves from stems by ‘scrunching’ into a bowl
  5. Store dried thyme in an air-tight container (preferably glass)

I don’t use any preservatives when drying my herbs, so the 1 to 3 years pantry storage time recommended for thyme, will vary depending on the conditions it’s kept in. As is my usual advice, do your own research, be aware of your own storage conditions and never consume mouldy or otherwise perished herbs.

The other way I like to enjoy the smell of thyme is simply fresh leaves in a bowl of hot water. The scent is beautiful and will waft around your home as a natural air freshener. I use this idea in winter, as thyme is said to be antibacterial, antiviral and insecticidal. Thyme was used in the embalming process during The Black Death in Europe, which is perhaps where these properties were most appreciated. Before using it for any medicinal purpose though, research for your own situation and needs. This is one of the good references to read, here

As a final note, it’s great to have chemical-free dried herbs on hand for cooking. Herbs are so easily grown in small spaces, so don’t feel you need a garden bed. A container with drainage holes will do! Thyme requires very little in the way of attention, it’s resilient and used to a hot Mediterranean climate. Just be sure the soil you plant it in has a pH of between 6 and 8, and drains well. Keep it watered in a sunny spot. A simple delight!

Happy gardening 🌸

 

 

Garden Thoughts, Nature, Life and my Garden, Mindful Nature

De-Fused by a Tomato

I really needed to see the ‘heart’ in this black russian tomato this morning.

Ironic, black russians and I haven’t seen ‘eye-to-eye’ this season.

Gardeners, I hear ya’ the world over, Nature is a tough mistress this time of year, it’s a mood-changer!

In the northern hemisphere gardeners are itching to get gardens started while late season blizzards swirl.

Here in the southern hemisphere, many of us are trying to protect crops from pest & disease pressure naturally & organically, minimise heat damage, dodge hail storms and unfriendly insects, birds and maybe snakes (so far, no snakes).

This morning I’ve taken action on a slime mold that appeared overnight. They’re ok in a garden and sign that microbial life is good – but can turn parasitic on plants in summer when food is running low. I’ve ‘had words’ with an intimidating hornet, bagged remaining pomegranates, tomatoes, strawberries, that annoyingly, certain birds prefer over their native food, which is abundantly here for them in this garden!

And that was all before breakfast.

The thought of yet another heatwave week of late thirties celsius, until Sunday 😳 The peach tree that hasn’t fruited healthily in years, despite gorgeous blossoms and needs to be let go THIS year (Nooooo!).

Every creature is hungry, hot, dehydrated and tired because they’re oxygen deprived in the soupy, ozone saturated, humid air. Sound familiar?

But then, the tomato ‘heart message’ …Stop, breathe, rest, be thankful, take in the beauty, peace-smile. It is just a changed thought away. It’s really and truly, all OK….De-fused by a tomato 🌸💕

#mygarden #tomato #heatwave #summer#australiansummer #gratitude #itsok#growyourownfood #gardenproblems#mindfulness #mindful #heart #fresh#organicgardener #smile#urbanpermaculture #vintagetrish#vintagetrishgarden

Events, Garden Update, Life and my Garden, Mindful Nature

Happy Nature Filled New Year 2019!

A flower blessing to YOU from my garden and I for a beautiful, healthy and happy New Year!

In this photo I used mini dianthus, zinnias, dahlias, nasturtium and roses I picked from my garden on New Years Day, with a purpose that didn’t involve a vase.

I felt these beauties should have multiple uses, in true permaculture style. So when I was picking flowers for my usual flower blessing bowl – a beautiful energetic practice I like to do for setting the home’s energy on New Years Day (see below) – I thought I’d do a year theme inspired photo for Instagram too.

If you’re not following me on Instagram I confess that’s really where the daily posts and action is. So please press this Instagram link and follow me there too–I’d enjoy getting to know you!

I’m more of a ‘just do-er’ than a resolution maker. But I will be better at posting here in 2019 and that’s really what I work with– a loose plan with flexibility that involves taking opportunities that pop up along the way!

On the ‘harvest opportunity front’, my edible garden is producing amazing things right now in the peak of our Australian Summer. I posted a photo of tomatoes on my windowsill today on Instagram. There are really so many ripening on the windowsill it’s making the window difficult to open. I need a new and simple system, ha ha–don’t we all for everything! It’s a great problem to have! But I wouldn’t want the window open today anyway. It’s 38 degrees C outside! So I’ve bought myself some time with the weather’s help.

