Dustin (my fi) and I planted an awesome garden this summer. We started small with some hot banana pepper plants and some herbs I'd grown from seed in the house: parsley, dill, basil. Then we got a little more ambitious and put in a tomato plant, some mums to keep the bugs away, sage, tarragon, oregano, mint, lemon balm, thyme and rosemary. Tasty! We thought that this would cover my cooking needs (since I love nothing more than fresh herbs for cooking) and test our ability to nurture something. What started off as a tiny garden turned into an amazon! Whenever someone came to visit, we proudly displayed our ridiculously vibrant, fragrant and enormous garden. Everyone was impressed and we were thrilled we were able to maintain and care for our garden as well as we did.
(Jack smelling the herbs)
Two of our experiments grew nearly out of control! Our tomato plant turned into a tree, practically, and flailed its limbs all over the little garden. No space was safe or sacred from it's outstretched arms or plump green bulbs. Even though we staked it, it managed to find ways to overreach its bounds. Our basil was the other attention whore in the group. What started off as two small indoor basil plants turned into huge tufts of basil that reached as tall as my chest and grew a bark-like texture over its stems. Dustin claims this means the basil likes it's spot and wanted to set itself there firmly. Someone must've forgotten to tell the basil that it's a annual and won't be returning there next year.
(Garden at the beginning of the summer before the basil-on the left, and the tomatoes-on the right grew into Little Shop of Horrors)
The other day, we went out and picked a bunch of the basil and all the tomatoes since they're predicting a frost in our near future. We had so much basil we filled up three or four vases where we hope they will dry up so we can store them through the winter or give some away! (I read somewhere that leaving basil to air dry is best so it maintains its oils. If it's dried any other way, it loses a lot of its natural flavor.) Right now, we have vases of basil all over the house which we're enjoying the scent of since it's such a spicy aroma. And we're not even done harvesting it all! We just got cold and had to come back inside.
(One of the many containers we filled with basil and our two new indoor basil plants!)
To be sure we don't run out of basil and can have some fresh basil if we so choose (I prefer fresh basil for pasta sauces and caprese salad), I harvested the seeds, too, and planted them in two indoor pots for the winter. Harvesting the seeds is way easier than I thought it'd be...and if there's anyone who'd like some tried and true basil/basil seeds...let me know and I'll be happy to go out and pick off the dried bits and harvest the seeds from them.
(Harvesting the basil seeds: squish out the dried bits and separate the tiny black seeds out for planting!)
I should mention that I'm desperate for more basil-laden recipes and would LOVE for anyone who knows any to send them my way. My friend Stephanie suggested we make frozen pesto cubes. This was ingenious! She said to make a batch of pesto then fill up the cubes of an ice tray and freeze them. As we need them, we simply bust one of those cubes out, stick it in a pot with some oil and VOILA! Pasta with pesto sauce. Brilliant!
When I lamented over my green tomatoes, a friend of Lance and Emily's told me I should put them green 'maters in tin foil and leave them in the sunlight. Also brilliant! The foil will conduct the heat and ripen the maters! I was thrilled with these ideas and am in the process of testing them out. I'll let you know how it goes!
(Maters in the foil!)
Hopefully it works and hopefully our new basil plants grow! Right now, we are off to harvest more basil and save anything else we'd like before tomorrow's frost! More to come!