The way to ensure that you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the winter months is by spending a bit of time creating dried herbs for your cooking pleasure, that way could also save your money as well 🙂
If you have spent your spring and summer planting and cultivating your herb garden, you are not going to want to see all of your hard work go to waste once the snow begins to fly. The way to ensure that you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the winter months is by spending a bit of time creating dried herbs for your cooking pleasure. With a little bit of time and work, you can preserve your herbs to use whenever you like, no matter what the season.
There are many methods to achieving dried herbs, but the best is probably the air-dry method. Drying herbs this way is usually most effective with those herbs that have lower moisture content. Oregano, rosemary, marjoram, dill and summer savoury all fall into this category. Those with higher moisture content, like tarragon or basil will usually dry better in the freezer or dehydrator. However, if you keep the bunches of branches on the small side, you can air dry these herbs as well.
To successfully dry herbs, it is best to harvest your plants before they begin to flower. You should cut your branches after the morning dew has burned off in the sunlight, but before the hotter afternoon sun begins to make your plants wither. Select from your healthiest branches, and make sure that you trim off all diseased or dried leaves. It is also a good idea to pull all of the leaves off of the bottom inch of your branch before drying herbs.
Put your branches together in bundles of six or seven, and tie the end with a piece of string or a rubber band. Keep in mind that dried herbs have a tendency to shrink, so you will need to keep an eye on your band to ensure that your branches do not begin to slip out. Once you have your bundles of dried herbs ready to go, you can place them in a brown paper bag that has a number of holes punched into it. Hang these bags in a cool, dark place and give them about two weeks before checking on your dried herbs.
Once your herbs are completely dry, you can store them in airtight containers for use during the rest of the season. These containers can be as simple as zip-lock bags with labels on the front, or you can use small canning jars with labels attached to the side. Make sure that you do label all of your containers, since it can be hard to tell the difference between your marjoram and summer savoury.
Dried herbs can be a wonderful addition throughout the winter months until you can get back out to your garden to begin growing fresh herbs once again. With a little bit of time and effort, you can enjoy the fruits of your garden labor all year long.
In this article, we list 5 things that will enable you to produce quality compost in the shortest amount of time …
A compost bin plan has to do with so much more than piling on plant waste and kitchen scraps and mixing them together. You also have to keep track of several things that will enable you to produce quality compost in the shortest amount of time. A good compost bin plan will also help you minimise problems, such as the smell that emanates from (and the pests that gather around) a wrongly composted pile.
The minute there is a hint of a smell it can mean either insufficient turning or an imbalance in your compost ingredients. Make sure that you have at least 75% of brown material to balance of your compost heap. If you turn your pile a couple of times a week, you may have to turn it more often, especially in hot or humid weather. You can also minimise odor by covering your pile with straw or dry leaves and by making sure any new vegetable or fruit scraps are well mixed in.
A compost thermometer is a good investment. Regulating the temperature of your pile will not only minimise odor, it will also help you achieve decomposition faster. Compost microorganisms that assist decomposition will die if temperatures reach above 150 F. On the other hand, they may also disappear if temperatures fall below 100 F. If temperatures are too high or too low, turning will usually remedy the problem. During winter, adding manure will help achieve optimum temperatures for your compost bin plan.
A correctly balanced pile will not only control odors it can also help speed up decomposition. Use 75% of material such as sawdust, woodchips, and straw and only 25% of kitchen scraps and fresh grass or plant waste. Research on the nitrogen and carbon content of the ingredients you normally add to your pile so that you can provide a healthy balance.
It may take too long to break down a dry pile so frequent watering would be needed during hot summers. During months of frequent rain, on the other hand, you have to put enough dry leaves, straw, woodchips, and similar material so that your pile does not grow waterlogged.
If your bin is fixed into the ground, you will have to manually mix the pile so that no huge clumps of compost are left too long in the bottom. When mixed with the rest of the pile, these huge clumps can speed up the average decomposition of your compost bin plan.
There are some people who will decide what social class a person falls into on the basis of whether or not they have a garden. It may be a flippant way of deciding such a thing, but for many people it seems to hold true. Huge, blooming gardens are undoubtedly the domain of those with a bit of cash to spare, while people with less money to throw around will have to settle for less. But there is no reason why, if you have the inclination, you cannot grow something pretty, useful or even lucrative even on a tighter budget than the guys and gals with the bigger gardens.
You don’t need to have a big garden to grow things that will benefit you for a long time to come. You don’t even need to have a garden at all if you go about things in the correct manner. What you will need is a little bit of spare time, the patience to wait things out and not get flustered when things don’t bloom as you had planned straight away, and the knowledge that it really is worthwhile. Without a doubt, you will benefit from sticking to these, and you could even find yourself a lucrative little sideline if you are clever about it. People will pay for fresh fruit and veg. They will also pay for flowering blooms, so if you go about things in the right way you will find that your work can actually make you money.
Of course, the lack of money means some scaling down in terms of ambition. But this does not need to be permanent or even long term. Starting small does not mean you have to keep thinking small. Once you start gardening you will get ideas for other things you can do, ways that you can make your plans come to life. And the best thing of all is that you can grow things which you will end up actually using – a casserole always tastes better when you have grown the veg yourself and you know there is more growing outside.
Using recycled materials to create a compost heap seems only natural as what I intend to do in essence is recycle garden waste in order to create fantastic compost, which in turn will be given back to my plants!
Of course none of this would be possible without the help of a friend, and a big muscly one at that (only joking!)! Introducing the muscle!
This is my friend and recycling guru, Pan. This wonderful lady supplied the pallets, the string (collected from a nearby beach), the tools and most importantly the well rotted chicken manure and bedding. The rocket fuel for the project! I call her the muscle as she pretty much did the hard work as I still recover, not bad eh?!
As I only have a small garden we chose to create two small bins, sufficient for the task at hand. I’m quite lucky to have space behind the garden in which to do this and this will keep the bins nicely protected and out of sight.
The construction was fairly simple. We used chicken wire (reclaimed from a previous use) between the gaps in the pallets and then joined each pallet with the polypropylene string collected from the beach. I wanted the bins to be fairly mobile and by using this construction they can be dismantled and moved without any hassle at all.
Within the space of a couple of hours and a couple of cups of tea, the bins were complete and we were looking pretty proud of ourselves.
All that was left to do was to start the process. Here I am with Pan’s well rotted bag of chicken manure ready to kick start my long awaited compost bins.
The compost will be covered over with carpet off cuts and I look forward to see what results I will get!