A few weeks ago, there was confusion about the assignment of garden plots at the community garden. A new group was mistakenly given our plot. Before I could stop them, they started chopping in the soil with a hoe. The result was two holes in two hoses. I repaired it by cutting away the damaged hose with a utility knife and replacing it with a coupling. The two couplings were purchased from Home Depot for .41 cents each.
We were expecting the first freeze of the season. My youngest daughter and I decided to gather as many herbs as possible from our plot in the community garden.
We had some ideas but we didn't know for sure what herbs could withstand the freezing temperature.
Rosemary was the only herb we were sure could handle the freeze. I've seen rosemary survive snow. I've also noticed the herb in different areas around the metroplex being used as a shrub because of its hardiness.
(Pictured) Rosemary used as a hedge. Using rosemary as a hedge can add a different take on landscaping. The herb is a grayish green color with needle-like (but is not sharp) foliage. It can grow anywhere from 1 to 5 feet in height. The plant has a fragrant aroma and of course, can be used for cooking all year long.
I was certain the basil couldn't survive the frost. I had learned this from experience the previous year. I use much of it fresh for seasoning with steamed veggies. Fresh basil added to frozen broccoli and cauliflower can give it extra flavor.
We didn't know how the lemongrass would fare in the cold. We gathered as much as we could to make into wreaths. The lemongrass drys quickly while maintaining its color. It can be steeped fresh or dried to make tea or steeped simply for the aroma. The aroma has the same effect as walking into a home and smelling an apple pie or brownies baking.
Thyme is the only herb that we knew was a perennial. The others could have been, but we weren't sure. We gathered some because I use it often in cooking. Fresh thyme is definitely more favorable but dried is good also. The thyme we gathered has tiny leaves and wood stems that look a lot like limbs on a tree. It also drys well and quickly.
Cooking with thyme. If I had to choose a favorite herb, it would be thyme. Some of the more popular types are lemon and lime thyme. I favor the lemon thyme.
Thyme essential oil contains compound, such as myrcene, borneol, p-cymene, and linalool. The active ingredient Thymol, an antiseptic, is used in the commercial mouthwash, Listerine.
Before the use of antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages. It's also effective against toenail fungi. It's (thymol) used in soups, sauces, potatoes rice dishes, and vegetables without overwhelming the food. I particularly like the lemon thyme when I make roasted or baked chicken.
I recently took over the plot of a family that moved to Baltimore, Maryland and they have an abundance of lemongrass in the plot. So I had to do some research about it and this is what I've learned. Lemongrass is used as a culinary herb in Asian cuisines and also as medicinal herb in India. It has a distinct citrus flavor and can be dried and powdered and used fresh. It's commonly used in teas, soups, and curries. It's used as a tea in Africa countries-Togo, (an upper east region of Ghana), the Republic of the Congo, and Latin American countries such as Mexico.
The leaves and oil can be used to make medicine. The grass can be used for treating stomachache and digestive tract spasms, high blood pressure, convulsions, pain, vomiting, cough, achy joints, fever, the common cold, and exhaustion. Also, it can be used to kill germs and as a mild astringent.
As an essential oil. Lemongrass oil can be inhaled and used as aromatherapy for muscle pain.
Other ways it works. It might help prevent the growth of some bacteria and yeast. It also contains substances that are thought to relieve pain, reduce fever, stimulate the uterus and menstrual flow.
I've harvested lemongrass. The aroma of lemongrass steeping in hot is heavenly. My kids walked in from school one day and smelled it, and asked, "what is that? It smells so good."
The sweet potato is a root vegetable. It can have large starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots and belongs to the morning glory family. The plant is a vine that produces heart-shaped leaves and medium flowers. The root is a long and tapered and has a smooth skin. It's colors range from beige, yellow, orange red, brown and purple. Potatoes with red or pink flesh are generally sweeter than white potatoes. I sprouted my own plants by placing the potatoes (ones I had chosen because I liked the way they tasted)under the kitchen sink until small leaves started to grow. As a backup, I bought some sprouts from a reputable company. However, the potatoes I sprouted seen to have done far better than the purchased plants. I covered the sprouted plants completely with soil, while I set the others out, per instructions of the seller. I the sprouted potatoes were stronger because they had to push their way through the the soil therefore, making them more resilient.
The Nutritional Value of Sweet Potatoes.
The sweet potato consists of simple starches, and are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and beta-carotene. The potato also has moderate contents of micronutrients-vitamins B5, vitamin B6, and manganese. The potato is listed as one of the ten best foods to eat. Actually listed as number one, ahead of broccoli #4, wild salmon #5, and leafy greens #10, by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
It's acknowledged that the potatoes with orange flesh have more beta-carotene than those with light-colored flesh.
Renown runner, Usain Bolt, credits eating sweet potatoes everyday for his magnificent speed. Maybe he's right. Even the leaves and shoots are edible, particularly in West African countries. However, it is the roots that are most important.
I love growing and eating my own sweet potatoes. Not only did our family grow them, but I have raised them in small backyard gardens. I harvested a good crop this year at the community garden. I chose the plot there because it's larger, allowing the vines more space, and the unobstructed sunlight.
The sweet potato is a global food. It is eaten in several countries around the world such as Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Japan, Ethiopia, and Kenya. In Kenya, the Ministry of Agriculture has written a guide using the potato in recipes. It is being used in mashed forms, and flour from the dried tubers to replace wheat flour and sugar in cakes, bread, buns, cookies, etc. A juice drink has been developed and also a deep-fried snacks.
Some other countries that consume sweet potatoes: Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Japan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Peru, Papua, New Guinea, and Spain. The potato is eaten globally.
Below are photos of the prolific vines of the potato plant.
I went by the garden today and picked some bell peppers. This is my first time growing purple bell peppers and I'm pleased with how they turned out. As always, the marigolds never disappoint me. Their color is vibrant and beautiful, one of my favorite fall flowers.
Our monthly garden club meeting ended with a short trip down the street to Motherherbs. Motherherbs is a home based nursery owned by Mrs. Valerie (Val) Nolen. Her home and nursery is situated on four acres in the Cedar Hill, TX.
Before owning Motherherbs, she worked at Petal Pusher, a local nursery, for fifteen years. Petal Pusher is now closed, but was one of my favorite places to visit because of its secret room, which I found absolutely fascinating. I remember being so excited when I stumbled upon it, I immediately called my mother and described it to her. It reminded me of the play rooms we used to make in pine trees that had been cut down. But nothing we kids could have imagined was as awe inspiring as the secret room at Petal Pusher Nursery. I was equally as thrilled to learn that Val had helped design and build the secret room. I asked what inspired them to do it. She replied that the the owner of Petal Pusher was a fan of the book, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published in 1910. One day they decided to create a room on the nursery grounds. The room had a real door, windows and furniture, while the walls were vegetation(see photo below). It was also used for meetings of local organizations.
Motherherbs carries an extensive number of plants. The plants are used for vegetable gardening and landscaping. Val receives her plants from a distributor as well as growing many of them.
Motherherbs has an eclectic collection of garden accessories. There's a good combination of rustic as well as refined items. On display, Val had cleverly used vintage items.
Much of the nursery is covered by canopy which is strung with tealights; making the nursery a pleasant place to relax and browse in the evening.
Located: 1007 West Beltline Road
Cedar Hill, TX 75104
Open: Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Note: Val will be designing a space at Dallas Arboretum.
We had a great time at the garden club meeting. We learned new ways of eating healthy. Our speaker was Cresanda Allen (see photo below) a local educational consultant. Mrs. Allen prepared recipes for us to sample, which included juicing. She also shared her extensive knowledge about alkaline levels in our foods, its effects on our bodies and how to test the alkaline levels in our bodies. Our Community Director Aranda Bell, prepared a healthy salad and delicious turkey chili. After the meeting we took a walk through the garden.
The chicken wire gives support for cucumber.
Tomatoes and cucumbers growing in raised garden bed.
Keren picks a cucumber.
My husband and youngest daughter relaxing near garden.
Last week the city of Cedar Hill had mulch delivered to community garden. I was there to meet a group of volunteers. However, the group rescheduled, but a few other gardeners and I spread some mulch anyway. My daughter and I had a lot fun (as you can see below) on the mulch pile.
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Welcome to my gardening blog. My father passed to me a love for gardening. I wanted to share this passion with my girls, so they would know the origin of their food. (not the local grocery store). So, I dedicated myself to giving them what my father gave me; and if I can inspire someone to garden, the reward is even greater.