Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Herb Harvesting In The Dark Or How I Finally Made Simple Syrups

Last night on Facebook I saw that my daughter had made basil simple syrup. It reminded me that I've been planning to make some simple syrups myself before the herbs were done for the year. The more I thought about it the more motivated I got so before I thought too much about it I grabbed a flashlight and went out to get some basil and lemon grass. I decided to make a batch with the licorice basil that I have not cooked with much as well as the Genovese. I haven't liked the texture of the licorice basil, especially raw in things like caprese. In no time at all I had cleaned about a cup each of the basils and the lemon grass. After cleaning the lemon grass I crushed the stems a bit to allow the flavor to permeate the syrup more easily. Each went into a separate pot and into each pot I added one cup of sugar and a half cup of water. I brought them to a boil and simmered them for a few minutes. I took them off the heat, let them sit for about 15 minutes and then strained them through a fine mesh tea strainer into half pint canning jars. This was a super simple (no pun intended) endeavor and the syrups smell fantastic! I think I'll try some with lemon verbena tonight.
I meant to do a better taste test to compare the basil syrups but decided one Lemon Basiltini on a work night was sufficient.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Post Storm: Project Number Two

From this angle it is obvious...but I walked past this tree twice on the way to the compost pile without noticing that a good part of my ornamental plum, Prunus c. Purple Pony, was now in the neighbor's yard.
The storm had softened the soil and the winds finished the poor thing off.
I decided it needed to come down before it took the poor old fence it was hung up on down with it.

It was actually easier than I thought it would be. Trying to recover from the flu that knocked me back for the better part of a week I took it slow and cut a few branches two days in a row. Then Saturday I cut the trunk down to a two foot stump. The stump is still there...it's not going to cause any further damage. I'll have to get it out in the next week or two. The question is...what am I going to do with that space now? I do know Cecil Brunner won't complain about more sun. And that privet is on short time anyway. Possibilities abound! RIP Purple Pony.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

GBBD October 2009

Abutilon Pink Parasol is slowly filling in and blooms Tuesday in the back border.
However, she is going to need a bit of help if I think I want her to make it through the winter. Miss PP, stake and all, was horizontal after the storm that blew through here yesterday. OK...I admit I meant to get a decent stake and was making do with a lightweight one...but it's only October! Oh. Guess I said that yesterday.

I am amazed at the fact that most of the photos I took Tuesday are still valid today...this little hollyhock blooms so close to the ground that the wind didn't faze it.

Abutilon Souvenir de Bonn has bloomed a bit all summer. I know, I know, I don't like orange flowers. But these are so not gaudy and look at that foliage! And when she came home with me that tag said 'used almost entirely for its foliage' so I sort of figured the blooms would be nondescript. While I'm not going to be buying any orange cannas anytime soon this little sweetheart is staying. But in a bigger pot before it really gets cold.

Devil wing begonia is lovely on Tuesday in this photo. Not so much today darn it.

Rosa Berries and Cream is putting out a few blooms still although slowing way down. This was Tuesday but the petals hung on yesterday...they're just not quite so perky today.

Pelargoniums bloom around the yard and really didn't mind the wind.Solanum rantonnetti got whipped around but stood up to the wind like a trooper. And I love the blooms. But I am going to have to find a less enthusiastic replacement for this spot on the edge of the patio. And when I do I will repeat 'right plant in the right place' over and over.

These purple basil blooms have been left because the leaves are too pungent for me (the basil lover!). But who doesn't love those blooms?

One more round of blooms from Alstroemeria Regina. Reliable, long lasting and easy. What more could I ask?

Other bloomers include allysum, erodium, plumbago, wax begonias, pink pandorea, lavenders, garlic chives, various salvias, bat faced cuphea, anisodonteas and possibly pansies ~guess I should check tomorrow morning and see if they got washed away.

Check out other bloom lists by visiting our esteemed leader Carol, at May Dreams Gardens. See what's blooming today around the world!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Post Storm: Project Number One

One of my favorite little vignettes in the back garden was this small table where various succulents have decided to hang together and be happy. They really needed to have been put away for winter but fall has just arrived and I was so happy with the way they look that I was trying to squeeze a few more weeks of enjoyment from them. I mean...it's only October! Once they are relegated to the patio shelves out of harm's way for the winter they will be pretty much out of sight.

Here are those same plants this morning after an unusually early winter storm barreled through knocking out power to many homes (including mine), toppling trees, snapping branches, spreading leaves and, sadly, knocking over tables of unprepared succulent growers. Amazingly, only one pot broke and I think all the plants are there and not shoved up against the fence somewhere.