Herb Harvest

We’ve had a strange growing season in the Adirondacks. Seedlings paused their growth when temperatures dropped in May and June and everything is late. My morning glories were straggly vines all summer, only to bloom beautifully in September. They are still blooming against the backdrop of autumn leaves.

For some reason every grasshopper in the area migrated to my yard and decimated the herb and vegetable beds. One day I had the nicest broccoli crowns I’d ever grown, the next day, sticks. Newly planted mint, which I expected to take over the bed by summer’s end, struggled to survive the onslaught of hungry insects. In the end, it was a poor year.

I’ve read that, here in the north, you can tell when to plant garlic by looking to the mountains. When they explode with color, it’s time. Last weekend the mountains said plant, so I did.

The sage and oregano, probably because they were older, established plants, managed to survive the grasshoppers. Despite the beautiful fall weather, I know it’s time to prepare the plants for winter. I cut them back, harvesting plenty to dry for use over the winter.

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Giving up on the tomatoes ever ripening on the vine, I grabbed those as well, wrapped them in newspaper and tucked them into a paper bag to see if they would turn red.

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There were plenty of chives. There are always plenty of chives. (Why does nothing eat chives?) I chopped them and filled the dehydrator. In about two hours they had dried and we have more than enough to last until spring.

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Cold and flu season is on it’s way, so I prepared some sage-infused honey, my favorite sore throat remedy. I cut some leaves and put them in the bottom of a small jar, then poured honey in until the leaves were completely covered. I mashed them against the bottom of the jar with a chopstick until all the air was out and the leaves were somewhat crushed and completely coated with honey. Then I capped the jar and stored it in the dark corner of a cabinet.

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Bunches of sage, oregano and the little bit of mint I could take are hanging over my kitchen window to air dry. The smell is divine.

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