Thursday, October 09, 2008

closing down the gardens

Today I planted the last bag of tulips along the front walkway.
Then I pulled up all the tomato cages and gathered all of the larger, still green tomatoes. I found an old cardboard file box in the garage and used the following instructions to (hopefully) help them finish ripening.

Cardboard box method - For many tomatoes from

Prepare a cardboard box. If possible, add some foam or fruit cardboard in the base; or simply line with newspaper.
Place a layer of tomatoes in the box, each one next to the other. If you have a lot of tomatoes, a second layer on top is okay but be gentle. Do not make any more than two layers in case you bruise the fruit at the base.
Add some ripening bananas if you'd like. The tomatoes are likely to ripen anyway, as they release their own ethylene and influence each other. However, using bananas will help to speed up the process.
Place in a cool, slightly humid room away from light. A pantry shelf is ideal if you have one.

Next I turned to the herbs in the front garden. I cut many of them for drying. The sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary and lavender will be seasoning our food for months to come.

How To Dry Herbs from

Cut healthy branches from your herb plants.
Remove any dry or diseased leaves
Shake gently to remove any insects.
If necessary, rinse with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Wet herbs will mold and rot.
Remove the lower leaves along the bottom inch or so of the branch.
Bundle 4 - 6 branches together and tie as a bunch. You can use string or a rubber band. The bundles will shrink as they dry and the rubber band will loosen, so check periodically that the bundle is not slipping. Make small bundles if you are trying to dry herbs with high water content.
Punch or cut several holes in a paper bag. Label the bag with the name of the herb you are drying.
Place the herb bundle upside down into the bag.
Gather the ends of the bag around the bundle and tie closed. Make sure the herbs are not crowded inside the bag.
Hang the bag upside down in a warm, airy room.
Check in about two weeks to see how things are progressing. Keep checking weekly until your herbs are dry and ready to store.

The basil I treat a little differently. I chop it very fine and place it in ice cube trays. Then I fill the trays with chicken broth and freeze. When solid, I pop out the cubes an place in freezer bags. Then they are ready to pop into soups and sauces all winter long.

I still have some cleaning to do. I should get my little mantis tiller and go to work before the ground freezes, but I am essentially done for the year.( All that's left is to start planning a bigger and better garden for next year!

1 comment:

Mrs. Staggs said...

Whew! I bet planting all those bulbs was a lot of work! I've always thought that was a tedious job, but it's certainly worth it when springtime rolls around each year.

I've ripened tomatoes like that at times. It works very well. Thanks for the tips on the herbs!