I’m doing a daily pick/harvest photo, and sometimes a focus photo, on one particular type of vegetable or fruit if I think it would be interesting. Here are some examples of this colourful and productive time of year in my garden.

One of the aspects of having a garden I really enjoy is the ability to be resourceful with the produce that comes in the harvest basket from my morning garden stroll. That harvest is often determined by the weather right now (saving things from heat) or determined by what I need for a particular meal.

The cheese-ball you see above is an example of a theme based snack. I made it for New Year’s Eve (out of near-to-date milk which otherwise may have gone to waste) by making my own cream cheese and then, using it in the cheeseball. It wouldn’t be coated in chives unless I’d had an abundance to pick from in the garden. It wouldn’t exist at all if I didn’t have an aversion to wasted milk.

So the intention behind the types of home cuisine I make can be steered by the garden itself and ‘ingredient opportunities’ that present themselves. Becoming aware of your choices is what this is about, which is ironically linked to New Years Resolutions.

Mindfulness in the garden, offers a beautiful rhythm of flowing with the seasons, with life in general, if you let it work on you.

I hope you experience great ‘flow’ in 2019–at work, at home, at play, in communication with others and in your special relationships.

May 2019 be your best friend!

 

 

Life and my Garden, Plant Stories

The Time to plant Fruit Trees is Yesterday!

When people ask me when they should plant fruit trees…I say…’yesterday!’

I say this because fruit trees can take years to prosper – for you to get ‘food results’.

For example I haven’t seen an avocado from my over 12 year old avocado tree.

But let me tell you a story, because that’s not always the case…

My Spring Satin dwarf plumcot tree was bought for $16 AUD in November 2015, marked down from $45.

The tree had obviously experienced dehydration at the ‘big shed’ it came from, and looked quite sorry for itself on that overpopulated markdown shelf. It was the only plumcot there.

I knew this tree had potential with my help, because it’s genetics and nursery supplier were reputable. I had also heard only great things about this variety, to that point.

It is now 3.5 foot high and in remarkable health. It’s small stature is definitely not an indicator of fruiting ability in my experience.

The tree is planted within stone’s throw from a satsuma plum, and a nashi pear that blossom at the same time. It’s possible these are acting as pollinators or at least encouraging pollinators for this partially self-fertile fruit tree.

So far this year it has produced 850g of fruit, with average fruit mass of 18.8g.

No fruit fly, minimal water, drought tolerant, delicious tasting fruit!

While I still advise getting all your fruit trees in early  I want to show you that some are surprisingly quick to fruit!

These are the type of images I was dreaming of when I started my garden 26 years ago.

This fruit took only 3 years!

Get planting! 🌸

PS Would you like to see daily updates from my garden? See VintageTrish Instagram

#fruittrees#stonefruit #plumcot #getplanting #organic#springsatinplumcot #growyourown#growyourownfruit #nochemicals#permaculture #organicgardener#vintagetrish #garden #ediblegarden#vintagetrishgarden

Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Bay Leaf Drying Time

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I noticed masses of new season growth on my mature, very attractive and fragrant bay tree this afternoon.

I’m so glad I planted this tree ‘all those years ago’.

I’ve trained the tree into a standardised form in the middle of one of my annual garden beds.

The tree is an evergreen constant in this bed, along with the rosemary bush.

It gives structure and purpose while the rest of the bed morphs annually around it.

When the bay tree starts to look like a shaggy pom pom on a stick, I know it’s bay leaf drying time!

The strong dry winds today make perfect conditions for this.

The wind is drying off the humidity in the air, and this starts to desiccate the leaves once removed from the tree.

Thankfully the dust (from the dust storm these winds are part of) was not that bad where I live, today.

I’ll dry my bay leaves indoors naturally over a few weeks.

Since my drying equipment is taken up with so many other tasks such as flower and lavender drying, at present, I will be drying the bay leaves very simply-in paper bags.

I’ve decided bay leaves and bay leaf powder will be my mission this season.

I’m imagining the many uses and projects these leaves will have–culinary powders/leaves, immune-boosting teas, fragrant sprays, bug repellant sachets…the list goes on.

After all these years I still get a thrill from this side of gardening.

When you actually use what you grow,  it multiplies the already exponential benefits of gardening.💕🌸

P.S If you’d like to see my daily garden updates visit and follow me on VintageTrish  Instagram

 

#baylaurel #bayleaves#fresh #dryingprocess #strongwind#garden #gardeninginaustralia #ingredients#bayleaftree #nochemicals #organic#wintercooking #wintercookingingredients#urbanpermaculture #vintagetrish#immunityboost #naturalmothrepellent#vintagetrishgarden