Monday, September 29, 2014

Lemongrass propagation

I bought a small pot of lemongrass this past spring from a local nursery. It didn't look very healthy so I never dreamed it would grow so fast and be so beautiful. I has put all of my perennial grasses to shame. 



Lemongrass grows in dense clumps in tropical or subtropical climates. Therefore if I leave this out in the garden, the freezing Idaho winter will kill it for sure. It is not a perennial in zone 6. 



I’ve decided to propagate this wonderful grass by dividing the root clump. This turned into quite the a chore last Saturday. I was hoping to be able to cut out a section of the plant to put in a pot. 



I had to dig up the whole plant in order to separate it, but I was able to divide it into five pots. I plan to put these in the greenhouse once the weather changes. I was able to save a number of stalks with roots to start new plants. I certainly have more than I need and will share with friends and family. 



The fresh stalks and leaves have a clean lemon-like odor because they contain an essential oil, which is also present in lemon peel. If you have never used or smelled lemongrass, find a recipe and pick some up from your local Asian market. 

Lemongrass has long been used as a flavoring in Asian style cooking and also has many health benefits. When added to recipes, the citrus-like flavor of the lemongrass herb powder or dried leaf adds a unique element to the meal. Though lemongrass is more widely known for its use as tea, it may be added to curries, beef, fish, poultry, seafood and soups.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why we grow peppers...

and celery, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries. 



I mentioned in a recent post that celery is one of the dirty dozen foods that when conventionally grown, contains high levels of pesticide residue. Well, peppers are also listed as one of the twelve. If you have ever purchased an organic red pepper in the grocery store, you know it cost about 4.99 per pound. Because I love peppers and think they are beautiful, I grow my own. This year we’ve had a particularly good crop of all kinds of peppers. In addition to yellow and red bell peppers we have sweet banana, sweet cherry red, Poblano and serrano peppers. Plus a few I cannot recall the names of. I’ve become particularly fond of one called a Lipstick pepper this year. The plant produces a lot of fruit and is sweeter than the red bell. I plan to grow these from seed next year and I may plant a whole row. 

~red bell peppers~

~yellow bell peppers~

~sweet cherry red peppers~

~Lipstick peppers~

We’ve been canning sweet pickled peppers. With this recipe we can use every variety along with fresh garden shallots. They are beautiful and will be a real treat in the middle of winter on sandwiches or on an antipasta platter. 




For the past few days, I can hardly keep up with the harvest. I’ve been cutting up the red and yellow bell peppers and dehydrating them for soups and stews this winter. I’m about out of freezer space so this makes the most sense and they are beautiful in the jars. A large pepper shrinks down to about a quarter cup of dehydrated peppers, which you simply toss into soups, stews and sauces. 




If you are interested in the other dirty dozen and the clean fifteen foods, check out the link at ewg.org. You might be surprised. 



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Everbearing Strawberries - Living up to their name

Everbearing strawberries, also known as day-neutral strawberries, produce sweet red berries from early summer to autumn. We picked our first berries on June 4th, which you can see on the ‘Bees, birds and berries’ blog. We have had an incredible harvest throughout the summer and although production has slowed down a bit, we are still picking sweet berries every day.


We expect to pick berries until we get a hard frost since strawberries are fairly cold hardy. They seem to be loving these cooler September nights and sunny days. 



Although the plants are starting to show signs of Fall, we are still seeing new blossoms and new green berries. We will start thinning the plants in the next few weeks and giving starts to anyone who wishes to start a patch of their own. 



To still be picking fresh ripe strawberries on September 11th is beyond our expectations. We are grateful for this bounty.