organic gardening

Things You Can Do With Organic Herbs

Youíve gone to the trouble of growing organic herbs, and now you have a bumper crop. You canít possibly use or give away all the herbs youíve grown, and you certainly donít want them to go to waste. Here are five wonderful things you can do with your excess organic herbs.

Dry

Itís easy to dry organic herbs, even in a relatively humid environment. Harvest the herbs early in the day, when it is cool. Use scissors or a sharp knife to cut fairly long stems. Wash the herbs carefully and lay on a clean towel to absorb excess moisture. Then bundle them together with pretty ribbon, and hang them somewhere out of the way where it is relatively dry (not in a laundry room or bathroom, for instance). If you hang them in direct sun, they will lose some of their color. When your organic herbs are completely dry - crinkly dry - put them in jars. They will last for about a year.

Freeze

Herbs freeze wonderfully well, and they will be just like fresh when you use them. Harvest the herbs as above and wash thoroughly. Lay them on towels to dry, turning occasionally to make sure there is no excess water on the herbs. Donít remove the leaves or flowers from the stem; herbs are best frozen on the stem. Place them in freezer bags and label. They will be good for six months or so. To use frozen herbs, remove the package and crumble off a few leaves, then put the package back in the freezer.

Make Herb Vinegar

Organic herb vinegars are beautiful and taste wonderful on salads and cooked vegetables. They make great gifts, too. Experiment with different organic herbs to find the flavor combinations you like best.

You will need:

  • Clean glass jar with lid.
  • Organic herbs - use the flowers, too, for an extra pretty color.
  • Vinegar - White vinegar works well, but you may have to look around to find organic white vinegar. Wine vinegars are good, too. Cider vinegar is the old stand-by, but it does have a strong flavor of its own. Fresh organic herbs are best for herb vinegars. Harvest and wash as above, then fill the jar with them. Add vinegar and cover; set aside for several weeks, then strain the herbs out.

Make Organic Herb Oils

Like herbal vinegars, herbal oils are wonderful on salads. They are also great for dipping bread into and cooking with. You can use your organic herbal oils as bath oils and skin moisturizers, too.

CAUTION: Herb oils MUST be refrigerated. Storage time is less when fresh herbs are used. Flavored oils are an ideal environment for the growth of certain bacteria, so it is important to follow storage directions carefully. Oils made with fresh organic herbs should be used within two weeks. Oils made with fully dried organic herbs can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator.

You will need:

  • A glass jar with lid
  • Organic herbs - either dried or fresh
  • Oil - Extra virgin olive oil is good for cooking, but you can use almost any oil.
To make organic herb oils, fill a glass bottle about half full of oil. Add the herbs, fill up with oil and cap.

Organic herbs and things made with them make good gifts. You can tie a ribbon around a bottle of bay oil or chive vinegar, package it with a loaf of bread or a salad set and have a unique gift that anybody will appreciate.


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Gardening Tip #7

Foliage plants usually have high nitrogen needs, while flowering plants, K2O is needed. Slow release fertilizers can be mixed with the compost. However, certain plants like cacti and orchids need special fertilizer. Feed plants during their most active growth period.