Monday, September 24, 2012

Pipian Verde de Pollo

To celebrate the Autumn Equinox I decided I wanted to make a feast from Mexico: One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, a cookbook I got last Yule. It's full of delicious-sounding traditional Mexican foods, but a lot of the entrees seem a bit time-consuming to make and best saved for special occasions. One of these days I'd love to make turkey mole, for instance, but this time around I decided to make Pipian Verde de Pollo, using some of the pepitas I still have saved from the great cushaw squash harvest of 2010.

I ended up with three quart mason jars full of seeds once all my squash were cut up and pureed. I searched and searched for a way to get the hulls off, with no luck. I did find instructions saying to crack the seeds with a rolling pin or mallet and then drop them into water, and the hulls should float while the rest of the seed sinks. That didn't work. Most of the seeds just got split in half, with the meat staying inside the seed.

Finally I gave up. On page 223, Rick Bayless says unhulled seeds can be used, though he prefers hulled seeds. Yes, but that defeats the point of using my own homegrown seeds!

Here are my homegrown seeds toasted. They really smelled good, and started making popping noises. It occurred to me that maybe the seeds would be easier to de-hull if they were toasted. Maybe the toasting makes the seed pull away from the seed coat better. Except I tried peeling a couple of them and it was still very difficult. There's got to be some trick to this!

Bayless says you are supposed to blend everything up in a blender, but I decided to use my food processor first to grind up the seeds as finely as I could (besides, my blender was already being used to puree the tortilla soup). This is my result. It had a lot of flecks of ground up seed hull with it. At this point I realized it would probably be best if I strained the sauce to get the hulls out, so I ground up about 2 cups of seed instead of the 1 1/4 cups the recipe called for, to make up for the volume lost by straining.

I then pureed the tomatillo, onion, garlic, herbs, and chiles (I used Lemon Drops from my garden) in the food processor, mixed them with the ground up pumpkin seeds and chicken stock, and then simmered them for 20 minutes like the recipe said. I tasted it after the simmering, and it had a delicious flavor, but sure enough, there were those tough, fibrous shards of hull floating around in the sauce. Those had to go.

After straining the sauce, I was alarmed at how much volume was left behind in the strainer, even after lots of scraping and pushing through the mesh. Good thing I put extra pumpkin seeds in. There's got to be an easier way to do this. I did end up with a lovely smooth, creamy sauce when done, with plenty of nutty pumpkin seed flavor.

Another change I made to the recipe was that Bayless cooks the chicken (he uses six skinless bone-in chicken breasts), along with some zucchini and chayote squash separately, and then adds them to the sauce. I used one cut-up whole chicken (free range of course), and calabacitas for the squash. It sounded like a lot of trouble to cook everything separately, so I browned the skinned chicken pieces in a pot, and then added the squash and the pipian and braised them in the sauce until done. This is similar to the technique he uses with his turkey mole, so I don't know why he has it different with the chicken.

Here is the result. I served the chicken and squash with his arroz blanco, which is like a rice pilaf with lime juice, and some fried plantains. Tortilla soup was the first course, and for dessert we had his Mexican chocolate strudel cake, which is one of his "contemporary" recipes.

It was very good, and this recipe uses a lot of things I can grow myself: garlic, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, epazote, pumpkin seeds, tomatillos, chiles, and cilantro. That's just about everything besides the chicken and olive oil, though the chicken was still locally raised.

Now if I could just figure out how to get the hulls off the pumpkin seeds so I could save myself a lot of trouble straining.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Starting the Beet Variety Trial

When I was a kid first getting into gardening, ordering seeds from seed catalogs with my mom's borrowed credit card, I would stare and stare and stare at the pages trying to decide which variety of a certain vegetable I wanted to get. I was so hard to decide, but I was sure I needed to get only one variety of each thing. Who really needs more than one variety of anything, right? I even felt bad about ordering a variety that costed a little more than the others, because that would be a waste of money (that one is fifty cents more, oh no!), so the price was a thing I took into consideration along with the pretty pictures and descriptions. If there was more than one variety I wanted to try, I would pick one, usually the cheapest, and then tell myself once I run out of those seeds and need to reorder, I would try the other one. Using up a whole seed packet in a small garden takes a few years, so I didn't end up getting to try a lot of things.

