Sunday, September 19, 2010

Herb harvesting

It's getting to the end of the season, and time to harvest herbs. 

My vast crop of basil will be processed into pesto (with grated Romano cheese and toasted walnuts and olive oil; I typically don't include garlic), chilled, then scooped up and frozen in 2-oz balls for use through the basil-drought of winter.

It was a great season for basil -- very hot and sunny through much of the summer.  I kept the basil quite wet with a soaker hose that I used a couple times a week.  Basil always thrives best on heat, sun, and lots of water.  It does not like to be dry.  

Sage will be hung up in the basement and dried, and when fully desiccated, rubbed and stored in a jar.  My sage didn't so well this year -- perhaps it needs to be treated differently than basil.  I typically ignored it, and it would grow and grow, producing more sage than one could use in a lifetime.  It never bloomed this spring, and that surprised me.  The harsh winter, maybe?  It has a very pretty purple flower that the bees love.  The leaves themselves tended towards the wan and yellow this year, too.  I'm wondering if the mint next to it is starting to strangle the 15-year old sage plant's roots. 

The sage plant, in better days.

The overgrown mint patch has already started to die back.  As robust an herb that mint is, it seems to begin to shrink back on the first hints of cool air, which we've already had.  It will be largely gone by Halloween, though the roots will continue to spread vigorously until the spring.  Mint will be hung up and dried, too, and will make an excellent cup of mint tea on a cold winter day.

 
 That's about half the crop.  Plenty more still unharvested.
You can see the soaker hose snaking along the dirt.

 
A sinkful of basil.  I always manage to catch 
a spider or two on the basil. 


 
 Basil to the left.  Mint on the upper right.  Sage in the lower right.
All washed and ready.  




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