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Category Archives: Garden

Ramble: Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!
It is autumn and we celebrate our time of Harvest blending old world pagan rites, middle-eastern abrahamic beliefs, with new world indigenous traditions. Creating something new, and still some how it is something so old that it has bonded with our global melded human DNA.

Here in what we call the Northern Hemisphere, winter is ahead, and we are thankful for the bounty of these lands, and celebrate the kindness of our neighbours. We will weather the storms that are ahead, finding time to play in the cold and the snow, finding time to sing and frolic in the darkening days ahead – until we see again the light returning. Feeling the warmth of the sun stirring our desires to plant the seeds we gathered this harvest. And begin again our place in the cycle of living.

We are each alone on this tiny little planet drifting in the cold darkness of infinite space. And we travel so much lighter when we travel together: sharing ourselves, sharing our stories, sharing our songs, and sharing our gratitude for what we have with those that will have us and hold us.

Remember we reap what we have sown, and here is hoping we take and share the best seeds so that together we can plant the best of tomorrows.

Happy Harvest Canada, and Happy Thanks Sharing!
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Garden: Herbs – Chives

Allium schoenoprasum in NH 01.jpg
Allium schoenoprasum in NH 01” by Captain-tucker – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

When to Use:
Chives are best used fresh in recipes. Dried Chives may also be used will have a weaker flavour and less pleasing texture.

Best Compliments: eggs, fish, potatoes, salads, shellfish, sole, soups

Chives are normally snipped and sprinkled on food just before serving for seasoning.

Fresh chives may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week. Chives freeze well, cut chives with scissors rinse in cool water and dry before placing in freezer bags.

Substitutions: 1 teaspoon chopped green onion tops = 1 tablespoon chopped chives

When to Plant
In early spring as soon as ground is workable. Chives are perennials so once planted will normally come back on their own in the spring.

How to Grow
Chives grow best in full sun or semi-shade. A reasonably fertile soil is required. Chives do fairly well indoors in pots or planters in bright windows. Plant seeds 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart and 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep. Thin when seedlings are 3 inches (8 cm) high to be about 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Chives will spread into clumps if allowed to grow over the years. Chives transplant well.

Harvesting
Chives are perennials and can be harvested as soon as stems appear.

Home and Garden Tips
If you allow chives to go to flower (large purple flowers) the plant will seed itself quite happily! To prevent over-spreading pick off the flowers before they go to seed. The flowers can be eaten in same way as the green stems – and have a similar flavour. You can also rinse the chive flowers in a cool water bath (to remove bugs and dirt!) then shake dry and stuff into a jar. Heat white vinegar until bathwater warm (but not hot – we don’t want to scald the flowers) and pour the vinegar over the flowers. Place plastic wrap over the jar mouth before sealing with the lid. Now place the jar in cool dark spot for 2 weeks or so and forget about it! When you remember the jar strain the vinegar into a clean glass jar. The vinegar should have a lovely light chive flavour, and a delicate purplish tinge. Use in place of ordinary vinegar when making salads.

Garden: Herbs – Basil

“Basil-Basilico-Ocimum basilicum-albahaca” by Castielli – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Basil-Basilico-Ocimum_basilicum-albahaca.jpg#/media/File:Basil-Basilico-Ocimum_basilicum-albahaca.jpg

When to Use:
Basil is best used fresh in recipes. Dried Basil may be used but it does have a weaker flavour.

Best Compliments: cheese, chicken, duck, eggplant, eggs, fish, lamb, liver, olive oil, onions, pasta, pesto, pizza, pork, potatoes, rabbit, salads, shellfish, soups, sweet peppers, tomatoes, veal, vegetables, vinegars, zucchini, tomato sauce

In general, it should be added at the last moment, as cooking will destroy the flavour.

The fresh basil can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer. To store in the freezer blanch the herb quickly in boiling water, remove excess water by gently shaking and patting with a clean dish towel.

Substitutions: 1 teaspoon dried basil = 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil = 1 tablespoon chopped fresh summer savory;
1 teaspoon dried basil = replace with 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, oregano, thyme or tarragon (adding more if necessary)

When to Plant
After all danger of frost. Generally mid-May to early June

How to Grow
Basil grows in full sun or semi-shade. A moderately fertile soil is all that is required. Basil does well in pots or planters and so can be started indoors before being moved outside. Plant seeds 1/2 inch (12 mm) apart and 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep. After seedlings emerge and get first leaves, thin to about 6-8 inches apart (15-20 cm).

Harvesting
Basil can be harvested as soon as leaves appear – start with the young plants from thinning, then pinch leaves as required. Basil does well at new growth on plants.

Home and Garden Tips
To dry basil (or other herbs). When blossoms begin to open, take cuttings during the early morning. Rinse leaves under cool water and discard any damaged leaves. Tie the cuttings with string and hang upside down in the kitchen (or another indoor spot) in an area that is cool and dry and out of sunlight. If you have the room you can also create a drying screen and place in a well-ventilated cool, dry and dark area of your home.
Once dry remove the thicker stems and store the leaves in airtight bottles for later use.