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties has started to change my mind about that. She has a whole chapter about conducting variety trials, where she describes buying many varieties of mustard greens to see which one preforms best in her garden. It sounded like so much fun, perhaps it's worth "wasting" the money buying a few extra $2 or $3 packets of seed.

I've already been doing trials of a sort with the garlic, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, and posting the results here. Except the difference with those is I plan on growing multiple varieties of those all the time anyway, because different varieties are good for different things. There are tomatoes for cooking, tomatoes for slicing onto sandwiches, and tomatoes for salads. There are bell peppers and hot peppers good for drying and making chili powder, and hot peppers good for pickling. Some sweet potatoes are sweet and moist and others are dry and starchy. And even though I use all my garlic pretty much interchangeably in the kitchen, different varieties of garlic mature at different times and store for different lengths of time, so it's still worth it to plant a few different ones. If I were to do a "real" trial with those, I'd plant a bunch of paste tomatoes to compare, or a bunch of bell peppers to compare, or something like that (which I actually would like to do some day).

However, there are some crops that I'd probably be fine with growing only one variety of. Collard greens, for example. I think I could figure out one variety of collard I like best and grow that one all the time. Then again, technically collards are in the same species as kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, and those are certainly not interchangeable, so maybe it still counts as growing a lot of varieties of the same thing.

But even for vegetables where only one variety would do, I still have to figure out what that one best variety is (best for me, of course, your mileage may vary). Back when everyone grew their own vegetables, the one best variety for the area was passed down from generation to generation in a family, but now I have to start from scratch.

This fall planting season I didn't have any more beet or carrot seed, so I thought this was my chance to do a trial, since I needed to buy more seed anyway. I decided to go with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this time, since it looks like they have a good selection, and I re-read the chapter on conducting trials in Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. Beets and carrots are both vegetables I think I'd be fine with growing only one good variety of, but I need to find out what that variety is (and I could be wrong and maybe it is worth it to grow more than one).

After thinking about it some more, I decided I needed to simplify things for myself and not do both beets and carrots in the same year. I have a bad habit of biting off more than I can chew, so it would be best to do one simple trial well than a couple of big complicated trials poorly. I went with beets because I have grown a good crop of them in the past, while carrots continue to give me trouble. If I did a carrot trial it's possible that none of them might make it, but with beets I'm much more likely to actually get some beets to eat.

I can do carrots next time.

Next I had to choose which varieties of beets I want from the 15 Baker Creek has listed on their website (it's not quite seed catalog season yet, so I had to order off the website). Carol Deppe says that a variety trial is really a scientific experiment, and in every scientific experiment you should have a control. In a variety trial your control is some sort of "standard" variety. It's either your favorite variety you've already been growing, or the most common variety everyone grows.

I've grown two varieties of beets before. Bull's Blood was my first, and then when I ran out of that, I grew Detroit Dark Red, which probably counts as the "standard" beet. All seed catalogs have Detroit Dark Red. It's like the Purple Top turnip of beets. However, since I never grew Bull's Blood and Detroit Dark red side by side in the same year, I can't really say which one is best. See, that's why you need to do trials!

So I knew I had to get those two, and then have fun getting some more that I've never grown before. I ruled out any of the long, skinny ones like Cylindra or Crapaudine, because I have heavy soil. I wanted to get ones I thought had a good chance of growing well. Flat of Egypt doesn't sound good to me because a flattened beet sounds like it would be hard to slice. They have a few varieties of fodder beets, and I'm not a rabbit, so I ruled those out.

I realized I have a prejudice against non-red beets. It just seems wrong. Beets are supposed to be red. And I know from tomatoes that color can actually make a difference in flavor. Vegetables don't work like M&M's. The colors don't all taste the same. The darker the color of a tomato, the more flavor it seems to have. I'm suspecting it's the same with beets, but I'm not sure since I've never tasted a non-red beet. I couldn't bring myself to get Albino, but I did go ahead and get a couple of other non-red beets.

Here are the beets I ended up getting. I thought five was a good number to start with. I could have gotten a couple more, but like I said, I'm trying to resist my tendency to go overboard with these things.

