Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thyme For Pruning

This is the time we have to make the decision on cutting back the herbs that require pruning.

It's difficult I know to take the clippers to a beautifully formed bush that is just sitting there looking perfect. But...if some pruning isn't done the spring will give you a bush that is straggly and somewhat slow growing.

Regardless the size of the shrub, 1/3 of it can be easily taken off, this will allow it to adapt to the new shape before the colder weather arrives.

I don't suggest pruning any later the this don't need open cuts on any plant when the cold season arrives, this can cause damage to the stems that can easily be the death of the whole plant.

Thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano are all cold tolerant and will put out new growth and give you fresh pickings all winter.

If you are in a much colder climate ( I'm in the middle south )row covers might be needed to protect some perennials.

Happy Gardening~

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn-From The Herb Gardens To The Table~

No matter where you live or how you garden, each season has its own special draw.

Autumn or Fall is the pre-launch pad for the more glittery holidays of winter.

But Autumn is for me and can be for you, the most delightful months of the the gardens.

At Sage Hill Farms-it means a time of slowing down, taking the time to look back and look around at all the accomplishments achieved during the rush days of summer.

Rosemary, thyme, chives, basil and oregano are still flourishing in my gardens.
Depending on your location, your basil may be history until next year, the first cool snap will render it ugly and tastless. ( so don't forget to dry some during the last days of growing ) can order the most delicious dried basil from Sage Hill Farms...along with many other seasonings and herbal/blended tea's.

Autumn is also our favorite grilling season, especially the month of September and October, the weather has toned down to a mild, comfortable outside degree, the pest have moved on to a warmer climate, and some of the most comforting foods are wonderful on the grill.

Two of those being Patty Melts and grilled Green Tomatoes.

Autumn is the only time of year we eat burgers, they just seem to be made for this special time. We are winding down from the summer and they are easy and delicious.

A relaxing evening on the deck/patio, warm easy comfort food, and a good friend or two or three, or...a small family gathering...perfect.
Patty Melts with Grilled Onions and Grilled Green Tomatoes )
( recipe for 4 )

1 pound ground beef or turkey ( I do turkey )
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pink, or real...anything besides table salt.
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 clove garlic-finely chopped
4 slices Swiss cheese
8 slices fresh rye bread

1- Heat coals or gas grill.

( prepare thin sliced onions and sliced green tomatoes for a grilling pan.)

Slice both and toss with a small amount of grape seed oil or olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on grilling pan, cover with cooking foil and allow to cook until burgers are ready.)

Mix all ingredients except onions, cheese an bread.
Shape mixture into 4 patties, about 1/4" thick.

2- Cover and grill patties 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink in the center.

Top patties with cheese, cover and grill 1 minute or until cheese is melted.

Add bread slices to the grill for at least 5 minutes, turning once.

Place patties on bread and top with onion and tomato.

** Because of the low fat content turkey patties may stick to the grill unless the grill is oiled...* do this before lighting the grill.*

Serve with grilled melon for a very special meal.

Any breakfast melon is good...Cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.

Slice about 2" thick, brush with Basil Lemon Marinade.

Place on the hottest part of grill the last 4 to 5 minutes of burger cooking.
Grill each side until grill stripes are visible on the wedges.
Brush a few times with marinade while cooking.

** Basil Lemon Marinade**

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup thin sliced basil leaves ( or 1/4 cup dried.
1/4 cup olive or grape seed oil.

Mix all ingredients and allow to sit for 20 minutes before using.

This is a recipe you can alter to your own liking...ripe tomato instead of green, your favorite cheese, etc.

Enjoy and do bask in the crispness of Autumn~

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sage or Salvia~

Several times this year I've had people stop and ask about the beautiful plant growing at the entrance to Sage Hill...a tall bushy plant that is known as "Mexican Bush Sage" and it is a sage and a salvia.

Salvia is a large genus with over 60 species and up to 100 selections ranging from annuals to tender perennials to hardy perennials.

Also they are in the family of Lamiaceae, more commonly known as the Mint family.
Rosemary, Lamb's ear and other mints are also in this family.

Common characteristics are square stems, opposite branching and fuzzy foliage with an aromatic twist.

The Mexican Bush Sage is native to Mexico and is considered to be a tender perennial-hardy to zone 7.

I've had some luck with over-wintering and other times I've lost it, but, I always have it, it is too pretty to not have it in the selection of the sage bed.

The trick to growing Mexican Bush Sage is good drainage and plenty of sun.
Mexican Bush is drought tolerant, so no need to fuss over watering.

Also has no issues with pest and disease...near the perfect plant choice.

Looking for a new plant to add to your garden, consider the Mexican Bush Sage.

The butterflies love it too.

The Mexican Bush Sage is the plant in the back of the bed with the purple spikes.

This is the season for the warmer spices and pungent herbs.

Sage, Rosemary, Tarragon and of course cinnamon and cloves.

I'm looking forward to the seasons entrance into my kitchen.

(A Delicious Side Dish or An Addition To Breakfast)

A collection of red, yellow and green tomatoes.
Sliced and arranged on a baking sheet that has been coated with a good cooking oil.

Sprinkle the tomatoes with a combination of dried sage, garlic and dried tarragon.

Broil until tomatoes are good and hot.
Just before removing from the oven sprinkle with your favorite cheese.

Yummy with eggs and grits...or polenta.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms~

Friday, September 11, 2009

Searching For The Why~

Today I spent most of my time in the gardens, as I do every year on this 9/11 date. Every year I ask the same questions...why ?

Such a horrific happening and never fully explained...why ?

Never fully investigated...why ?

We, as a free people just accepted the word of higher powers as to the reason...why ?

So much to be thankful for, so much to celebrate...yet my thoughts are surrounded with a tinge of uncertainty...why ?

When I can't answer my own questions I go to the gardens...why ?

I feel closer to God when I'm there and somehow the whys don't seem so pressing.

Prayers of peace on this day for our country and our world.

Bea Kunz

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Bea's Favorite Gardening Tips~

These timely tips can apply to any type gardening, not just herbs. are planting directly in the ground, take time to prepare your soil properly. Get a soil test or do it yourself with a simple soil kit.
In areas where the soil is rocky and otherwise poor soil...just bypass that idea and build raised beds. Less repetitive work, less pest, less weeds...what's not to like.

Make choices based on your local areas native plant history.
Check with your Ag office or home extension service to get good info what does and doesn't do well in your area.

If planting from nursery stock, make your selection when plants are in bloom.
This way you know you are getting what you think you are getting.

Always water cell packs before putting them into the ground.

If using pine straw as mulch...shred it first.

Invest in a simple irrigation system or at least a good quality kink-free hose.

Always add fresh organic matter ( compost ) at every new planting season.

Fall and winter is the best time to move established plants that must be moved.

Fall is the best time to plant perennials, roses, trees, and shrubs.

Always plan your garden so every season has something to offer for functionality and for visual delights.

And...avoid using chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
They all deplete your soil of good things and put ingredients into your edible plants that will not serve you well for good health.

Happy gardening and stay safe and healthy~

Have a wonderful Labor Day...

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms