Posts Tagged ‘chives’

IMG_9688It’s actually quite pathetic. We got some broccoli and some radishes, but only enough to make side dishes for one meal.

The broccoli was just sauteed in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon. The radishes were cooked in butter with some chives.

Simple, but very good!

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In my head, I said this post’s title much like Dr. Frankenstein when his experiment woke up.

While it may seem a bit silly, it kind of replicates my feelings when I saw our herbs bouncing back. The oregano has sprouted a handful of leaves, and the chives and mint are getting out of control, which is a bit of a surprise because it’s still so early in the season.

Chives and oregano in the first pot, mint behind it.

Chives and oregano in the first pot, mint behind it. The thyme didn’t survive the transplant.

Last year we dedicated an entire raised bed to herbs. Matt thought that was a waste of space, and I’ve come to see his point. Our plan this year is to intersperse the herbs throughout the vegetable beds – both as a space saver and possible pest deterrent.

But until we planted tomatoes, squash, peppers and a host of other plants, herbs were going to be on hold. So when I dug up the landscape fabric from last year’s herb bed, I replanted the chives, thyme and oregano in a spare pot until they were needed.

My thought was if they survive, great; if not, no big deal.

We’re glad to see they’re mostly doing well – the thyme looks dead, but the other two transplants look lush. I’m going to divide the chives into smaller clumps and plant them around the maple tree in our back yard. We also have hostas there that were nearly destroyed by slugs, and chives are supposed to repel those slimy beasts. Plus, they have pretty purple flowers when you let them go to seed.

As for the mint, well, Derby Day is right around the corner …

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One of our goals this year is to be more diligent about checking our plants for pests or diseases. So last night we took a stroll to check on the vegetables in the ground. I was particularly concerned about the broccoli plants because they’re in the same family as Brussels sprouts, and the cabbage white butterfly decimated those last year.

These two small slugs did quite a bit of damage to the broccoli leaf in just one day.

These two small slugs did quite a bit of damage to the broccoli leaf in just one day.

I was checking the undersides of the leaves for their eggs when I noticed some chew holes. We ripped off the affected leaf but didn’t find any evidence of the butterfly. What we did find was two small slugs.

Last summer we set beer traps around our yard to lure the slugs into an alcoholic death trap, and it was a resounding (but disgusting) success. Looks like we’ll need to buy some more tiny pie pans and a case of cheap beer and get ahead of the problem before it gets worse.

In the meantime, I spread some coffee grounds around each plant because I read that it helps. We keep those separate because it makes the kitchen collector for our compost too soggy.

Here’s a website that has some pretty interesting and natural ways to deter/kill slugs. This one also has some cool tips.

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“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

That phrase typically applies to filling one’s plate with more than he or she can possibly eat. For me, it rings true when I’m planting herbs every summer. Somehow our raised bed gets filled with tons of fresh herbs–this year we planted two basil plants, two parsley plants, lemon thyme, two oregano clusters, cilantro, and our chives and mint returned for a nice harvest.

The final harvest of herbs from our garden. Almost nothing was left after this.

The final harvest of herbs from our garden. Almost nothing was left after this.

It’s more than we could possibly use in our cooking, especially when many of the herbs keep producing throughout the season. This summer I was pushing chives and basil on everyone. Aside from a couple big batches of pesto or a heavy-handed herbal infusion to our spaghetti sauce, I was at a loss on how to use everything before the weather turned cold and the plants died.

Then I came across a brilliant way to preserve herbs–the freezer. Sure, I could let them dry and later crush them to add to dishes, but that’s very time consuming, and I’m impatient. There are several methods for freezing herbs including individual leaves on a baking sheet or making ice cubes filled with fresh herbs and/or oil and water. I chose the latter, and it’s fairly simple.

1. Wash and dry the herbs, either patted dry with towels or in a salad spinner, which I used.

2. Chop them as you normally would if using fresh herbs.

3. Place the chopped herbs in an empty ice cube tray. How much in each is up to you but a tablespoon or so is a good rule of thumb. 

4. Top with olive oil or water, and place in the freezer overnight. 

5. When they’re frozen, place in individual freezer bags and label which herb is in each.

Ready for the freezer. We used both oil and water for each herb.

Ready for the freezer. We used both oil and water for each herb.

I tested this during the summer with chives and water, and it worked like a charm. I wanted to make sure I didn’t waste my time (or the herbs) if it wasn’t going to work. We did this again this fall and have had a steady supply so far this winter.

The obvious way to use these is to drop the herb cubes into soups or stews. We also take out the ones in oil and let them melt in a hot pan, which serves as a great base for sautéing onions or pan-frying fish.

Sometimes I’ll melt the water cubes in the microwave then squeeze dry the herbs to use in another dish. There are plenty of creative options.

A few things to note:

  • Personally, I felt like I had to use too much olive oil for this and will probably try to figure out a way to use less next time.
  • Also, the basil and mint turned brown in the water cubes. They still taste fine, so don’t be put-off when they don’t come out of the freezer all green and beautiful.
  • Consider writing on masking tape instead of directly on the bag. Even though we used permanent marker, it’s rubbing off in the freezer. Most of the time I can tell which herb it is, but sometimes I use it anyway and hope for the best.

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