  • Bull's Blood - This was the first beet I ever grew. It did well and I loved the purple foliage.
  • Chioggia - I don't know how to pronounce this beet! I've seen people rave about it for so long, I decided to finally try it. It's white and red stripes on the inside, and I think the reason people love it is because it's so pretty, so it looks good in magazine photos. Interestingly, the reviews on Baker Creek's website are not kind, saying this beet is sweet but without much flavor. Maybe color is related to flavor after all! Oh well, I guess I'll see for myself.
  • Detroit Dark Red - The standard beet everybody has. Just a regular round red beet with green leaves.
  • Golden - If I was going to plant a non-red beet I decided an orange beet would be best. At least I could get some beta carotene out of it. Catalogs always say this variety is good because it doesn't stain everything red, but again, it just seems wrong to me to have a beet that doesn't stain everything red. That's just what beets do! Oh well, I'll give it a chance.
  • Lutz Salad Leaf - I got this one because Baker Creek says it stores well, and stays tender even when large. That sounds good to me. I like the idea of growing vegetables that store well. This also seems to be a rarer variety. The other four varieties are carried by many catalogs, but I don't really see Lutz around as much.

Along with the beets, I also ordered a packet of Danver's Half Long carrots. That's a standard carrot around here, so I decided if I was only going to grow one carrot, I'd grow that one, and then get more varieties to compare to it in the future. (I also got a couple of varieties of fava beans, but that's a subject for another post.) Deppe suggests you plant your trials so that plants you can tell apart easily are side-by-side, or you can plant some other crop between them to keep them separate. Great minds think alike since I already got that idea on my own and have been doing both with garlic (alternate hardnecks and softnecks next to each other, with rows of brassicas between each variety), so I decided to separate my beet varieties with carrots.

I got my hoe and made furrows across the bed about 6 inches apart, and then planted two rows of each beet variety with one row of carrots between them. For small seeds like this I just sprinkle the seeds in the furrows, and then water them and let the running water cover the seeds with soil.

I planted the beets in the following order: Golden - Lutz - Chioggia - Detroit - Bull's Blood. Since Lutz and Detroit are both red-rooted and green-leafed, I didn't want them right next to each other in case I couldn't tell them apart. The other beets should be pretty obvious which is which.

Ideally, to have the a better experimental design, I would repeat that sequence of beets further down the bed. Just in case one side of the bed is different than the other. Carol Deppe even suggests alternating the standard with the experimental varieties, so I'd have a row of Detroit, than a row of something else, then another row of Detroit, than another row of something else, and so on. But she also says you should just plant whatever is practical, and even professional scientists often have to pare down their experimental designs for practical reasons. Besides, gardeners eat their own experiments, and how many beets can I eat? I think one double-row of each variety is plenty for now.

And if you didn't already know what a plant nerd I was, you know now, since here I am doing scientific experiments with garden vegetables in my spare time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Garlic is Planted

I had such a great garlic harvest in 2010, but then in 2011 it was the drought, and in 2012 it was the move. No garlic, back to buying it from the store. The great thing about gardening, though, is there's always next year. Maybe 2013 will be another year with a garage full of curing garlic. I hope so, because garlic is one of my favorite things to grow and to eat.

This year I ordered planting garlic from Gourmet Garlic Gardens. It's a neat website run by a guy from Texas, with a lot of good info about growing garlic in warm climates. I got the Warm Winter Sampler, which ended up getting me three new varieties of garlic I haven't tried before.

Burgundy is a Creole garlic, which I'm happy about, because Creoles are supposed to do well in warm areas. I tried to grow another Creole, Ajo Rojo, year before last, but the late freeze killed it (before the drought finished off everything else). One interesting thing is I remember Ajo Rojo's bulbs having only one layer of cloves around the central "hardneck" stalk, but Burgundy had two layers. I ended up with a lot more cloves of this than any of my other varieties. Not only did they give me three whole bulbs, but each one had a lot of tall, thin cloves in it. I ended up with 70 cloves in total. Hope it does well!

I've seen a lot of raves about Music, except I'm not sure why I got Music in a warm climate sampler, because I was under the impression that it likes cold climates. It's a Porcelain, which are so-so in warm climates, in general. Hope it does OK.

Another Porcelain, with only a few large cloves per bulb. I'm assuming since it's from Romania, then it should be especially good against vampires, if I get a good crop.

Those are the three new varieties of garlic I got, and then I have a couple that I actually managed to harvest this year that I'm going to try replanting.

I got a small harvest of Elephant garlic, though they were only the size of regular garlic. I went ahead and divided them into cloves and planted them anyway.

