How to Dry Fresh Herbs

With the price of everything going up this year, you may want to plan on cutting some costs in the kitchen and dry your fresh herbs from your herb garden. Although it may seem a little early to be discussing this, it is never too early to plan. You may want to increase the size of your herb garden to be sure that you will have enough to use throughout the year, both fresh and dried.

So, how do you dry the herbs you have grown in your herb garden? The good news is that it really isn’t too difficult. Here is a video to help you get the most out of your herb garden this year.

Planning ahead is always essential in gardening. With a solid plan, you will find you will have the greatest results and yields. Though it might seem you are planting an abundance to harvest, if you find you have more than you need for your needs both in fresh and dried, there are still things you can do with the excess.

• You can sell any extra herbs.

• You can share any extra herbs with your neighbors and friends.

• You can always donate any extra herbs to your local food bank or soup kitchen. They will thank you for your thoughtful gift.

Which herbs are you planning on growing this year? Will you use them fresh or dried? Or will you plan for both? Please leave a comment and let me know!

Using Your Garden Herbs

Photo provided by D. McAbee

Photo provided by D. McAbee

If you have planted an herb garden, you know that there is nothing better than cooking with your fresh herbs. But do you know which herbs go with which foods for the best results? Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your herb garden.

Asparagus– lemon balm, oregano, savory, lemon verbena, parsley, tarragon, lovage.

• Beans– basil, marjoram, oregano, savory, spearmint, thyme, bay, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, mint, rosemary, tarragon, lovage.

• Beets– basil, savory, thyme, bay, caraway, dill, sage, tarragon.

• Broccoli– basil, rosemary, lovage.

• Cabbage– marjoram, mint, savory, caraway, dill, fennel, oregano, lovage, borage.

• Carrots– lovage, applemint, basil, marjoram, mint, orangemint, oregano, thyme, tarragon, anise, bay, caraway.

• Cauliflower– marjoram, savory, rosemary, lovage, dill.

• Eggplant– basil, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, thyme, chervil, chives, fennel, garlic.

• Peas– applemint, basil, orangemint, rosemary, sage, savory, spearmint, tarragon, thyme, parsley, lovage, fennel, dill.

• Potatoes– basil, marjoram, mint, rosemary, savory, spearmint, thyme, bay, caraway, fennel, garlic, parsley.

• Spinach– lovage, sorrel, basil, mint, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, sage, marjoram, chervil, borage.

• Tomatoes– basil, marjoram, oregano, sage, thyme, fennel, dill, chervil.

• Beef– basil, lemon thyme, marjoram, mint, rosemary, savory, thyme, anise, borage, dill, fennel, garlic, lovage, parsley, tarragon.

• Chicken– lemon balm, basil, lemon thyme, rosemary, spearmint, thyme, tarragon, savory, sage, oregano, lovage, marjoram, garlic, fennel, coriander, chives, chervil.

• Eggs– lemon balm, basil, marjoram, sage, savory, thyme, tarragon, fennel, dill, bay, parsley, chervil, chives.

• Fish-lemon balm, lemon verbena, basil, clary, hyssop, lemon thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, bay, caraway, chervil, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, tarragon.

• Goose– clary, marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, parsley, chervil, garlic.

• Lamb– lemon balm, basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, chervil, dill, fennel, garlic.

• Pork– lemon balm, basil, clary, marjoram, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme, chives, fennel, anise.

• Rabbit– basil, lemon thyme, rosemary, sage, thyme.

• Turkey– basil, lavender, lemon thyme, sage, thyme, tarragon, savory, oregano, lovage, garlic, fennel, bay, chervil, chives.

Be sure to use your herbs sparingly, and do not use all of the herbs listed at once. Be creative and enjoy your culinary creations. You are sure to make some divine dishes in the kitchen that are pleasing to even the most discerning palette. What are some of your favorite herb combinations that you have used in your favorite dishes?

Tips for a Beautiful Pond

Photo by earl53, morguefile.com

Photo by earl53, morguefile.com

Having a pond can introduce a sense of tranquility within your yard. The soft sound of the water and the beauty that a pond can provide can encourage a stress free environment. But what do you need to do to beautify your pond in order to reap the benefits that it can provide? Here are a few tips to help you to create a beautiful pond and keep it that way:

Fish

The size and depth of your pond will be a determining factor if you can safely add fish to it or not. You will need to ensure that your pond will be able to accommodate them. If you plan to add fish to your pond, you will need to determine if the depth of your pond will allow for it. It is recommended that the minimum depth of your pond for fish be at least 18”. However, 2 ½ feet is considered to be ideal. Remember that your fish will need cool water in the summer and will need to live under any ice in the winter. If your climate is extremely hot or cold, then you will need to ensure that there are a few extra inches added to the depth of your pond. This will have a considerable impact on the health of your fish.

It is usually a good idea to start small and add a few fish at a time. This will allow you to test the water in your pond and the surrounding habitat before you spend a lot of money. When adding goldfish and comets, a good rule of thumb is to add 1 inch of fish per every three gallons of water. For Koi, it is recommended to have five gallons of water for every inch of fish. As your fish grow, you may need to remove some of them to maintain an environment in your pond that is considered to be ideal.

You will need to treat the pond water with a conditioner before you add any fish. This is because tap water can contain chlorine, chloramines and other elements which are harmful and toxic to fish.

Plants

There are four major types of plants that are considered ideal for a garden pond. These plants are:

  • Oxygenating-These plants provide the vital oxygen that is needed by your fish and any other pond inhabitants.

  • Floating-The addition of floating plants will help to reduce the development of algae in your pond. A mature pond should have surface coverage of 60 to 70% by floating plants.

  • Water Lilies-These plants provide fish with needed shade and protection from predators.

  • Marginal Plants-These are found all along the outer edge of the pond. These plants blend in with the surrounding landscape and make the pond more attractive.

Maintenance

When you first install your pond, the water may appear to be cloudy until things have a chance to settle. There are also many factors which will encourage the growth of algae. These include strong sunlight, water that is warm and overstocking and overfeeding your pond fish. Using a skimmer will discourage the formation of algae in your pond. You can also add a UV sterilizer which will kill the algae and any other harmful bacteria. This will result in a clearer and cleaner pond. Using safe chemicals in combination with aquatic plants will also improve the quality of your water.

You will need to check the strainer cage of your pump periodically in order to remove any debris and keep it running at a peak performance. You should also clean the filters regularly so they can continue to operate at peak performance. This should usually be done once every two to three weeks for best results.

When choosing items for your pond, you should visit the aquatic section of your local garden center for help and advice. How are you planning to beautify the pond in your yard?