One herb that I have been growing without thinking much about it is garlic. I planted it, here in zone 5, last November and since it’s something that over winters and starts growing again once spring awakens it, the green tops were there to greet me once the snow melted. Usually my chives are the first thing to sprout and indicate spring has arrived, but this year the garlic was the first.
After months of having it grow and probably deter underground pests, I have now harvested my first crop, and it turned out pretty nice. Next year I will remove the scapes mid-June, knowing now that this is recommended for producing bigger bulbs (after trying to find out about ways to use them in cooking yesterday). Since I felt they should be removed anyway so as not to waste another edible part of the plant, I decided to snap them off, clean, dry, chop, and saute them with asparagus last night to put in a quiche. I couldn’t find out if this is okay to do after they are harvested, but I took a chance after contemplating that I think the snapped off part will just dry out and because the scapes would eventually just get removed once my garlic is ready to store, anyway. I made some fresh salsa with one of the smaller bulbs, and it was so delicious that it only lasted about a half hour until we all ate it. Fresh garlic really has such a wonderful flavor and was so delectable!
Now I am curing my garlic by hanging it in the basement. I just hope the conditions are ideal. From what I have researched the garlic should hang by its leaves in a dry area that does not get very much light and has good air circulation. Unfortunately, this is tricky in our house. I could have hung it in the middle of the house where I dry many of the other herbs, but the odor concerns me. I do love the smell of garlic, but I assume not everyone does and don’t want to risk our clothes or other herbs smelling like garlic if hung nearby. The basement seemed like the only option that fit the requirements well enough to try. I hope it works!
My herb garden is growing so wonderfully and is such a glorious sight to see every morning when I look out my kitchen window. Mid-day at 1:00 p.m. there are always several dragonflies enjoying lunch outside between my gardens, and it never gets old to watch.
One day I dream of a garden that I won’t have to fence in, but my little terrier requires I do this so he doesn’t use it as a bathroom. We have a Norfolk terrier mix. Since he’s a rescue dog there is no way to be certain and it seems he, along with his Airedale friend, of my mother-in-law’s next door, will dig, trample, and poop in the exact spots I don’t want them to. This requires fencing around all ground level plants in the backyard.
I have been harvesting, washing, drying, collecting, laying, hanging, drying and storing herbs daily. My towels are now changing colors from the Calendula flowers, and I have began a Mullein oil and Calendula oil infusion. These infusions sit in a window right in the dining room which allows for plenty of heat and sun!
There is nothing quite like having a variety of herbs and flowers laying on towels every day in the kitchen. It is time consuming and can be tedious at times, but I do love the satisfaction of connecting with my plants and utilizing their many health benefits. Mullein oil is known for helping with ear aches/inflammation of the inner ear. Calendula oil is used in many topical lotions to help with skin inflammations and is great for sensitive skin. It can be applied to wounds, bites, or any other irritated skin for its soothing and healing properties. I have infused both of these herbs in organic olive oil.
The last herb I will touch on today is Blue Monday Sage. This is an herb that I purchased seeds for last year and grew in hopes that it would return this year. I even did a monograph for it while doing my online Materia Medica course with the Herbal Academy. As my research began it was apparent that this herb is not well known and little information has been written about it. Now discovering that it has returned to my garden on its own, even in spots I did not plant it last year, I am starting to gather my own personal knowledge about it. This excites me because it feels a little more like I am an early herbalist who is observing a plant and getting to make discoveries of my own! One more bit of data is that it either self seeded or grew back from the roots from being left in the ground, and even with the cold winter (being in USDA hardiness zone 5) it returned this year, and I am so grateful. I love how the upper leaves look like someone painted them ever so delicately with a beautiful lavender paint!
Have a beautiful day!