The Lorz Italian was the only other garlic from the last harvest I felt was worth replanting. As you can see, most of the bulbs only got to about quarter-sized and never divided into cloves. I was able to divide a couple of them into two. I'll see how they do. I also planted Lorz the year before, and it was killed by the drought like everything else, but it was one of the ones that hung on longer. That leads me to believe it's probably a good variety for me, if it could just get a fair chance. It's an Artichoke, which is a type that usually does well in warm areas. In 2010, the highest yielding garlics I grew were all artichokes (Red Toch, Chet's Italian Red, and Broadleaf Czech), but unfortunately I couldn't obtain planting garlic for any of those varieties this year. Planting garlic sells out so fast!

All five of my garlic varieties are now planted, taking up one whole bed on the end, with kale plants separating them so I can be sure to keep track of what variety is what. I'm going to put a thick mulch of grass clippings over them as soon as I get around to mowing the yard, and I hope they do well!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Birds Playing in the Sprinkler

It looks like summer is finally over! The weatherman said we aren't going to get any more triple digit heat this year. Before I get too much into cool weather mode, I wanted to post these pictures I took of various birds enjoying the sprinkler in the garden a couple of weeks ago when it was still blazing hot. I realize sprinklers are not the most efficient way of delivering water to the garden, and I plan on fixing that in the future, but in the meantime the birds sure to like it. Every time I had the sprinkler going, I got a good variety of birds playing in it, often ones I don't otherwise see. The other nice thing about it is they're usually so busy they don't me getting pretty close with the camera to take pictures of their antics.

I already posted a few pictures of this Black and White Warbler, but I thought I'd put them up again, since it fits with the subject of this post.
Then the next week I got some more birds visiting the sprinkler. The one on the left in this picture is a Nashville Warbler, with the yellow belly, gray head, and white eye-rings. That's another new one for me. The one on the right might be a female Yellow Warbler. There was a male Yellow Warbler hanging around too, but he didn't keep still enough for me to take a picture of him.
Another Nashville Warbler looking very happy singing in the "rain".
Now, this bird has me puzzled. The beak looks too thick to be a warbler. Warblers have thin, insect-eating beaks. This bird has more of a thick, seed-eating beak. I'm thinking it's probably a female something. Females are usually harder to identify since they don't have plumage that's as distinctive as the males. At first I thought she was a female goldfinch, but looking at my bird guide, I think she looks more like a female Painted Bunting. Actually, female Painted Buntings look exactly the same as immature male Painted Buntings too, so that's another possibility. They're both olive-green. I did see an adult male Painted Bunting at the feeder a while ago, and there's no mistaking them! So I know they're in the area, so this is probably a Painted Bunting as well.

A few weeks ago while my husband and I were over at my in-laws' house to water their garden (they were away on vacation) and even more exciting bird flew down to play in the water: a Golden-Cheeked Warbler! Now that was exciting! I'd only seen those before at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. But it stuck around long enough and got close enough that we're 100% sure it was a GCW. My in-laws were very excited to hear they've got endangered species hanging out in their backyard.

Now the birds don't need to play in the sprinklers. They've got plenty of natural rain to play in, and a lot of out summer birds are going to start leaving soon for Mexico and South America. However, we've got a whole batch of winter birds who spend the summer in Canada and winter here and should be arriving soon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Vegetable Growing Seasons in Texas

When I was a kid growing up in the Dallas area, I was taught that you planted the vegetable garden in the spring, sometime around Easter, and harvest was in the summer and fall. We planted the whole thing at once, over a weekend or two, and some things did fine with that, but some things didn’t. The cherry tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash did fine, but the lettuce didn’t last long until it bolted and turned bitter, and the onion sets we planted never grew into big bulbs.

Since then I’ve learned a lot more about growing vegetables in Texas, or at least in Central Texas where I live now. The idea of planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall may work for most of the country, and that’s why you find it in most generic gardening books, but this far South things are a bit different. Remember, all gardening is local. Fortunately, there’s more and more regional gardening information coming out all the time.

Texas actually has two distinct growing seasons with two distinct groups of crops. You have the summer crops, which are planted in spring and harvested in summer or fall, and then you have the winter crops, which are planted in fall and harvested in spring. The good news is that means you can have something growing in your garden all year. The bad news is you have a do a bit more research to find out when you can plant what. Of course, you could just do what some people do, and not bother with the winter crops, but my goal is to get as much food out of my garden as possible, so leaving the garden empty during the winter when I could be growing all kinds of things just seems like a waste. So here is a list of what crops are the warm-weather crops, and which the cool-weather crops are. The main difference between the two is whether or not they can survive a frost. Most summer crops can’t survive a frost, while most winter crops can, but bolt or turn bitter or otherwise do poorly in hot weather.

Summer Crops:
Nightshades – tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos
Cucurbits – squash, melons, cucumbers, gourds
Warm weather legumes – common beans, lima beans, and cowpeas (which includes black-eyed peas and yardlong beans)
Warm weather greens – Malabar spinach, amaranth
Sweet potatoes

Winter Crops:
Root crops – carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas
Brassicas – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards
Salad greens – lettuce, arugula, spinach, chicory, endive, Swiss chard
Cold weather legumes – peas and fava beans
Cold weather annual herbs – parsley, dill, cilantro, fennel
Alliums – onions, garlic, leeks

There are some general rules of thumb. Most plants where you eat the fruit, like tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, etc. are warm weather crops. Most plants where you eat the leaves or roots are cool weather crops, but there are some exceptions.

Since frost hurts or even kills warm weather crops, you have to plant them after your average frost date (which here is in early March), though you can plant nightshade transplants earlier if you give them protection. I sometimes plant them in February, since by then whatever frosts we might have are minor and I can run out there and throw a cover over them if it happens. Depending on the severity of the summer, some of these crops can last the whole summer, while others might die by August, though sometimes you can plant a second crop in time for fall.

Cool weather crops need to be grown during the winter, because in hot weather they bolt and turn bitter, or just shrivel up and die. Most of them can survive the whole winter until it starts getting warm again around May or so, but in unusually cold winters some might die and can be replanted in late winter or early spring for a quick crop before it gets too hot for them.

The tricky part, which I haven’t quite mastered yet, is coordinating the planting and harvesting times for cool and warm weather crops. I’d like to get the maximum amount of food out of my garden plot as possible, so that means that ideally as soon as one crop is done, I can immediately plant another crop of something else in the same spot. The problem is there is significant overlap between one bunch of crops being done and a new bunch being planted.

Right now is one of those in-between times. We’ve gotten a couple of cold fronts, so it’s finally cool enough to start planting the fall/winter crops. The problem is, many of the summer crops managed to survive the summer (not all, but some), and are still taking up room in the garden. It does depend on the severity of the summer, but this year all my peppers survived the summer, along with a few of the tomatoes, the basil, and the luffa gourds. I went ahead and ripped out the pole beans, melons, and squash, which were all either dead or mostly dead. That has left some room to start sticking in fall crops here and there.

My strategy so far is to just squeeze stuff in where I can. Here you can see my newly transplanted mustard greens next to some peppers and one of the few surviving tomatoes. It seems to mostly work, but makes the garden very patchy and haphazard looking. But maybe that’s ok.

Some forethought is necessary, though, especially for some crops. For example, potatoes are planted in January or February, which is a while after the first fall crops are planted, so I have to make sure to set aside a patch for them while I'm planting things in September and October. Then they’re harvested in May or June, which is a bit too late to plant a lot of summer crops like peppers and tomatoes. But then what do I do with the empty spot where the potatoes were harvested? I have to find a crop that can stand being planted that late in the year, when it’s already getting hot outside. Garlic presents a similar problem. It’s planted at the same time as most fall crops, but isn’t harvested until May or June, again leaving an empty spot in the garden when it’s too late to plant a lot of things. The last time I planted potatoes, I followed them up with sweet potatoes, and that seemed to work well. I wonder if okra, watermelon, or cowpeas would work too. You need something that can really stand the heat. Tomatoes or cucumbers don't work. May is just too late for them.

If you grow your own transplants, that complicates things even more, because you have to have the forethought of starting them a month or two in advance of when they go out in the garden. That means fall brassicas are started in early August when it’s blazing hot outside, and I start my tomatoes and peppers right in the middle of winter. It seems wrong, I know, but I kept having to push the date back and back and back, until I found myself planting tomatoes on New Year's.

It takes some research and trial-and-error, but I try to make it so there’s always something growing in the garden.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Blue Moon

Last night was the Blue Moon, since it was the second full moon in one month. I tried to find out why it's called the blue moon, but with no luck. Last night during our evening walk I looked up at the moon and thought of Neil Armstrong, who died only a few days ago. He was a true hero. I can't imagine how terrifying and thrilling it must have been to be the first human ever to walk on the moon.

