Friday, August 31, 2007
Herbs are very willing to share space with other plants and each other.
They really seem to grow much better when they are somewhat crowded.
This photo is my little kitchen garden just outside my kitchen door.
For normal, daily cooking you can grow everything you need in a very small space.
A 4 foot square will do and a 6 foot space will be abundant.
One or two plants of each...basil, thyme, oregano, chives and dill will serve most of your daily cooking needs well.
A rosemary bush is a must, but I don't suggest putting it in the bed with other plants, it will grow very large and totally crowd out anything close by.
It's fun to play with a small garden, try different things until you get just the right mix.
Herbs are not only wonderful in your food, they make a beautiful visual sight as well.
The blooms from garlic chives and oregano are just breathtaking. And, you will always have an abundance of butterflies around your door.
This is what a collection of 4x8 beds will look like. I find this the best size for working the soil and harvesting the herbs. It's possible to work without walking in the beds, which will eventually pack your soil down and cause a drainage problem.
I like garden timbers for the building of beds, but rock, fencing, and brick, are all good options.
Once you have built or formed your beds then it's time to fill it up with good, rich and natural soil (compost)
September is a perfect time to build beds, this means you have fall and winter to make your soil and have it ready for planting in the new spring.
Composting can be done two ways, one, you can simply go to your favorite garden center and buy the compost or you can make your own.
And you can mix the two and simplify the task somewhat.
If you opt for making your own, you will need a compost tumbler or a space large enough to make and work a pile of composting material on the ground.
I highly suggest the tumbler.
Into the tumbler/pile you will need a balanced blend of paper, green material, brown material and water.
Just think of the prosess as making a layer cake.
Lay a layer of paper (about 5-10 sheets thick, or you can use cardboard.)
On top of the paper add a layer of grass clipping, any kitchen peelings from fruits and vegetables, egg shells (crushed) and tea and coffee grinds.
A layer of dried leaves, small cuttings from branches, flowers you have deadheaded, etc.
To this layered mix add a layer of horse, cow, or chicken manure. (that has already been composted)
Water thoroughly and cover with a light tarp.
The mixture will cook and breakdown from the heat buildup and will simply decompose.
If using a tumbler, just add all the same ingredients and turn the composter about 5 turns every day or at least 3 times a week.
After about 4 to 6 weeks you will have the richest soil you could ever hope for.
Remove it and add it to your beds. You can use just compost or you can mix it with other soil for growing.
I always add peatmoss to my beds, it's a wonderful medium for keeping the soil loose and for drainage.
Your beds are now ready for planting .
By using a rich composting method of growing you will need no fertilizers.
You will also have no problem with weeds or pest from the soil.
Raised beds and composted soil is the only way to grow for me.
Make it a gardening day!
Sage Hill Farms
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Creamy Dilled Pot Roast
3-4lb beef pot roast
2 tbsp dill weed-divided
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup water or red wine
1 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp arror-root or cornstarch
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Place roast in a well seasoned crockpot with 1 tbsp of dill weed, salt and pepper sprinkled on top.
Add water/wine and vinegar
slow cook for 7 to 9 hours until tender
When done...remove roast from pot, turn to high, add the thickening agent of choice and the remaining dill weed...stir and cook until thickness is desired.
If you want more gravy...add a cup of beef stock to a skillet and thicken with a little more arror-root-then add to crockpot gravy and let the flavors blend.
Serve with your favorite noodles or as a stand alone main meat dish with other vegetables. New potatoes and baby carrots are a great addition to this meal.
PS: fresh or dried dill will give you the same results in this recipe.