Back here on Earth, I'm glad August is finally over and that means it must be cooling down soon! Alas, it's still been in the high 90's most days. We had a weak cold front earlier in the month that made it more like the low 90's and even high 80's for a few days, but it went away quickly.

This Labor Day weekend is also the 1 year anniversary of the horrible Bastrop wildfires. It's a good reminder that at least this summer was not nearly as bad as last summer. No big wildfires this time around.

Out in the garden, the peppers are the healthiest looking plants. They quit setting fruit, but will probably start up again and give a second crop in fall. Which means I'm going to end up with a lot of peppers!

A few of the fall tomatoes didn't make it, and the ones that did are still small. It's just an experiment, so I'm not getting my hopes up too much. If they get some fruit, that would be great, but they might not have time before frost, with how slowly they're growing out there in the heat.

As for the spring tomatoes that I pruned back, it looks like about half of them died, and half of them are starting to grow back, like this one here. I think they're probably more likely to give another crop before frost than the fall tomatoes, since the plants already bigger.

The one honeydew melon I had rotted before I picked it. What a disappointment! The rest of the vines aren't looking too good either. I think maybe this isn't such a good variety after all. Even if the fruit hadn't rotted, it did only set one fruit among four plants. It's San Juan from Native Seeds/SEARCH, and I didn't notice this when I bought it, but the catalog says it's a variety for the "high desert". I'm not completely sure what they mean by high desert vs. low desert varieties, but I think the low desert ones are more heat tolerant than the high desert ones. Maybe from now on I should stick to low desert varieties when I buy seeds from there. They recommend runner beans for the high desert, and I know they don't do well here at all. I grew Scarlet Runner once and got one pod.

This is my tangle of cucumber, luffa gourd, and mustang grape vines, and they aren't looking too good either. The luffa vines look the best, though they still haven't set any fruit. I expect cucumbers to die in summer anyway, so no surprise there. I'd like to find a more heat tolerant cucumber variety that could actually survive a Texas summer, but so far no luck. I am a little worried about the wild mustang grape vine that was already growing there on its own.. It seems to have some sort of fungal infection, with rusty spots on the leaves. I wanted that grape vine to cover the fence, so I hope it recovers.

I was sure the Rattlesnake pole beans were all dead, but it looks like a few are starting to grow back. I found a few still-green vines mixed in with all the dead ones. Maybe I'll get a second batch of beans before frost.
Yes, the leeks are still here. I'm really surprised they haven't bolted yet. I've left them in the garden to see if they'll produce bulbils that can be planted next year. Those are little mini-bulbs that grow out the sides of old leeks, and can be replanted to propagate leeks asexually. I ought to dig some up to see if they have any yet. If it works out, this might be a better way for me to propagate leeks in the garden than from seed.

The basil I planted in the summer is still hanging in there, though in this picture it's very wilted. It's growing slowly, but should pick up in fall, hopefully well enough to make some batches of pesto to put in the freezer. Basil is very heat tolerant as long as it gets enough water. It bolts when it gets very hot, but I just pinch the flowers off (except for the basils I'm growing for seed). Bolting doesn't seem to adversely affect the flavor of basil like it does for some other herbs.

Here's a picture of what I plan on becoming an herb garden this fall. We have a nice patio in the back of the house, and I thought it would be neat to plant herbs along the brick ledge. That way the trailing herbs like thyme and mint will cascade over the bricks, and once we get a table and chairs and start having dinner parties out there, people can brush up against the herbs surrounding them and smell the fragrance. That's the idea, anyway. There's already esparanza there and a couple of rose bushes, but still plenty of room for herbs.  I've been piling leaves and grass clippings up to start improving the soil and choking out the grass and weeds.  On the patio you can see three of my potted herbs that I'm going to plant in the ground. They've been in these pots for a long time, but now that I have my own place they're going in the ground. Herbs always seem to do better in the ground anyway. I'll probably plant these pretty soon. It's a bit too hot and humid out there right now to make me feel much like digging holes, but the first cooler day we have when I have time, they're going in!

And then there's my fall vegetables. I've got mustard greens, collard greens, arugula, broccoli raabe, kale, chard, parsley, dill, and cilantro waiting for their turn in the garden too. Most of them are still small and can stay in the pots a bit longer, but it won't be too much longer before it's time for them to go in the ground too.